Since 1944, millions of veterans have received benefits from the GI Bill. These benefits have been used to pay for high expense needs, including their schooling and job training. Some disabled veterans may not be aware that under certain circumstances, their dependents may qualify for the GI Bill, too.
How can the dependent of a disabled veteran qualify for education benefits?
The VA’s education benefits for dependents are also called “Chapter 35 benefits.” The dependents of disabled veterans may qualify for these benefits if any of the following are true:
- The veteran is “in the hospital or getting outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability, and is likely to be discharged for that disability.”
- The veteran is “permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability.”
- The veteran died “as a result of a service-connected disability.”
Being the dependent of a disabled veteran is not the only way to qualify for the GI Bill. A dependent can also qualify under other circumstances, including a service member’s death or a service member who is missing in action.
What do dependents need to know about the GI Bill?
The GI Bill has two separate programs for dependents: the Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) and Fry Scholarship.
- Dependents must apply through the VA.
- Dependents of a disabled veteran may qualify for both programs but can only participate in one.
- The duration of benefits and age limits are different for each program.
- Both programs cover certain expenses related to college tuition, vocational training, on-the-job training, apprenticeships, and tutors.
How does the VA define ‘permanent and total disability’?
When a veteran applies for disability benefits, they are assigned a VA disability rating. This rating takes into account how the disability impacted their general health status and ability to function. If a veteran has more than one disability, they are assigned a combined disability rating that cannot be greater than 100%.
A permanent disability is based on medical evidence that indicates that a vet’s condition is not expected to improve over their lifetime. It can be more difficult for a younger veteran to be categorized as permanently disabled.
If a veteran has a permanent and total disability, it is important that their official VA disability rating reflects that. In some cases, veterans must appeal their disability claim. Their dependent’s eligibility for the GI Bill hinges on an accurate rating. A VA benefits attorney may help veterans who feel they did not receive a fair rating and wish to appeal.