Income Withholding and Medical Support for Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits
Frequently Asked Questions
- How to determine whether a parent paying child support is receiving VA benefits
- How to decide whether to send an Income Withholding for Support (IWO) for VA benefits
- How to apply for an apportionment
- How to secure health care coverage for children of a VA beneficiary
- Additional Questions?
Child support workers need to get locate information from the Federal Parent Locator Service's (FPLS) external locate sources. The VA provides information about pensions, compensation, and educational benefits, as well as the address of the parent paying support.
Section 459 of the Social Security Act, as amended, and the statutes governing benefit payments by the VA provide for withholding of child and spousal support from some federal payments, but child support agencies cannot garnish most benefits paid by the VA. The exception is disability compensation paid in lieu of waived military retired or retainer pay, as discussed in example #1 below.
5 CFR 581.103 (c)(7) provides that if a veteran who is eligible to receive military retired or retainer pay has waived a portion of retired or retainer pay in order to receive disability compensation from the VA, that portion of the VA benefit is subject to garnishment for child and spousal support obligations. Regulations clarify that where the former member has waived the entire amount of his or her military retirement pay, that individual's disability compensation is not subject to income withholding for child support.
For help in determining whether a veteran waived any portion of retired or retainer pay in order to receive VA benefits, contact the VA Regional Office Inquiry Line: 1-800-827-1000.
Sending or terminating an IWO for a VA benefit payment
Send the IWO to the VA regional office serving the veteran. To determine the servicing regional office, contact the VA Regional Office Inquiry Line: 1-800-827-1000.
In addition to the garnishment of benefits discussed above, statutes and regulations also provide for the apportionment of VA benefits to provide spouses and dependents with financial support under certain circumstances. Examples #2 and 3 below explain this option further:
38 U.S.C. § 5307 and VA regulation 38 CFR 3.450 (a)(1)(ii) provide that if the veteran is not residing with a spouse or children and the veteran is not reasonably discharging a responsibility for the spouse's or children's support, then the veteran's pension, compensation, or emergency officer's retirement pay may be apportioned. An apportionment is not made if it would cause undue hardship to the veteran or in certain other circumstances specified by statute or regulation. The VA determines whether to apportion VA benefits according to regulations found at 38 CFR 3.450-3.461.
VA regulation 38 CFR 3.451 authorizes a special apportionment of a veteran's pension, compensation, emergency officer's retirement pay, or dependency and indemnity compensation between the veteran and spouse or children when the spouse or children demonstrate a need for the benefit. The VA bases an apportionment on the facts in the individual case, such as amount of VA benefits payable, other resources and income of the veteran, spouse and children, and special needs of the veteran, spouse, or children. The VA does not make an apportionment if it might cause undue hardship to the veteran or in certain other circumstances.
Follow these steps to request an apportionment:
- The child support agency should write to the VA using agency letterhead to request an apportionment review. Both the appropriate agency official and the parent receiving support should sign the letter.
- After receiving an apportionment application, the VA usually requests a completed VA Form 21-0788, "Information Regarding Apportionment of Beneficiary's Award." The child support agency provides information regarding the parent receiving support income and net worth on the form. A child support office can save time by submitting the form as part of the first step.
- Attach a copy of the current support order to assist the VA in reviewing the request for the apportionment award.
- Attach a copy of the arrearage determination, payment ledger, payment records, etc.
- Send the documents to the VA Regional Office servicing that veteran's benefits. Use the Inquiry Line to determine which VA office is appropriate.
The VA does not provide health care coverage for beneficiaries. Do not send the National Medical Support Notice to the VA.
Contact the VA Financial Services Customer Service:
- The VA Financial Services Customer Service: 877-353-9791
- Case-specific inquiries: 1-800-827-1000