Survivor & Dependent Assistance (DEA)
Regular Army: Active Duty
Benefit Fact Sheet
Survivors' and Dependents' Assistance (DEA) Program is established by Chapter 35 of Title 38 U.S. Code. The DEA Program provides education and training opportunities for eligible dependents of veterans who are permanently and totally disabled due to a service-related condition, or who died while on active duty or as a result of a service-related condition. The program offers up to 45 months of education benefits. These benefits may be used for degree and certificate programs, apprenticeship, and on-the-job training as well as correspondence courses for spouses. Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under certain circumstances.
DEA benefits are available to the son, daughter (including stepchild or adopted child), or spouse of:
- a Veteran who died or is permanently and totally disabled as the result of a service-connected disability. The disability must arise out of active service in the Army.
- a Veteran who died from any cause while such service-connected disability was in existence.
- a Service member missing in action or captured in line of duty by a hostile force.
- a Service member 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. This change is effective December 23, 2006.
Period of Time During Which This Benefit May Be Used:
Spouses and surviving spouses have 10 years from the date VA establishes eligibility to use the benefit. Surviving spouses of Veterans who died while on active duty may use DEA 20 years from the date of the Veteran's death to the benefit. If the VA rated the Veteran permanently and totally disabled with an effective date of up to 3 years from discharge, a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of the rating.
Children may use DEA between the ages of 18 and 26, regardless of marital status.
Note: These limits can be extended under certain circumstances. For details, please visit the web site shown below. The extension generally cannot go beyond the surviving child's 31st birthday.
Eligible persons can receive up to 45 months of full-time or equivalent benefits for:
- college, business, technical or vocational courses, high school diploma or GED, independent study or distance learning courses
- correspondence courses (spouses only), apprenticeship / job training
- remedial, deficiency, and refresher training (in some cases)
- the cost of tests for licenses or certifications needed to get, keep, or advance in a job
(Note: schools and programs must be approved by a State Approving Authority (SAA) for VA training)
Beginning August 1, 2011, break (or interval pay) will no longer be payable under DEA except during periods your school is closed as a result of an Executive Order of the President or an emergency (such as a natural disaster or strike)
- For example, if your Fall term ends on December 15 and your Spring term begins January 10, your January housing allowance will cover 15 days in December and your February allowance will cover 21 days in January.
- Students using other VA education programs are included in this change. Monthly benefits will be pro-rated in the same manner.
- Entitlement that previously would have been used for break pay will be available for use during a future enrollment.
How Much Does VA Pay?
The amount VA pays is based on the type of training program and training time (i.e. full-time, half-time, etc). Benefits are paid monthly and in arrears. If attendance is less than a month or less than full-time, payments are reduced proportionately.
The following basic monthly rates are effective October 1, 2012:
- Full time - $987.00 a month
- 3/4 time - $740.00 a month
- 1/2 time - $491.00 a month
- less than 1/2 time and more than 1/4 time - $491.00 a month
- 1/4 time or less - $246.75
Apprenticeship & On-the-Job Training:
- First six months of training - $720.00 a month
- Second six months of training - $540.00 a month
- Third six months of training - $356.00 a month
- Remainder of training - $180.00 a month
Farm Cooperative Training
- Full time - $794.00 a month
- 3/4 time - $596.00 a month
- 1/2 time - $396 a month
Special Restorative Training
- Full time - $987.00 a month
- Accelerated Charges - Cost of tuition and fees in excess of $305.00 a month
- Entitlement Reduced 1 day for each - $32.90 a month (1/30th of full time rate)
How to Apply?
You can apply by filling out VA Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance, and submit it to the VA. You can also apply through the VA's website.
For more information, please visit the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance webpage maintained by VA:
View the current rates at:
Army Casualty: https://www.hrc.army.mil/TAGD/CMAOC
Document Review Date: 18 June 2013