Disability compensation benefits may not be garnished. However, VA may allow an apportionment. The
end result is much the same. The veteran will have money taken from his
benefit payment to satisfy an obligation of an order for child support
or alimony. It's true that a veterans VA disability compensation can't be garnished.
However, if the veteran has a child support or alimony order from a
family court and the veteran falls behind on the obligation, the VA can
and will apportion the payment to the obligee (the person owed the
money) and they will send them the money deducted from the veterans
There are two ways to stop this before it happens. Pay the obligation on
time or ask the family court where the divorce order came from to lower
Veterans will be given the right to appeal before any apportionment is
effective. However, if the money is clearly owed and there are no
reasonable extenuating circumstances, the VA will usually act swiftly to
deliver the money directly to the beneficiary requesting the
The most common reason for apportionment is that child support obligations are in arrears.
The veteran must recognize that in many states, any money collected
through apportionment and delivered to the obligee (custodial parent)
may not actually satisfy the state as a child support payment.
Many states require that payments must be recorded directly through the
state's child support enforcement authority or it will be classed as a
"gift" and it will not be applied toward arrears.
Learning as much as you can about apportionment is the key to using this option. Please visit here and read
Subpart V - General Authorization Issues and Claimant Notifications
Chapter 3 - Apportionments (Table of Contents here, to view what information pertains to you)
To begin the process to request an apportionment you must complete a VA Form 21-0788 as well as filling out the financial statement form accompanying apportionment paperwork. You will also have to provide copies of the order of the Family Court and a statement from your state's child support enforcement bureau to show arrearages.
As always, we encourage that you should download and print the form. Then mail it to the VA Regional Office where the veterans claims file is located. Always use certified mail, return receipt requested.
Don't send VA original documents such as divorce decrees. Send good legible copies and retain original documents for your records.
If you are not receiving the court ordered payments to support yourself or your children, don't hesitate to complete the form to ask for apportionment.
The bottom line is that to be successful in seeking an apportionment, one must have all the details in perfect order...a ruling from the family court and a completed and detailed financial statement. You must also be able to show evidence that the veteran hasn't met the court ordered obligation. This is usually a letter from the state child support enforcement agency that tells of the arrearages. If the veteran (or VA) has dropped the dependents from the payment calculation it won't make any difference in this decision.
The process may be lengthy (as in months) and nobody can answer questions about eligibility until you apply.
In some cases, the veteran may not always be forthcoming with the information with the disability award which is why it is important to start the process as soon as you have all necessary paperwork. Regardless
of whether or not, the veteran has received a disability rating from
the VA you should still file for apportionment as soon as you have the
divorce decree. Your information will be on file with the VA so that
when a disability rating is awarded you will be notified regarding that
and how to proceed thereafter.
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