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Families of veterans may be eligible for veterans' benefits

Tennessee veterans may be aware that they may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits following service to their country. They may not be aware, however, that their family members may also be able to receive veterans' disability benefits due to a veteran's injuries.

Once a veteran begins receiving disability benefits, his or her family members may also be eligible for benefits based upon a veteran's record. Potentially eligible family members include a veteran's spouse, and, in some circumstances, even a divorced spouse, as well as a veteran's children.

A spouse must be aged 62 or older to qualify, unless such spouse is caring for a veteran's child who is either disabled or younger than 16-years-old. Children, including adopted children, may qualify for benefits, if they are unmarried and either younger than 18, or younger than 19 and enrolled full time in elementary or secondary school. Additionally, a disabled child older than age 18 may qualify for benefits, if his or her disability began before he or she turned 22-years-old.

To apply for benefits, family members must provide their birth certificates and Social Security numbers to the Social Security Administration (SSA). A spouse may also need to provide proof of marriage to the veteran, as well as dates of any prior marriages.

Eligible family members will not receive the same amount of benefits as an injured veteran. A family member may receive a monthly benefit of up to 50 percent of a veteran's disability rate. The SSA limits the total amount of family benefits it will pay, as well. Typically, the SSA will pay no more than 150 to 180 percent of a veteran's disability benefit to a veteran and his or her family.

The total amount will vary based upon a veteran's individual benefit amount and the number of qualifying family members who receive benefits. Multiple qualifying family beneficiaries may receive a reduced benefit amount, depending on the number of eligible beneficiaries, but a veteran's monthly benefit amount will not be reduced accordingly.

Source:, "Disability Planner: Family Benefits," accessed on Aug. 7, 2016

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