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Education - Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program (DEA)

August 6, 2023

The journey of education is not just about individual achievement; it's also a reflection of community support, resilience, and honoring sacrifices made by those who serve our nation. Among the myriad ways the U.S. demonstrates its commitment to its military members and their families, the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program (DEA) stands as a testament to the value placed on the education of those closely tied to our nation's heroes.

The DEA isn’t merely a financial support mechanism; it's a beacon of hope, an affirmation that the nation acknowledges the hardships and challenges faced by the families of veterans. Whether you're the spouse, son, daughter, or another dependent of a veteran who has made profound sacrifices, this program ensures that educational aspirations remain within grasp.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the eligibility requirements and application process for this educational benefits for veterans.

Program Contact1-888-442-4551
Additional InfoApplication for Educational Benefits
Managing AgencyU.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Understanding the Education - Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program

The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program is a government initiative in the United States that provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents and survivors of certain Veterans. The program is designed to support the educational needs of individuals who are related to Veterans who have died or been permanently and totally disabled as a result of a service-connected disability or Veterans who died while such a disability was in existence.

It also covers those who are missing in action, captured in the line of duty by a hostile force, forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by a foreign government or power, or hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability and are likely to be discharged for that disability.

Eligible dependents and survivors can receive educational benefits for up to 36 months if they begin using the program on or after August 1, 2018. However, if they started using the program before that date, they may be eligible for up to 45 months of education benefits.

Eligibility Requirements

The DEA program provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents and survivors of certain Veterans. To qualify for this program, individuals must meet specific criteria related to their relationship to the Veteran and the Veteran's service-connected disability or death. Here are the key eligibility requirements:

Relationship to Veteran

You must be a son, daughter, or spouse of one of the following:

  • A Veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability. The disability must have arisen out of active service in the armed forces.

  • A Veteran who died from any cause while such permanent and total service-connected disability was in existence.

  • A Servicemember missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.

  • A Servicemember forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign government or power.

  • A Servicemember who is hospitalized or receiving outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability and is likely to be discharged for that disability.

  • Reservists and National Guard members who are activated for Federal service OR who die/become disabled while on training status are considered Veterans.

  • Commissioned Officers of the Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are considered to be active duty members and Veterans, once discharged.

Time of Program Usage

The length of education benefits you may receive depends on when you began using the DEA program:

  • If you started using the program on or after August 1, 2018, you may receive up to 36 months of education benefits.

  • If you began using the program before August 1, 2018, you may be eligible for up to 45 months of education benefits.

It's important to note that to participate in the DEA program, the Veteran must have certain qualifications related to their service-connected disability or death.

Participants in the DEA program have access to Educational and Vocational assessment and counseling (Chapter 36) upon request through VA's Veteran Readiness and Employment Service. This service aims to assist participants in making informed decisions about their educational and vocational paths to enhance their chances of success in their chosen careers.

Application Process

The DEA program provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents and survivors of certain Veterans. If you meet the eligibility criteria and wish to apply for this benefit, follow these steps to complete the application process:

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

Before applying, ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements for the DEA program. Eligible individuals must be a son, daughter, or spouse of a Veteran who meets specific criteria related to their service-connected disability or death. Refer to the eligibility information provided on the Benefits.gov webpage to verify your eligibility.

Step 2: Gather Required Information

Before starting the application process, gather all the necessary information and documents to complete the application accurately. Some of the essential information you will need includes your personal details, the Veteran's service information, and any relevant documentation supporting your eligibility.

Step 3: Access the Application Form

To apply for the DEA program, you can use VA Form 22-5490, "Dependents' Application for VA Educational Benefits." This form is available for download and printing on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website. Alternatively, you can complete the application online through the VA's official website.

Step 4: Complete the Application Form

Whether you choose the paper form or the online application, carefully fill out all the required fields in the VA Form 22-5490. Provide accurate information about yourself, the Veteran's service history, and other relevant details. If you are using the paper form, make sure your handwriting is clear and legible.

Step 5: Submit the Application

If using the paper form, once you have completed it, double-check for any errors or omissions, and sign the form where indicated. Then, mail the application to the address provided on the form.

If applying online, follow the instructions on the VA website to submit your application electronically. Ensure that you have uploaded any required supporting documents as specified in the online application process.

Step 6: Wait for Confirmation

After submitting your application, you will receive a confirmation that the VA has received your application. The processing time may vary, but you should receive a response from the VA regarding the status of your application.

Step 7: Contact for Assistance

If you have any questions or need further assistance during the application process, you can contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' Education and Training page. Additionally, you can visit the GI Bill customer service page or call 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551) for TDD/TYY use 711 for support and answers to your inquiries.

Completing these steps will help you successfully apply for the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program. Remember to provide accurate information and keep a copy of your application and any supporting documents for your records.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the DEA program?

The DEA program provides education and training opportunities to eligible dependents and survivors of certain Veterans. It offers up to 36 months of education benefits for those who began using the program on or after August 1, 2018, and up to 45 months for those who started before that date.

2. Who is eligible for the DEA program?

To be eligible, you must be a son, daughter, or spouse of a Veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability. The Veteran may have died from any cause while the permanent and total service-connected disability was in existence.

3. Are servicemembers considered eligible for DEA benefits?

Yes, certain Servicemembers are eligible, including those who are missing in action, captured in line of duty by a hostile force, forcibly detained or interned by a foreign government or power, or hospitalized/receiving outpatient treatment for a service-connected permanent and total disability.

4. Is there additional support for DEA participants?

Yes, DEA participants can request Educational and Vocational assessment and counseling (Chapter 36) through VA's Veteran Readiness and Employment Service to help make informed decisions about their education and career paths.

5. How can I apply for the DEA program?

To apply, complete VA Form 22-5490, "Dependents' Application for VA Educational Benefits," either online or in paper form. The application is available on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' website, and applicants can also seek assistance from the GI Bill customer service.

Conclusion

The Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) program is a valuable initiative that provides educational and training opportunities for eligible dependents and survivors of certain Veterans. Through this program, individuals can receive up to 36 months of education benefits if they began using it on or after August 1, 2018, and up to 45 months if they started before that date.

Eligible individuals, including the sons, daughters, or spouses of qualifying Veterans, as well as certain Servicemembers and commissioned officers, can access this beneficial program to pursue their educational goals and enhance their future career prospects. 

Exploring online education and wondering about your GI Bill benefits? Dive deep into our comprehensive guide, 'Does GI Bill Pay For Online Classes?' and get clarity on maximizing your educational pursuits. Your path to flexible learning is just a click away!

Michael Blair contributes his expertise to help veterans access government benefits and resources. Through his informative articles and guides, he plays a vital role in empowering veterans and improving their quality of life.
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