Adopted children are treated much the same as biological children in eligibility for benefits according to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). There are two basic eligibility requirements that must be met. The specific program must have benefits that are payable to children, and the relationship between the veteran and child must be proven.
General eligibility requirements 38 CFR 3.57 applies to children, including adopted children. The child must be under the age of 18, unmarried and a member of the veteran’s household at the time of the veteran's death. The adoption must have occurred before the child reached 18 years of age or before the age of 23 if the adopted child is attending an institute of higher education. An adopted child over the age of 18 is eligible for benefits if pursuing an education at an accredited college or university or if the child became incapable of self support before the age of 18. Proof of the adoption is required. Additionally, the adopted child must not be receiving support of a “sufficient size” from other entities, such as a welfare program.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is provided for an adopted child who meets eligibility requirements when the veteran is killed while in training or on active duty or if the death resulted in a disease or injury resulting from service. According to the VA, dependents may be eligible for benefits if the veteran died of a non-service related injury and the veteran was “receiving or entitled to receive VA Compensation for a service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling.” The amount of the compensation is based on the family unit. The benefit is added to the surviving spouse benefit for children under the age of 18 who are still living in the household.
Education and Training Benefits
An adopted child who meets eligibility requirements will receive education and training benefits if the veteran dies while on active duty or of a service-connected disability. Benefits are payable if the veteran was totally disabled due to a service-connected disability at the time of death. The adopted child must use the benefits by the age of 26.
Health Care Benefits
Eligible, adopted children receive health care benefits provided by the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veteran Affairs (CHAMPVA). CHAMPVA provides this coverage if the veteran died while on active duty, from a service-connected disability or was permanently disabled due to a service-connected disability. The adopted child may also qualify for these benefits if the veteran died in the line of duty and the child does not qualify for Department of Defense TRICARE health benefits.
An adopted child may be eligible for death pension benefits. Death pension benefits are paid to the surviving dependents of “wartime veterans whose death is not due to a service connected disability,” states the VA. The adopted child must be a dependent of the veteran and the surviving spouse.
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