Unveiling Chapter 35: VA Benefits for Dependents and Survivors


Chapter 35 benefits, also known as the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program, are provided under the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). 


The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides a wide range of benefits for veterans and their families. Among these many beneficial programs is Chapter 35, known formally as the Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program. This program provides education and career training benefits to eligible dependents and survivors of specific veterans, assisting them in their pursuit of education and vocational training. 


Chapter 35 is a unique program that specifically aims to assist those connected to veterans who are either permanently and disabled due to a service-related condition, or who died while in service or as a result of a service-related condition. This program ensures that these individuals are not forgotten and receive the help they need to secure a prosperous future, even in the unfortunate event of the death or severe disability of their connected veteran. 


Benefits of Chapter 35 

Beneficiaries under the DEA program can receive up to 45 months of education benefits that can be used for various educational or training programs, including degree and certificate programs, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training. If a person is eligible for both the Fry Scholarship (a scholarship for children and spouses of service members who died in the line of duty after September 10, 2001) and DEA, they’ll have to choose which benefit to receive, as the two cannot be used concurrently. 


Benefits provided under Chapter 35 can cover costs associated with tuition, books, and supplies required for education or training up to a specific limit. Current payment rates change annually and are indexed to the consumer price index. As of October 1, 2021, full-time students can receive a monthly allowance of $1,265. 


Eligibility for Chapter 35 Benefits 

One of the main determinants of Chapter 35 benefits is the status of the related veteran. The criteria for eligibility can be quite complex and varies based on the service member’s situation. Chapter 35 benefits are generally available to: 


  1. The spouse or child of a veteran who either died or is permanently disabled as the result of a service-connected disability.
  2. The spouse or child of a person who died in the line of duty, not due to misconduct.
  3. The spouse or child of a person who had been missing in action or was a prisoner of war.
  4. Survivors and dependents of veterans who suffered a permanent and total service-connected disability, or those who died while rated as having real and permanent disability resulting from a service-related condition.


While these criteria provide a general overview of eligibility, specific nuances can apply based on the individual’s circumstance. 


Applying for Chapter 35 Benefits 

To apply for DEA benefits, one must submit the application form as referred to as VA Form 22-5490. The form can be filled out and submitted online via the VA’s official government website. 


The VA determines an individual’s eligibility for Chapter 35 benefits; if eligible, the person receives a Certificate of Eligibility (CoE), which must be submitted to the school or training program they plan to attend. 


Securing Future Success 

Chapter 35 remains a vital aspect of the VA’s effort to support those left behind by military members who gave their lives or health in the service of their nation. Providing survivors and dependents with an avenue for education and training helps secure their future success and continued prosperity in the wake of tragic events. This program, while not as widely known as some other VA benefits, plays a crucial role in supporting those closely connected to our nation’s heroes. 


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