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Graphic for the Veterans Crisis Line. It reads Veterans Cris Lins 1 800 273 8255 press 1

Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Chapter 12 Dependents and Survivors

Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors

Health Care

Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). Under CHAMPVA, certain dependents and survivors can receive reimbursement for most medical expenses – inpatient, outpatient, mental health, prescription medication, skilled nursing care and durable medical equipment.

Eligibility: To be eligible for CHAMPVA, an individual cannot be eligible for TRICARE (the medical program for civilian dependents provided by DoD) and must be one of the following:

  1. The spouse or child of a Veteran whom VA has rated permanently and totally disabled due to a service-connected disability.
  2. The surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who died from a VA-rated service-connected disability, or who, at the time of death, was rated permanently and totally disabled.
  3. The surviving spouse or child of a Veteran who died on active duty service and in the line of duty, not due to misconduct. However, in most of these cases, these family members are eligible for TRICARE, not CHAMPVA.

A surviving spouse under age 55 who remarries loses CHAMPVA eligibility at midnight of the date on remarriage. He/she may re-establish eligibility if the remarriage ends by death, divorce or annulment effective the first day of the month following the termination of the remarriage or Dec. 1, 1999, whichever is later. A surviving spouse who remarries after age 55 does not lose eligibility upon remarriage.

For those who have Medicare entitlement or other health insurance, CHAMPVA is a secondary payer. Beneficiaries with Medicare must be enrolled in Parts A&B to maintain CHAMPVA eligibility. For additional information, contact Purchased Care at the VA Health Administration Center, CHAMPVA, P.O. Box 469028, Denver, CO 80246, call 1-800-733-8387 or visit

Many VA health care facilities provide services to CHAMPVA beneficiaries under the CHAMPVA In-house Treatment Initiative (CITI) program. Contact the nearest VA health care facility to determine if it participates. Those who use a CITI facility incur no cost for services; however, services are provided on a space-available basis, after the needs of Veterans are met. Not all services are available at all times. The coverage of services is dependent upon the CHAMPVA benefit coverage. CHAMPVA beneficiaries who are covered by Medicare cannot use CITI.

VA's Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program entitles the designated Primary Family Caregiver, who is without health insurance coverage, CHAMPVA benefits. Some of the health plans that would make a Primary Family Caregiver ineligible for CHAMPVA benefits include Medicare, Medicaid, commercial health plans through employment and individual plans.

Children Born with Spina Bifida to Certain Vietnam or Korea Veterans: The Spina Bifida Program (SB) is a comprehensive health care benefits program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs for birth children of certain Vietnam and Korea Veterans who have been diagnosed with spina bifida (except spina bifida occulta). The SB program provides reimbursement for inpatient and outpatient medical services, pharmacy, durable medical equipment, and supplies. Purchased Care at the VA's Health Administration Center in Denver, Colorado manages the SB Program, including the authorization of benefits and the subsequent processing and payment of claims. For more information about spina bifida health care benefits, call 1-888-820-1756 or visit

Eligibility: To be eligible for the SB Program, Veterans must be eligible for a monetary award under the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). The Denver VA Regional Office makes the determination regarding this entitlement. The VBA notifies Purchased Care at the VA Health Administration Center after an award is made and the eligible child is enrolled in SB.

Children of Women Vietnam Veterans (CWVV) Born with Certain Birth Defects: The CWVV Health Care Program is a federal health benefits program administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs for children of women Vietnam Veterans born with certain birth defects. The CWVV Program provides reimbursement for medical care related to covered birth defects and conditions associated with the covered birth defect except for spina bifida. For more information about benefits for children with birth defects, call 1-888-820-1756 or visit and select Spina Bifida/Children of Women Vietnam Veterans (CWVV.)

Eligibility: To be eligible for the CWVV Program, Veterans must have received an award under VBA. The Denver VA Regional Office makes determination regarding this entitlement. The VBA notifies Purchased Care at the VA Health Administration Center after an award is made and the eligible child is enrolled in CWVV.

Bereavement Counseling: VA Vet Centers provide bereavement counseling to all family members including spouses, children, parents, and siblings of Servicemembers who die while on active duty. This includes federally activated members of the National Guard and reserve components. Bereavement services may be accessed by calling (202) 461-6530.

Bereavement Counseling related to Veterans: Bereavement counseling is available through any VA medical center to immediate family members of Veterans who die unexpectedly or while participating in a VA hospice or similar program, as long as the immediate family members had been receiving family support services in connection with or in furtherance of the Veteran's treatment. (In other cases, bereavement counseling is available to the Veteran's legal guardian or the individual with whom the Veteran had certified an intention to live, as long as the guardian or individual had been receiving covered family support services.) This bereavement counseling is of limited duration and may only be authorized up to 60 days. However, VA medical center directors have authority to approve a longer period of time when medically indicated. Contact the Social Work Service at the nearest VA medical center to access bereavement counseling.

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