Can a Dependent Sister Be Claimed as a Dependent in the Army for Benefits?

by Charles Morin ; Updated July 27, 2017
Soldiers can add siblings as authorized dependents with a court order.

Military dependents outside the nuclear family (parents and children), including siblings of the service member, may be added as an authorized dependent if the dependency can be verified by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Establishing the dependency may be simple in practice, but many service members who have added siblings, parents, adopted children and others as authorized dependents have found the process to be arduous.

Rules for Adding a Sister as an Authorized Dependent

Adding a sibling as an authorized dependent is straightforward provided the necessary legal relationships are established. A court ordered guardianship should be sufficient authority for the soldier to request the sibling be an authorized dependent. While a court may grant guardianship over a sibling, the soldier must be able to prove she can care for the sibling. The benefits provided by the Army to authorized dependents should be sufficient to satisfy the court.

Documents and Information Required for Filing

In many cases, the sibling will reside with the soldier at the soldier's duty station and proof of that residency, along with the court ordered guardianship, should be sufficient to grant the secondary dependency status. If the sibling does not reside with the soldier due to deployment or other exigent circumstances, the soldier must be able to show that she provides more than one-half of the sibling's support. Documents should be provided that show the soldier's financial contributions towards the sibling's rent, insurance, food, utilities and tuition.

Completing the Application and Recertification

The Army and DFAS require guardian soldiers adding dependent siblings as legal wards, to complete DFAS Form 137-3. DFAS From 137-3 is a simple form and mostly self-explanatory. However, soldiers are cautioned to review the DFAS Military Pay Secondary Dependency Guide to ensure the form is correctly filled out, the proper documents are provided and the standards of dependency are met.

Sources of Assistance

Soldiers who require assistance can either review the documents and guides provided on the DFAS website, or they are authorized and are encouraged to visit their local legal assistance office at the installation Staff Judge Advocate's office. Legal assistance attorneys are familiar with the steps necessary to obtain the guardianship and DFAS determination. However, Army judge advocates can only help with filling out the forms and providing advice on what to say in court. They are prohibited by Army regulation 27-10 from representing soldiers in local courts.

About the Author

Charles Morin began writing professionally in 2011, offering expertise in small businesses, entrepreneurial financing and advising large complex organizations. Morin holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from Temple University and a law degree from the Widener University School of Law.

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