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Do Stepchildren Qualify for Military Benefits?

The United States military provides its military families with a wide range of benefits as a way of making sure that our military families are provided for. But do stepchildren qualify for military benefits?

Stepchildren are considered dependents and qualify for many military benefits and privileges, as long as the parent of the child and the military member is married.

There is a wide range of benefits that children may participate in that are provided by the military for their military families, and stepchildren are just as much a part of the family as any other child.

Raising a family is not cheap.  As a service member, you are eligible for a variety of family benefits that help with the costs of necessities like education, medical care, and child care.

To help pay for your children’s expenditures, take advantage of all of your military perks, including adoption allowances and grants.

Military dad with wife holding his small daughter.

Can a Stepchild Use a GI Bill?

Benefits under the GI Bill assist in paying for college, graduate school, and training programs. Further, GI Bill benefits may be transferred to another family member. But what about a stepchild? Can a stepchild use a GI Bill?

A stepchild can use a GI Bill providing an eligible recipient of the GI Bill transfers the GI Bill benefits to the stepchild. Those eligible to receive GI Bill benefits are the recipient’s children, their spouse, or any combination of their spouse and child or children.

A military member who has served on or after Aug. 1, 2009, who is eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Forever GI Bill), and falls under the following conditions may transfer their GI Bill benefits.

  • Has served in the Armed Forces for at least six years on the day they opt to transfer education benefits and commits to serve in the Armed Forces for four more years from the date of election.
  • Has at least ten years of service in the Armed Forces (active duty and/or Selected Reserve) on the date of election, is precluded by either standard policy (service or DoD) or statute from committing to four additional years, and agrees to serve for the maximum amount of time allowed by such policy or statute.

Service personnel with fewer than 16 years of cumulative active duty or chosen reserve service, as applicable, were no longer eligible to transfer GI Bill benefits as of July 12th, 2019.

There were previously no limitations on when military members might transfer educational advantages to their family members. Other than that, all transferability approvals remain the same.

This effectively implies that service members will have to begin the GI Bill benefit transfer procedure between the ages of six and sixteen.

Can I Add My Stepchild to TRICARE?

We all want to make sure our families are protected with health insurance in the case of an emergency, especially for our children. Are you wondering, can I add my stepchild to TRICARE?

You can add your stepchild to TRICARE, as TRICARE is available for all unmarried biological, stepchildren, and adoptive children until they reach the age of 21. This age is extended to 23 if the child is enrolled in college.

Healthcare is important, so it’s nice to know that stepchildren are included as dependents for TRICARE.

What is TRICARE?

TRICARE is a uniformed-services healthcare program that covers active duty service members (ADSMs), active duty family members (ADFMs), National Guard and Reserve members and their families, retirees, and retiree family members, survivors, and select former spouses all over the world.

To develop, preserve, sustain, and restore health for individuals entrusted to their care, TRICARE brings together the health care resources of the Military Health System, such as military hospitals and clinics, with a network of civilian health care experts, institutions, pharmacies, and suppliers.

TRICARE is available to unmarried biological, step-children, and adoptive children until they reach the age of 21. (or 23 if in college, see “College Students” below).

If he or she is seriously handicapped, eligibility may be extended beyond these age limitations.

He or she may be eligible for TRICARE Young Adult coverage at the age of 21 or 23.

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Keep Your DEERS Information Updated

Did you know that failing to maintain your family’s information up to date in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) might cause delays in their healthcare access?

Errors can also create delays in your claims and prescription fulfillment. Checking your DEERS records is critical right now.

Whether you’re new to TRICARE or a long-time beneficiary, it’s vital to keep your information in DEERS up to date. You’ll be able to use your TRICARE coverage and obtain the care you need if you do so.

Important to point out is that when you enroll your child in DEERS, they are not automatically enrolled in any TRICARE health plan.

You will need to be sure to sign them up for TRICARE.

Can Stepchildren Qualify for Military Veteran Benefits?

A veteran can claim benefits for their dependents if they have a service-connected disability rating of 30% or higher. But what about stepchildren? Can stepchildren qualify for military veteran benefits?

Stepchildren can qualify for military veteran benefits providing they are of a qualifying age and currently residing within the veteran’s home. The veteran and the stepchild’s parent must be married, and IRS documentation to show which parent is claiming the child as their dependent is also helpful.

A spouse, child, stepchild, or dependent parent or parents are all examples of dependents. It is a veteran’s claim, and if it is approved, the payment is added to the veteran’s monthly benefit payment.

It is not paid to the spouse or child separately.

The child must be a biological child, adopted child, or stepchild of a veteran to qualify as a child or surviving child for VA purposes.

In addition, the child must be unmarried. Finally, the child must be of a qualifying age (under the age of 18 or between the ages of 18 and 23 if pursuing an education) or become permanently unable of self-support before turning 18.

To keep receiving dependency payments for a child between the ages of 18 and 23, the veteran must complete and file Form 21-674 – Request for Approval of School Attendance with the VA regularly.

As a veteran’s stepchild, a child who is the biological kid of a veteran’s spouse, former spouse, or surviving spouse may be eligible for benefits.

A veteran must prove that the child is currently a resident in the veteran’s home in addition to showing the marital and biological link (such as with a marriage certificate of the child’s parent with the veteran and the child’s birth certificate).

Proof of which parent claims the stepchild as a dependent on IRS papers is one example of such evidence.

Do Stepchildren Qualify For Military Child Care?

Basic eligibility, priority, and participant age are the three elements that decide who is eligible for military child care and when they may get it. These elements are discussed in greater depth farther down.

To enroll in any military child care program, a child must be a dependent of an eligible sponsor.

An individual with a Department of Defense affiliation is the sponsor (e.g., Active Duty Military, DoD Civilian). Because of the sponsor’s DoD affiliation, his or her dependent children are eligible for military child care.

Active military personnel may only enroll a qualifying dependent in military child care.   A qualified child is someone who is between the ages of birth and 12 and has one of the following relationships with the eligible sponsor:

A child who lives with the sponsor as a dependent or secondary dependent

Any additional child who resides with the sponsor and for whom the sponsor has legal guardianship

Foster child living with the sponsor

A child who is residing with a person serving “in loco parentis” on behalf of the child’s qualified sponsor, is required to leave the region temporarily for military duty.

An “in loco parentis” connection occurs when a person assumes the responsibilities and obligations of a parent without legally becoming an adoptive parent or legal guardian.

While the child’s qualified sponsor is away, the youngster must live with and be supported by this individual.

On file must be a particular power of attorney to operate “in loco parents.”

Active duty service personnel, including reservists on active orders, may be eligible for child care cost assistance if they do not have access to on-base child care if there is a waiting list for military child care.

This program enables military families to enroll in military-approved civilian child care providers (off base) and get fee assistance to defray the cost of care.

Do Stepchildren Qualify For Military Survivor Benefits?

When a military person dies while on service or after retirement, the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) offers financial support to their wives and/or children. One may ask, do stepchildren qualify for military survivor benefits?

Stepchildren do qualify for military survivor benefits (SBP), as stepchildren are considered dependents providing the child’s parent and member of the military are married. SBP payments are available to children who are unmarried, under the age of 18, or under the age of 22 if still in education.

If the condition happened before the age of 18, a kid who is disabled and unable to support himself or herself is nonetheless eligible (or before age 22 if a full-time student).

A child’s eligibility will be terminated if he or she marries at any age. Only those eligible children from your former spouse’s marriage are covered if you choose former spouse and children coverage.

SBP benefits are available to your children who are under 22 years old and enrolled full-time in a high school, trade school, technical or vocational institute, junior college, college, university, or equivalent authorized educational facility.

A child whose twenty-second birthday falls before July 1 or after August 31 of a calendar year is deemed to be 22 years old on the first day of July following that birthday while pursuing a full-time course of study or training.

SBP was created to provide income security to not just a spouse, but also the children until they become self-sufficient or no longer dependent. Child coverage can be chosen with or without coverage for a former spouse.

An annuity is a monthly payout provided by SBP to qualifying recipients. The annuitant is the person who receives an SBP annuity.

The SBP benefit is calculated as a percentage of the retiring salary. The proportion varies depending on whether the member elects full or limited coverage when they sign up (generally at retirement or at a 20-year qualification).

When a service member dies, SBP pays up to 55 percent of his or her retirement salary to an eligible beneficiary.

The SBP annuity is given out monthly to the surviving spouse or the member’s child or children when the service member passes away.

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