How to Add Child As a Dependent to VA Disability Compensation

Veterans who have a 30% or higher disability rating can get an increase in their VA disability compensation if they have one or more dependent, such as a spouse, child or parent. But this will not happen automatically; the veteran must first notify the Department of Veterans Affairs of the change in status.  To do this, you or your veteran spouse must use either VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents or the online application system known as VONAPP.

Adding a Child with Paper VA Form

Form 686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents  to be used to update a compensated veteran’s status of dependents only.  It is not the form you use when applying for VA disability compensation for the first time.  So assuming you or your veteran spouse is already receiving this benefit, use VA Form 21-686c to add new dependent(s), or remove one or more who are no longer eligible.

[stextbox id="info"]Make sure your child has a valid Social Security Number already.  You cannot add a dependent for VA compensation benefits without one.[/stextbox]

To fill in Form 21-6986c, enter the sponsor and claimant’s standard personal information such as:

  • Name, SSN, marital status of veteran sponsor
  • Current spouse’s previous marriages, if any
  • Name, SSN, status and address of each dependent child

You must disclose whether the child is a natural child, stepchild, adopted and/or “seriously disabled” (supporting evidence required– this may have an effect on the child’s eligibility for benefits when he or she turns 18) and the address of each child that lives apart from you.

After completing and signing the form, seal it in an envelope and mail to the VA regional office or VARO that manages claims in your area.  You might also want to attach a photocopy of their child’s birth certificate, adoption papers, etc. along with the form.

It may take some time for the VARO to process the claim.  Don’t worry about any unpaid benefits at this time.  VA will pay you or your veteran spouse  a lump sum for overdue payments as soon as the disability compensation is adjusted.


Alternatively you can use the Veteran Online Application system or VONAPP to update your claimed dependents.  Visit the VONAPP site here.

Updating the Veteran’s List of Dependents

The veteran’s status of dependents should be kept up to date with either VA Form 686c as above or the VONAPP online tool whenever is a change.  Examples are: divorce, remarriage, an adoption, a new birth or a child turning 18 or enrolling in school.

You can use the same form above to remove dependents too.  If removing a dependent, VA will recoup payments made past the former dependent’s eligibility period.

[stextbox id="warning"]The longer you wait before you remove a family member from your list of dependents, the more you will need to pay back to VA when the change is finally reflected in your disability compensation rate.  So it is better to act sooner than later.[/stextbox]

A new baby or child in the family is a blessing, but it also means added financial burden for the parents.  So make sure you claim the new member of your family as soon as possible for a higher VA compensation rate.

Claiming a Child for Health Coverage Benefits

If the veteran is permanently and totally disabled and has been awarded Chapter 35 benefits, he or she should be eligible to sponsor family for the CHAMPVA health coverage program. If this applies to you, claim the new dependent child for benefits as soon as possible.  See CHAMPVA benefits for veterans’ spouses and children.

Useful Links

  • Download a PDF of VA Form 686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents here.
  • Locate a VA Regional Office near you here.
  • Update your status of dependents online through VONAPP here.