It can be a major undertaking to sift through all the Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, and one not commonly known to veterans or their families is the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program under Chapter 35.
Under this program, family members of troops killed in action or those with 100% service-connected disabilities are able to obtain up to 45 months of education benefits in the form of a monthly stipend.
The DEA program provides education and training compensation to eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition or of veterans who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition.
The amount allocated can be up to a maximum of $1,021.00 a month for full-time students per rates determined in October 2015.
The money from this program is intended to be used as supplemental income for dependents seeking degrees, certificate programs, apprenticeships, or on-the-job training.
In addition, the program is separate from the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Dependents of service members who died in the line of duty or served adequate time to be able to transfer their G.I. Bill benefits can also be eligible for the DEA program, but only for up to 81 months of total full-time benefits. However, both programs may not be used concurrently.
Dependent children planning to apply for this benefit must fall between the ages of 18 and 26. As a child, you have up to age 26 to use the benefits. Spouses must use it within 10 years from the date VA finds you eligible or from the date of death of the Veteran.
The bill appears to be flexible in that children of fallen or disabled service members can be married, the money can be used for colleges or job training programs, and there are rates that vary and can apply to part-time or full-time schooling — unlike with the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
Still it’s important to note that while the DEA program is flexible, it is not near as comprehensive as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, especially not when pursuing a full-time higher-education program.
In order to apply, dependents must complete VA Form 22-5490 and submit it to the VA for consideration.