TN 51 (09-04)

SI 01130.681 Payments to Veterans’ Children with Certain Birth Defects

Citations:

Soc. Sec. Act as Amended, Sec 1613(a); P.L. 104-204, § 421; P.L. 106-419, § 401; P.L. 108-183, § 102

A. Background

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides three types of benefits to natural children of veterans:

  • benefits for Vietnam veterans’ children born with spina bifida,

  • benefits for Korea service veterans’ children born with spina bifida, and

  • benefits for women Vietnam veterans’ children born with certain birth defects.

For purposes of this VA benefit, the child status is not changed by age and marital status.

Children do not receive benefits under more than one of these programs. VA determines eligibility for VA benefits.

1. Benefits for Veterans’ Children with Spina Bifida (Spina Bifida Benefit)

VA pays monthly benefits to eligible children of Vietnam veterans born with spina bifida. These payments began after October 1, 1997. VA pays three different benefit amounts based on levels of disability and payments are subject to annual increases. In 2004, the payment amounts are $237, $821, $1,402. Section 102 of the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003, P.L. 108-183, signed into law on December 16, 2003, extended spina bifida benefits to children of Korea service veterans. If children with spina bifida have one or more additional birth defects, VA may pay benefit payments under the provisions for benefits for children of women Vietnam veteran born with certain birth defects, rather than payments under the provisions for spina bifida benefits. See SI 00830.318A.2.

The statutory provisions authorizing these benefits provide that the monthly allowance paid to these veterans' children shall not be considered income or resources in determining eligibility for or the amount of benefits under any Federal or federally- assisted program.

2. Benefits for Women Vietnam Veterans’ Children with Certain Birth Defects (Section 401 of P.L. 106-419 Benefit)

Beginning December 1, 2001, children of women Vietnam veterans born with certain birth defects may be eligible for monthly payments from VA. VA identifies birth defects of children of women Vietnam veterans that:

  • are associated with the service of those veterans in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam era, and

  • result in permanent physical or mental disability.

Section 401 of Public Law 106-419 established VA payments to eligible children according to four levels of disability. VA pays four different payment amounts that correspond to the four levels of disability and payments are subject to annual increases. In 2004, the payment amounts are $108, $237, $821, $1,402. If children have a single birth defect of spina bifida, VA may pay benefits under spina bifida benefit rates instead.

Public Law 106-419 provides that the monthly allowance paid to these Vietnam veterans' children shall not be considered income or resources in determining eligibility for or the amount of benefits under any Federal or federally-assisted program.

B. Policy

The following types of VA benefits are excluded from income and resources for SSI purposes:

  • VA payments made to or on behalf of certain Vietnam veterans' natural children regardless of their age or marital status, for any disability resulting from spina bifida suffered by such children;

  • VA payments made to or on behalf of certain Korea service veterans' natural children regardless of their age or marital status, for any disability resulting from spina bifida suffered by such children; and

  • VA payments made to or on behalf of natural children of women Vietnam veterans regardless of their age or marital status, for certain birth defects.

While individuals receiving these payments are children of veterans, many would not meet the definition of “child” for SSI. They may be SSI applicants or recipients and may have spouses or children who are SSI applicants or recipients.

NOTE: For benefits payable on or after July 1, 2004, interest and dividends earned on unspent payments are excluded from income. See SI 00830.500. For benefits payable prior to July 1, 2004, interest and dividends earned on unspent payments are not excluded from income.

C. Procedure

Individuals who apply for SSI benefits or receive SSI benefits may have documents from VA. Use documents such as letters or notices from VA to verify the type of payment.

  1. If documents from VA show the type of the payment, use the documents as proof of the type of payment.

  2. If documents from VA do not show the type of the payment or if no documents are available to verify the type of payment, contact VA. Follow instructions in SI 00830.320. Ask VA if they consider the payment to be a benefit for children of Vietnam or Korea service veterans with spina bifida or a benefit for children of women Vietnam veterans w