How the VA Dependent Parent Benefit Can Assist Veterans with Parents with Alzheimer’s

Last Updated: May 31, 2023


VA Dependent Parent Program Overview

The VA dependent parent benefit is a monetary benefit available to veterans who have a parent with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia and the parent is financially dependent on them. The dependent benefit is a potential added benefit for veterans who receive VA disability benefits. That means that when a veteran has a dependent parent, an additional monthly cash allowance can be added to the veteran’s monthly disability compensation to help the veteran support them. While veterans who receive VA educational benefits are also eligible for the dependent parent benefit, little published information could be found on the specifics.

The dependent parent benefit can be extremely beneficial for veterans who have a parent suffering from dementia. This is because veterans can spend the cash benefit, which is paid directly to them, how they see fit. Dementia is a progressive disease worsening over time causing care needs and supervision to increase as time advances. There is a great amount of flexibility in the covered benefits of the dependent parent program. They range from using the monthly stipend to help cover home improvements/modifications, insurance, medication, room, board, and care services. Additionally, there is no requirement that a parent lives with their adult veteran child.

 Examples of Dependent Parent Benefits Usage
– Joan has early-stage vascular dementia and can live fairly independently, but does have some difficulty with planning and following steps, such as planning meals and following recipes. To assist Joan in continuing to live at home, her veteran son hired someone to come to the home once a week to help plan meals, do grocery shopping, and assist with preparing meals.
– Robert has mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease and tends to wander from home and get lost. He lives with his veteran daughter, but she cannot keep her eyes on him at all times. To help prevent her father from wandering, she purchases a wander alert system, which alerts her if a door is opened.
– Edward has late-stage Parkinson’s disease dementia, and unfortunately, his care needs are greater than his veteran daughter can handle. He resides in a nursing home and the money from the dependent parent benefit is paid towards the cost of nursing home care.


VA Dependent Parent Program Benefits

With the dependent parent benefit, an eligible veteran will receive a monthly cash payment in addition to their disability compensation (or educational benefit). When calculating the additional benefit amount, a veteran’s disability rating is a large factor in how much the extra monthly cash benefit will be for having a dependent parent. The higher the veteran’s disability rating, the larger the monthly benefit. Furthermore, a veteran who has two dependent parents with dementia rather than just one will receive a higher benefit rate. Other factors that are taken into consideration when determining a veteran’s disability compensation plus dependent compensation are their marital status and if they have dependent children.

As of December 2022, the additional dependent parent cash benefit can vary a lot. For instance, on the low end, a veteran with a 30% disability rating can receive an additional compensation rate of $556.05 per month for one dependent parent and $604.05 per month for two dependent parents while a veteran with a 60% disability rating can receive $1,416.65 month for one dependent parent and $1,513.65 per month for two dependent parents, and on the high end, with a 100% disability rating veterans can receive $3,784.02 month for one dependent parent and $3,946.09 for two dependent parents. To see VA disability compensation rates with dependent parent(s) compensation, click here.

 Did You Know? Veterans can receive free assistance finding assisted living and memory care homes for a parent with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. Start here.

The extra cash benefit of having a dependent parent with dementia can be used by the veteran to help cover additional expenses. Common examples of ways in which money may be used are:

– In-home personal care assistance or homemaker services

– Assistive devices for persons with dementia (location tracking devices, automated pill dispensers, set reminder devices, etc.)

– Home safety modifications

– Adult daycare

– Home health care

– Prescription medications to help relieve the symptoms of dementia (cognitive loss, anxiety, depression, etc.)

– In-home or out-of-home respite care to relieve a veteran who is the main caregiver for their parent

– Assisted living or Memory care

– Nursing home care


VA Dependent Parent Program Eligibility Requirements

To receive the VA’s dependent parent benefit to help support a parent with dementia, a variety of eligibility criteria must be met. This includes requirements for both the veteran and their parents. As of 2023, the following criteria must be met.

Veteran Requirements

– The veteran must be receiving (or be eligible for) disability compensation from the VA and have a minimum combined disability rating of 30% OR be receiving VA educational benefits and be enrolled at least half-time.

– The veteran must not have been dishonorably discharged.

Dementia Parent Requirements

– The “parent” must meet the parental definition set forth by the VA. A “parent” can be a biological, adoptive, step, or foster parent. Furthermore, the role of “parent” must be one that was fulfilled a minimum of one year before the veteran enters into active service.

– The parent must have limited income and net worth, which includes assets (though a published limit could not be found) OR if the parent has an income/net worth that is considerably high but their living and/or medical expenses are also high. In other words, the parent with dementia must be financially dependent on their adult veteran child regardless of how much income and assets the parent has. To establish that a parent is financially dependent on a veteran, all the income and assets of the parent must be reported to the VA. The expenses of the parent must also be reported. This includes medical expenses not reimbursed by insurance, rent/mortgage, utility bills, groceries, etc.

– “Dependency” does require the parent to live with the veteran. For a person with dementia, this means that as care needs to progress, the living environment can change without the veteran losing the dependent parent benefit. For example, the parent can move into an assisted living residence or a nursing home.


How to Apply for the VA Dependent Parent Program

If a veteran is not already on VA disability or receiving educational benefits, a veteran must first apply and be approved for one of these two benefits before being awarded the dependent parent benefit for a parent with dementia. To apply for disability benefits, a veteran can do so online, with one’s local VA office either in person or over the phone, or by submitting a paper application (VA Form 21-526EZ).

Veterans who are already receiving VA disability or educational benefits must fill out the Statement of Dependency of Parent(s): VA Form 21P-509. Upon completion, the form should be sent to one’s VA regional office. Find offices here. Another option would be to add a parent as a dependent online. However, one cannot add a parent through a common-law marriage via this option.

Veterans who have questions about the application process or require assistance can work with an accredited VA representative.