Allowance for Helpless Child Benefits
What is a Helpless Child?
The term “Helpless Child” refers to a child who, before the age of 18, became permanently incapable of self-support. In order to warrant initial or continued consideration as a dependent child for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purposes, any individual over the age of 18 who is not pursuing a course of instruction at an approved educational institution must be shown to have become permanently incapable of self-support by reason of mental or physical defect before attaining age 18. A dependent meeting these criteria is also commonly referred to as a helpless child.
Who is Eligible?
An additional allowance for a helpless child is payable to a Veteran who is
- Service-connected at 30% or more, or
- Is in receipt of non-service connected pension, and
- Who has a dependent helpless child who is 18 or older.
The additional benefit payable on a veteran’s award for a helpless child is the same amount payable for a dependent child under the age of 18.
A VA rating decision will determine the helpless child’s mental and/or physical status. However, a decision will not be made more than three months prior to the child’s 18th birthday, but can be made any time after his/her 18th birthday.
Note: If the child improves to the point that he/she is no longer helpless, or the helpless child marries, the helpless child status will be terminated.
What Conditions Establish a Child as Helpless for VA Purposes?
In order for a child to qualify as a helpless child for VA purposes, all of the following criteria must be met:
- The child is 18 years of age or older, and
- Medical evidence shows permanent incapacity for self-support existed prior to the child’s 18th birthday, and
- The child is determined to permanently incapable of self-support by a Rating Decision, and
- The child is unmarried
How Can You Apply?
To apply, the Veteran must submit the following:
VA Form 21-686c, Declaration of Status of Dependents, and
VA Form 21-4138, Statement in Support of Claim, and
Evidence to show the child became incapable of self-support before the child’s 18th birthday, which includes:
- A statement from a physician who knows of the child’s mental and/or physical condition showing the extent of disability, diagnosis, prognosis, and date of onset. The medical evidence should include the child’s ability to perform self-care functions and the ordinary tasks expected of a child of that age.
- If the child has ever been in an institution for treatment, training or custodial care, a statement from the institution explaining the child’s condition at entrance and discharge. This statement should also show whether any improvement occurred or can be expected.
- If the child ever attended school, a statement from a school official showing whether any progress occurred or can be expected. It should state the maximum grad attained.
- If the child has ever been employed, send a statement showing the nature, dates and amount of earnings of such employment. If he/she has never been employed, please send a statement to that affect.
- A statement detailing if the child has ever been married or not.
- Medical evidence of the child’s present condition.
Note: The informal claim may be initiated via telephone. The PCR should send Veteran the following for his/her signature: 21-686c and 21-4142 for each doctor/hospital record that needs requesting by VA. Also send 21-4138 for use by doctors or individuals to make statements.
The address and fax phone number for the Janesville Intake Center:
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
CLAIMS INTAKE CENTER
PO BOX 4444
JANESVILLE, WI 53547-4444
or Fax to:
TOLL FREE: 844-531-7818 & 248-524-4260 (Utilized for Foreign Claimants)
References: for more information on a child, who is permanently incapable of self-support, see:
M21-1MR, Part III, iii.5.F.30-32
M21-1MR, Part III, iii.5.G.37-38
M21-1MR, Part III.iii.7
M21-1MR, Part IV
M21-1, Part IV, Chapter 15
38 CFR 3.5
38 CFR 3.52 through 3.54
38 CFR 3.57
Updated: March 14, 2019
May 5, 2019 - 2:47pm