Allowance for VA Helpless Child Benefits

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Allowance for VA Helpless Child Benefits

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A statement detailing if the child has ever been married or not.
  6. 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:

Mail to:
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:

M21-1, Part III, Subpart iii, Chapter 7 - A Child’s Permanent Incapacity for Self-Support

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