TN 7 (08-99)

SI 00502.140 Veteran or Active Duty Member of the Armed Forces, a Spouse, or a Dependent Child

A. Definitions

1. Veteran of the Armed Forces of the U.S.

A veteran, for purposes of this provision, means a person who served in the active U.S. military, naval, or air service, who fulfilled the minimum active duty service requirements, and was released with a discharge characterized as honorable and not on account of alienage, and includes veterans who died while serving in active duty in the Armed Forces of the U.S. (For purposes of determining eligibility of a surviving spouse under this provision, a veteran also includes a veteran who died after discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces.) A veteran also includes individuals with certain military service before 7/1/46 in the military forces (including certain organized guerilla forces) of the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and certain service in the Philippine Scouts. (See SI 00502.135A.2.)

NOTE: Active military, naval, or air service in this context can include active duty training or inactive duty training under certain limited circumstances. Refer these cases to the Veterans Affairs Regional Office (VARO) for a determination. However, see NOTE in SI 00502.135A.2.

A discharge based on alienage is a discharge granted to a noncitizen service member because:

  • the service member requested discharge on the basis that noncitizens are not subject to U.S. military service; or

  • the military service branch discharged an alien member who enlisted in violation of regulations restricting enlistments by aliens.

A discharge based on alienage carries a permanent prohibition of U.S. citizenship.

2. Active Duty in the Armed Forces of the U.S.

Active duty as a member of the Armed Forces of the U.S. means the individual is on full-time duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard.

Active duty, as a member of the Armed Forces of the U.S. for purposes of this provision and only for purposes of determining eligibility for SSI benefits and Food Stamps, also includes:

  • service before 7/1/46, in the organized military forces of the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while such forces were in the service of the Armed Forces of the U.S. pursuant to the military order of the President dated 7/26/41;

  • service before 7/1/46, in the organized guerrilla forces of the Philippine Commonwealth Army while such forces were in the service of the Armed Forces of the U.S. pursuant to the military order of the President dated July 26, 1941, under commanders appointed, designated, or subsequently recognized by the U.S. Army; and

  • service in the Philippine Scouts under section 14 of the Armed Forces Voluntary Recruitment Act of 1945.

3. Active Duty for Training

Active duty for training is temporary full-time duty in the Armed Forces performed by members of the Reserves, Army National Guard, or Air National Guard for training purposes. Active duty for training does not establish eligible alien status. However, SSA will not make a military service determination for such cases. These should be referred to the VARO for a determination of active duty service.

4. Minimum Active-Duty Service Requirement

A veteran, in order to qualify under this exception, must have fulfilled the minimum active-duty service requirements of 38 U.S.C. 5303A(d). For most veterans, this minimum active-duty service requirement is 2 years. Active duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces of less than 2 years should be referred to the VARO to determine satisfaction of the minimum active-duty service requirement. SSA will not make these determinations in cases with less than 2 years active duty service.

Do not routinely reopen determinations of veteran status made before November 1, 1997. Assume, absent any evidence to the contrary, that the minimum active-duty service requirement has been met. If evidence is brought to SSA's attention that the minimum active-duty service requirement was not met, reopen that determination under the rules of administrative finality.

5. Spouse of a Veteran or Active Duty Member of the Armed Forces

A spouse is a person’s partner in a marital relationship. Spouses are two persons who:

  • have been determined spouses under State law,

  • have been determined spouses under section 216(h)(1) of the SSAct for purposes of title II, or

  • are holding themselves out to the community as spouses.

A spouse includes an unremarried widow or widower of a deceased veteran, for purposes of this provision. See SI 00502.140A.6.

6. Unremarried Surviving Spouse of a Veteran or Active Duty Member of the Armed Forces

An unremarried surviving spouse of a veteran or active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces may also be eligible for SSI benefits when one of the following conditions is met:

  • the surviving spouse was married to the veteran or active-duty service member for one year or more; or

  • a child was born of the relationship between the surviving spouse and the veteran or active-duty service member, either during or before the marriage; or

  • the surviving spouse was married to the veteran or active-duty service member within fifteen years after the termination of the period of service in which the injury or disease causing the death of the veteran was incurred or aggravated. (This determination will not be made by SSA. Refer such cases to the VARO.)

The term “spouse” includes all marital relationships as described in SI 00502.140A.5. If the relationship was a “holding out” one, the surviving spouse must have been living with the veteran or active-duty service member at the time of the veteran/service member's death.

7. Unmarried Dependent Child of a Veteran or Active Duty Member of the Armed Forces

An unmarried dependent child of a veteran or active duty member of the Armed Forces is a child who is:

  • the biological or legally adopted child of an active duty member of the Armed Forces or an honorably discharged (not based on alienage) veteran of the Armed Forces of the U.S., or the biological or legally adopted child of his/her spouse, and

  • not married, and

  • dependent on the veteran/active duty member of the Armed Forces (i.e., can be claimed as a deduction on his/her Federal income tax return), and

  • under the age of 18 (or under age 22 and a student regularly attending school). See SPECIAL NOTE below.

  • this definition also applies to a disabled child age 18 or older if the child was disabled and dependent on the active duty member or veteran prior to the child's 18th birthday.

A child includes the child of a deceased veteran, for purposes of this provision. The child must have been dependent upon the veteran at the time of the veteran's death.

There is no requirement that the child be living with the veteran or service member.

B. Procedure - Development of Veteran Status

Request that the individual provide all evidence of military service available. Veterans should have received a full copy of DD Form 214 (CERTIFICATE OF RELEASE OR DISCHARGE FROM ACTIVE DUTY) or equivalent document that contains the necessary information. (A document equivalent to the DD-214 must contain the information in SI 00502.140C.1. to be acceptable evidence of military service.) Always secure evidence from the individual before contacting other sources.

EXCEPTION: Members of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, organized guerilla forces, and Philippine Scouts (as described in SI 00502.140A.2.) may have a military service discharge certificate such as a Form WD-53, which may appear authentic. Copy such evidence for the file, but do not make a determination of eligibility based on such evidence alone. Military service, character of discharge, and verification that discharge was not based on alienage MUST be obtained. See RS 01701.005 for procedures on obtaining verification of military service.

REMINDER: A qualified alien may be eligible on a time-limited basis without having veteran status or a relationship to a person with veteran status if he/she was admitted as an Amerasian immigrant, a refugee, granted asylum, had deportation or removal withheld, or was admitted as a Cuban/Haitian entrant less than 7 years ago. See SI 00502.100D.

1. Evidence of Veteran Status Required for Eligible Alien Status

a. Honorable Discharge

To determine honorable discharge, look for an entry of “Honorable” as the CHARACTER OF SERVICE block of DD Form 214 or equivalent document. If the evidence characterizes the discharge as anything other than “Honorable”, such as “Under Honorable Conditions”, do not determine eligibility as a veteran or as a spouse or child of a veteran.

b. Discharge Not Based on Alienage

To determine that a discharge was not based on alienage, look in the NARRATIVE REASON FOR SEPARATION block of DD Form 214. Do not determine eligibility based on veteran status if the reason for separation shows the discharge was based on alien status, lack of U.S. citizenship, or other “alienage” reason or if the SEPARATION CODE block contains an entry of JCP, KCP, SCP, or YCP. Those codes establish discharge based on alienage.

NOTE: On DD Form 214, CHARACTER OF SERVICE SEPARATION CODE and NARRATIVE REASON FOR SEPARATION are contained in a Special Additional Information section in the complete form of the document that is furnished to the veteran.

c. Minimum Active-Duty Service Requirement

Determine that the individual meets the minimum active-duty service requirement if the DD Form 214 or equivalent document shows 2 or more years of active duty in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. If the discharge certificate is not available, or if it shows active-duty service of less than 2 years, refer the case to the VARO to determine satisfaction of the minimum active-duty service requirement. If an eligibility determination has already been made on a case based on the military service exception, assume, absent evidence to the contrary, that the minimum active-duty service requirement is met.

2. Development of Questionable or Missing Evidence

Contact the VARO to verify if veterans status is met if:

  • the individual is unable to present evidence of military service,

  • the evidence presented is questionable (e.g., evidence appears to have been altered or forged),

  • the character of service is “Honorable,” but the entry for DEPARTMENT, COMPONENT AND BRANCH is not one of the 5 services listed in SI 00502.140A.2.,

  • the evidence presented does not confirm 2 years or more of active-duty service, or

  • active duty for training (ACDUTRA) or inactive duty training is shown.

Provide the VARO with the full name of the individual claiming veteran status, the date of birth, the service number (if issued), and the SSN. See RS 01701.005 for development of evidence of military service from other sources.

C. Procedure - Development of Active Duty in the Armed Forces of the U.S.

1. Development of Active Duty Status

Request the individual's service identity card, which should be a white service identity Common Access (CAC) card with the Affiliation marked as “Uniformed Services” and the Agency/Department marked with the armed forces branch of service.

NOTE: Any other color service identity card is not evidence of active duty unless supported by a copy of the individual's current orders showing he/she is on active duty, and not active duty for training. A blue (retiree) or beige (dependent) card is not evidence of active duty.

REMINDER: A qualified alien may be eligible on a time-limited basis without having active duty status or a relationship to a person with active duty status if he/she was admitted as a refugee, granted asylum, had deportation or removal withheld, was admitted as a Cuban/Haitian entrant, or an Amerasian immigrant less than 7 years ago. See SI 00502.100D.

2. Verification of Active Duty Status

Determine active duty status based on the individual's service identity card. Look at the expiration date on the CAC card. If it is more than 1 year from the date of your review, assume the individual is on active duty other than for training. If the date is one year or less from the date of your review, obtain a copy of the individual's current military orders to verify active duty other than for training.

Contact the personnel office at the military installation to which the individual is assigned to verify status if the current military orders are needed but unavailable, the authenticity of the card is questionable, or the service member refuses to provide evidence to establish eligibility for a spouse or child. If the military installation is unable to verify the service member's active duty status, verify by a written request (which may be transmitted by facsimile) to:

DEERS Support Office
ATTN: Research and Analysis
400 Gigling Road
Seaside, CA 93955-6771
FAX: (408) 655-8317

D. Procedure - Development of Status as a Spouse or Unmarried Dependent Child

1. Spousal Relationship to the Veteran or Active Duty Member

Verify the spousal relationship under the rules in SI 00501.150C.3. When the veteran or former active duty member is deceased, follow relationship development instructions in SI 00502.145.

When the veteran/military member is deceased, see SI 00502.140A.6. If unable to confirm surviving spouse status based on evidence submitted, contact the VARO. If he/she alleges remarrying, do not determine eligible alien status based on this exception.

2. Unmarried Dependent Child Status

a. Relationship to the Veteran or Active Duty Member of the Armed Forces

Ensure that the file is documented with evidence of relationship, following the verification guidelines contained in SI 00501.015D; however, do not accept unverified allegations of relationship.

b. Marital Status of the Child

Accept the child's (or payee's) signed marital status allegation, absent evidence to the contrary. See SI 00501.010C.2. for development in questionable situations.

c. Dependency on the Veteran or Active Duty Member

Consider the dependency test to be met if the child is listed as a dependent on the veteran's or active duty member's Federal income tax return for the most recently closed tax year. Document the file with a copy of tax return, or enter in REMARKS of the AALN screen on MSSICS that the child is listed as a dependent on the tax return for the most recent year. If the veteran is deceased, use the last tax return filed by, or on behalf of the veteran, if available. If no return was filed, accept the parent's signed allegation that the child is (or was, if the veteran is deceased) his/her dependent, absent evidence to the contrary. If dependency is questionable, develop in accordance with SI 01320.922.

d. Student Status

Develop per SI 00501.020.

E. References


To Link to this section - Use this URL:
http://policy.ssa.gov/poms.nsf/lnx/0500502140
SI 00502.140 - Veteran or Active Duty Member of the Armed Forces, a Spouse, or a Dependent Child - 10/26/2017
Batch run: 10/26/2017
Rev:10/26/2017