The VA Dependent Parent Benefit is for partially-disabled veterans who receive disability compensation and have a parent who relies on them for financial assistance. This program is especially relevant for veterans who are providing both care and financial assistance for an aging parent. While it is not required that the parent reside in the house of the adult child, doing so goes far to demonstrate the parent’s financial reliance on the adult child. Also, the aging parent does not need to be a veteran, only the individual on whom the aging parent is financially dependent.
The Dependent Parent Benefit is an additional benefit amount over and above their existing benefits, which, in turn, helps to support the dependent parent(s). This extra benefit, which is based on need, is paid directly to the veteran and can be used as he or she sees fits. Examples of how funds might be spent include assisting with the cost of rent and utilities, buying groceries or other necessary items, and paying for health insurance premiums.
In order for veterans to be eligible for the VA Dependent Parent Benefit, there are eligibility requirements for both the veteran and their parent(s).
Veterans must have a disability rating of 30% or more and receive benefits as a result OR receive educational benefits for at least half-time enrollment.
They must have at least one parent who is financially dependent on them. The definition of a parent is broad and includes birth parents, adoptive parents, foster parents and step-parents.
To establish financial dependence, all income that the veteran’s parent has received in the year prior to application must be reported. Examples include Social Security benefits, pension / retirement payments, dividends, and financial contributions by family members who do not live with the parent. While there isn’t a documented asset limit, parents must also disclose the total value of their assets (resources). Examples of assets include cash, checking / savings accounts, bonds, stocks, annuities, and other resources that are easily converted to cash. That said, some assets do not have to be reported, as they are exempt (non-countable), such as one’s house, home furnishings, clothing, and vehicle.
If the parent has medical expenses that are not covered by health insurance, these costs can be deducted from their income, effectively lowering their countable income. In addition, the following costs should also be reported during the application process: rent/mortgage payments, home maintenance / repairs, food, clothing, taxes, and utilities, such as electricity, water, and gas.
Again, eligibility for the VA Dependent Parent Benefit is based on need. While many factors are considered, such as income, assets, cost of living, and medical bills, determining need is a very complicated process, and is one that has to be done during the application process through the VA.
Through the VA Dependent Parent Program, veterans are able to receive an additional cash benefit to help support a dependent parent / parents. Calculating a veteran’s additional cash assistance is extremely complex, and is based on a number of factors. For instance, disability rating, marital status, children, dependency of one parent or two, and as mentioned several times, need. Therefore, the additional benefit amount will also be determined during the application process.
Given all the variables, the actual cash benefit can vary dramatically; veterans can expect additional cash benefits somewhere between $200 and $2,000 per month.
For additional information about the VA Dependent Parent Benefit, one can download a program fact sheet. For additional information or questions, one can call Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000. To apply for this additional benefit, a veteran must fill out the following form: VA Form 21-509. Applications need to be submitted to the regional VA office in one’s area. To find one’s local office, click here.