VA will provide an education assistance allowance to the spouse, surviving spouse, or child of a veteran who is rated permanently and totally disabled from service-connected disability; who died in service or as the result of a service-connected disability; who died from any cause not the result of willful misconduct and who at the time of death was rated as being permanently totally disabled from service-connected causes; or an active duty service member who is listed as being missing in action or a prisoner of war for more than 90 days or who is forcibly detained or interned in line of duty by a foreign Government or power.
Generally, the eligible person will be entitled to 45 months of assistance under this program. If there is eligibility under more than one education assistance program, the maximum combined entitlement is 48 months. Entitlement is charged at the rate of one day of entitlement for one day of class or training, if attending school or training at a full-time rate.
Entitlement charges are pro-rated if the eligible person attends school at less than full-time, and under certain circumstances there may be no charge to entitlement. Although students under this program most commonly pursue institutional courses such as collegiate studies, business or vocational schools, ect., benefits may also be paid for apprenticeships, on-job training programs, or farm cooperative courses, also for secondary school courses leading to a high school diploma or remedial courses to qualify for college admission. Assistance may be authorized for overseas study, but only if the courses lead to a college degree.
Spouses surviving spouses, but not eligible children, may take correspondence courses. Payments are made monthly, and are based on the rate of attendance or training (full-time, three-quarter time, ect.). Since payment under Chapter 35 is predicated on recognition as a veteran’s dependent for basic eligibility, there are no additional amounts payable for the student’s dependents.
Marriage of the veteran’s child does not affect eligibility for educational assistance under this program, but if the veteran’s spouse is divorced or the surviving spouse remarries, eligibility to education assistance ceases. An eligible person may not receive education assistance under Chapter 35 while serving in the Armed Forces, and must be discharge under honorable conditions to resume benefits upon separation from service. If the eligible person has eligibility under more than one education assistance program, he or she must elect which benefit he or she will receive for any given program or enrollment period.
There are significant differences in the length of periods of eligibility for children and for spouses or surviving spouses: Generally, a child is eligible between age 18 or completion of high school, whichever is earlier, and age 26. If eligibility arises after age 18 but before age 26, the child will be eligible for education assistance for a period of eight years (ten years if pursing an apprenticeship or a program of on-job training), but not beyond age 31. If the child interrupts training to serve in the Armed Forces or for other reasons beyond the child’s control, the period of eligibility may be extended by an amount equal to the length of the interruption, but not beyond age 31.
Regardless of the basis, eligibility may not first arise after the child’s 26th birthday. After the child’s 18th birthday, education assistance under Chapter 35 may NOT be paid concurrently with compensation, pension or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation based on school attendance.
A veteran’s spouse is eligible for education assistance for 10 years from the date permanent total disability arose or 10 years from the date of notice of permanent total disability, whichever is to the spouse’s advantage. A surviving spouse is eligible for 10 years from the date of the veteran’s death or 10 years from the date of notice that the veteran’s death was service-connected, whichever is to the surviving spouse’s advantage.
If eligibility arises based on the veteran being rated permanently totally disabled at the time of death from non service-connected causes, the period of eligibility is 10 years from the date of the veteran’s death. If the eligibility is based upon an active duty service member being missing in action, a prisoner of war, or being forcibly held by a foreign government or power, the period of eligibility runs for 10 years after the 90th day of being listed in such status.
If the spouse or surviving spouse is unable to complete a program of education or training during the applicable 10-year period because of mental or physical disability (including the disabling effects of chronic alcoholism), the period of eligibility may be extended by an amount of time equal to the length of the disability. There is no basis for extension of eligibility.
If a permanently totally disabled veteran remarries, whether because of the death of or divorce from the previous spouse, the new spouse is eligible for education assistance for a period of 10 years from the date of the marriage and has 45 months of entitlement, unless the new spouse is also entitled to education assistance under another VA education or training program. In that event, the spouse’s total combined entitlement again may not exceed 48 months.
There is no bar to simultaneous payment of Chapter 35 benefits and payment of compensation, pension or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation as a spouse or surviving spouse. An eligible disabled (helpless) child whose mental or physical disability precludes pursuit of an educational program may receive Special Restorative Training under Chapter 35. Under certain circumstances, this special training may be provided for more than 45 months, but not beyond the child’s 31st birthday.
In addition, an eligible disabled child over the age of 14, or an eligible disabled spouse or surviving spouse may receive Specialized Vocational Training, leading to a suitable vocational objective for the particular disability. When a child has been determined to be “helpless”, there is no bar to concurrent payment of benefits for special training under Chapter 35 and compensation, pension, or Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, because these payments are based on the child’s disability, and not on school attendance after age 18.