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Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA)


Survivors' & Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) was established to help improve the lives of spouses and children of veterans who have died, gone missing on active duty, are interned as prisoners of war or have been totally and permanently disabled due to their military service.

In many cases the service member is the primary earner for his/her family. They often provide not only a livelihood for their family but housing and benefits as well. Military work is inherently dangerous and Survivors' & Dependents' Educational Assistance was developed to help families cope with the future should something terrible happen to their loved one.

DEA can provide up to 45 months of educational benefits to the spouse and children of an eligible service member. The assistance can be used for any institution or program certified and accepted by the VA.

DEA assistance can be used for GED, undergraduate or graduate degrees, and certifications. DEA can also be used for apprenticeships and on-the-job training or cooperative training, which alternates training with supplemental educational courses. DEA covers approved correspondence courses and long distance training including programs related to business, vocational and technical instruction.

Your DEA benefits do not affect the veteran’s disability benefits or the death awards or pension you receive from the military as a spouse or surviving spouse. However, if you are a child and you are receiving a disability benefit, this benefit will cease when you start receiving DEA benefits. You can usually receive a disability allowance for a dependent child until the age of 23 and DEA benefits can be used until the age of 26 with the possibility of extension to age 31. The flexibility here is well thought out because children of deceased and disabled veterans often shoulder family and financial responsibilities at an early age. A child can use death or disability benefits while attending school so using the two benefits together can extend assistance through a child’s entire education if planned correctly.

Survivors' & Dependents' Educational Assistance (DEA) can be of huge assistance in getting your family’s future back after the death or permanent disability of a service member. This is just one of the many programs provided by the military to acknowledge the dedication and sacrifice of its members.

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