How to Get Additional VA Benefits for Your Dependent Parents 

How to Get Additional VA Benefits for Your Dependent Parents

While the life of a Veteran with disabilities can be hard, the situation may become even more challenging when you have people who depend on you. 

This is why VCU’s number one mission is keeping Veterans and their families informed about the full extent of their VA disability benefits, what they are entitled to and how to claim them.

The VA Dependent Parent Program helps Veterans with disabilities who also care for dependent parents in their household. 

The program offers several assistance options, and in this Blog we’ll cover:

  • Terms and eligibility criteria for this program
  • How to ensure that your dependent family members are considered for your VA disability benefits
  • VA Form 21P-509 and VA Form 21-686c, when to use them and how to fill them out correctly

Benefits of the VA Dependent Parent Program

Taking care of one or both parents often includes medical expenses and other care costs. It can become a heavy financial and moral burden, especially if you are a Veteran with disabilities. 

The VA Dependent Parent Program includes benefits that cover most of the needs of a household with a dependent elderly parent. You may need to modify your house to meet your parents’ needs, invite an in-home caregiver, or pay for nursing home care. The VA Dependent Parent will help you cover the costs of such modifications and medical expenses even those not covered by the health insurance policy.

The amount of money you will receive through these VA Benefits will depend on your current VA Disability rate as well as other factors like the medical condition of your dependent parents or whether you have other dependents. The compensation amount may also change every year based on Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA).

You can use our Rate Calculator to estimate the amount of your combined VA disability compensation and see how adding information about dependent parents to your file will affect it.

Here are the most common benefits you can count on if you have dependent parents:

Home Health Care

If your parents need qualified medical assistance and therapy, the VA Dependent Parent Program can cover the costs of inviting a medical professional to your house even if these services are not covered by health insurance. This coverage can include:

  • Nursing care
  • Diabetes monitoring
  • Physical therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Wound care
  • Education and basic training about their condition, treatment and therapy

In-home Caregivers

Except for medical care, elderly people often need assistance with their everyday needs. If you are unable to care for your parent on a daily basis or cannot assist them due to your own disabilities, this program allows you to invite a professional in-home caregiver. They will help your parents with daily tasks such as: 

  • Building healthy and stable daily routine
  • Proper nutrition 
  • Daily exercise
  • Essential hygiene
  • Groceries
  • Making and following doctors’ appointments
  • Social, creative, and intellectual activities

Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities

Due to their health condition, your dependent parent may have some specific needs that cannot be met in an ordinary household. For those who may need 24/7 medical supervision, specific medical procedures, or even emergency services, a nursing home or an assisted living facility may be a much safer place to live.

Home Modifications

Including Dependent Parent Benefits in your VA Disability Benefits will allow you to make modifications to your house which will turn it into a more comfortable and safe space for your dependent parent. This compensation will help you cover the cost of: 

  • Building ramps, stairlifts and hoyer lifts
  • Widening the doors
  • Installing medical alert systems
  • Kitchen and facilities modifications for people in wheelchairs
  • Lighting and appliance modifications including installation of smart lighting and appliance devices

Assistive Technology

Assistive devices can take many different forms from physical products to digital solutions. If your dependent parent needs assistive technology to help them with their everyday life, the VA Dependents Benefits will help you pay for:

  • Wheelchair
  • Prosthetic and orthotic devices
  • Glasses
  • Scooter
  • Walkers, cane and crutches
  • Hearing aids 
  • Speech recognition and time management software 

Health Insurance Coverage

While senior health care coverage is usually associated with high costs, the VA Dependent Parent Benefits will help you pay for your parent’s health insurance premiums.

Prescription Medications

The VA Dependent Benefits program also provides for cases when your parents’ prescription medication may not be covered by their insurance.

Household Costs

While taking care of an elderly parent is often associated with medical expenses, the VA Dependent Benefits may also be used for such essential everyday expenses as:

  • Rent 
  • House and car maintenance
  • Groceries
  • Cothing

If you and your family have additional specific needs due to your parents’ medical conditions, make sure to contact a qualified VA benefits expert and a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) to help you navigate the program’s specifics and possible variations of the benefits. 

VA Dependent Parent Program Eligibility Criteria

To be able to add a dependent parent to your VA disability compensation, you need to meet certain criteria:

  • Receive at least a 30% VA Disability Rating, or
  • Be enrolled in an educational assistance military program on at least a part-time schedule
  • Have a discharge other than dishonorable in either case

Parents should also meet certain eligibility criteria to qualify as dependent:

  • Be biological, adoptive, foster, step, or another qualifying type of parent
  • For other than biological parents, the relationship should be established for at least 1 year before you enter active duty
  • Live under your direct care
  • If your parent has an income it should fall under the eligibility guidelines. Note that you will need to mention all kinds of income for the past 12 months, including pension, social security benefits, salary, income from business, etc.

Like any other financial criteria, the income eligibility guidelines change almost every year due to inflation and changing cost of living. That is why it is important to consult with a qualified professional who keeps track of all updates to know exactly what compensation amount to expect and whether your parents are qualifying dependents at all. 

What You Need to Know About VA form 21-686c and VA form 21P-509 

VA Form 21-686c is the Declaration of Status of Dependents form. This form is used to report changes about your dependent status to the VA. Using VA Form 21-686c you can add new dependents, remove dependents who are no longer eligible, or update information about existing dependents. 

When it comes to dependent parents, VA has a special form VA form 21P-509. This form is meant for two specific cases:

  1. Veterans who has dependent parents
  2. Parent of a Veteran who died on active duty or as a result of service-connected injuries or disease

You’ll need to provide standard personal information such as your and your parent’s names, your VA file number, and your and parent’s social security numbers.

We’d like to highlight a few important entries from VA Form 21P-509:

  • In Question 5 you will need to describe the net worth of your parent. Here you will describe the property owned by your parent, its exact location including city and state, its current market value, and encumbrance.
  • Question 6 is about your parent’s income during the past 12 months. Remember that if your parent is married, you need to include the name of their spouse and ask them to fill out this section as well.
  • Question 7 requests information about your parent’s expenses. If they exceed the income, you should provide information about additional funds.
  • You and your dependent parent should both sign and date the form and include all available phone numbers.


We strongly recommend giving as many details as possible when you are filling out the VA Form 21P-509. It is always best to collect all relevant documents in advance. Make sure you have all the birth marriage and death certificates as well as divorce decrees on hand.

To submit the form you can mail it to the address:

Department of Veteran Affairs, Evidence Intake Center, PO Box 4444, Janesville, WI 53547

You can also fill out and submit the form online

In Conclusion

Navigating the world of VA Disability Rates and Benefits is not an easy task. Sometimes you may not even know that you are entitled to some benefits. In other cases, people may count on specific compensation but miss it because of miscommunication or lack of evidence.

Whether you want to appeal your case, increase your VA disability rate, or add or remove a dependent from your file, VCU is here to help. Contact us today and book your FREE 30-minute Call with a Veterans Specialist, and let’s work together!

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