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VA Benefits: How to Add or Remove Dependents with VA Form 21-686c

VA Education benefits

Have you gotten married or experienced other changes in your family since you applied for benefits with the Department of Veterans Affairs?  If you are a retired or separated military member who has had a change in marital status, family size, or similar circumstances, you’ll need to update VA records to include information about those changes.

Failing to do so can affect you and your spouse/dependents’ ability to claim certain VA education benefits such as the Fry Scholarship or Chapter 35 DEA benefits.

That is why if you are a military member with a spouse or dependents, you should know about VA Form 21-686c, the application used to add or remove dependents from your veteran benefits. Knowing about the form, when it is required, and how it is used can help you avoid delays in updating the VA.

You will use VA Form 21-686c to add those you financially support. The list of those who may be added to your VA benefits includes:

  • Unmarried dependent children under 18
  • Adult children between 18 and 23 who are in school,
  • Parents who are financially dependent on you
  • Spouses

Why You Need VA Form 21-686c

When you retire or separate from the military, you have the opportunity to file a claim with the VA for service-connected medical issues and other veteran benefits. You also have the ability to add your dependents, spouse, or financially dependent parents for consideration for certain VA benefits.

What’s more, the Department of Veterans Affairs offers added consideration for veterans with dependents and a VA disability rating of 30% or higher.

But before, during, or after applying for these benefits you may experience changes in family size. Do you have a VA rating of 30% or more? If you get married, divorced, have a child, or begin financially supporting a parent, you will need to complete and submit VA Form 21-686c to add the new spouse, child, etc.

If you experience a death in the family and that person was previously listed as a dependent, spouse, or parent you may be required to submit an updated VA Form 21-686c with that information.

When Not To Use VA Form 21-686c

Do not complete this form to add a dependent child who is older than 23. You WILL need to use this form to REMOVE a dependent who has aged out (older than 23) or who has gotten married. You should not fill out this form to add someone the VA does not consider a qualifying dependent or spouse.

Who does the VA consider a qualified dependent?

  • Spouses
  • Unmarried children (biological or otherwise) under the age of 18 or who are 18 to 23 years old and attending school full-time.
  • A disabled adult child who experienced the disability before age 18.
  • Dependent parents who live with you and rely on you for support. Need-based guidelines may apply.

VA rules do not focus on the “status” of a parent or child. Stepparents, foster children, adopted children, etc. are all considered.

How VA Form 21-686c Works

This form asks you for information needed by the Department of Veterans Affairs about the spouse, parent, or dependent you wish to add / remove from your VA benefits. You should report births, deaths, marriages of dependent children, etc.

Failure to report changes that result in you being overpaid by the VA will result in the Department of Veterans Affairs contacting you to pay back the overage. You will be required to pay back any benefits arriving after the death of a spouse or dependent, and the same is true if a dependent child gets married or reaches age 24 and is still receiving VA benefits.

Completing Form 21-686c

You will need to gather certain documentation which may vary depending on the circumstances of your application. Before you start filling out the form, take some time to read through the application form. It is best to gather all required information and documents before attempting to complete the form.

In cases where you must add or remove a dependent child, the usual details are required including (but not limited to) the following:

  • Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Contact information for those the child lives with if not residing with you.

Consider Form 21-686c when you have a change in family status that could affect a VA benefit.

If you need to add a parent, be sure to gather information about the parent’s net worth, any assets or property, and any income where applicable. These details are required. You’ll also be asked to name all in your household who depend on you financially.

Complete the form and mail it to the address listed at the bottom of page two, or complete it online and submit it electronically through the VA official site.

Things To Know About Submitting This Form

The VA official site advises that submitting an incomplete form will result in delays in approving your application. Fill out the form as completely as possible. It’s not a good idea to begin using this form online without logging in to the VA official site as you may not be able to save your entries.

About the author

Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.