Survivorsí and Dependentsí Educational Assistance Program (DEA) (Chapter 35)
Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program (DEA)
DEA provides education and training opportunities to 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. If you are a spouse, you may take a correspondence course.
Remedial, deficiency, and refresher courses may be approved under
Who is Eligible?
You must be the son, daughter, 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 Armed
- 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. This change is effective December 23, 2006.
Period of Eligibility
If you are a son or daughter and wish to receive benefits for attending
school or job training, you must be between the ages of 18 and 26. In certain
instances, it is possible to begin before age 18 and to continue after age 26.
Marriage is not a bar to this benefit. If you are in the Armed Forces, you may
not receive this benefit while on active duty. To pursue training after military
service, your discharge must not be under dishonorable conditions. VA can extend
your period of eligibility by the number of months and days equal to the time
spent on active duty. This extension cannot generally go beyond your 31st
birthday, there are some exceptions.
If you are a spouse, benefits end 10 years from the date VA finds you
eligible or from the date of death of the veteran. If the VA rated the veteran
permanently and totally disabled with an effective date of 3 years from
discharge a spouse will remain eligible for 20 years from the effective date of
the rating. This change is effective October 10, 2008 and no benefits may be
paid for any training taken prior to that date.
For surviving spouses (spouses of service members who died on active duty)
benefits end 20 years from the date of death.
Special Restorative Training is available to persons eligible for DEA
benefits. The Department of Veterans Affairs may prescribe special restorative
training where needed to overcome or lessen the effects of a physical or mental
disability for the purpose of enabling an eligible person to pursue a program of
education, special vocational program or other appropriate goal. Medical care
and treatment or psychiatric treatments are not included.
Special Vocational Training is also available to persons eligible for DEA
benefits. This type of program may be approved for an eligible person who is not
in need of Special Restorative Training, but who requires such a program because
of a mental or physical handicap.
How do I Apply?
You can apply by completing VA Form 22-5490, Application for Survivors' and Dependents'
Educational Assistance, online at