The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) helps Veterans and their families cope with financial challenges by providing supplemental income through the Veterans Pension benefit.  Veterans Pension is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to low-income wartime Veterans.  The Veterans Pension program provides monthly payments to wartime Veterans who meet certain age or disability requirements, and who have income and net worth within certain limits.

 

Am I eligible for Veterans Pension benefits from VA?  If you meet the VA pension eligibility requirements, you may be eligible for the Veterans Pension program.  Both of these must be true: you didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge, and your yearly family income and net worth meet certain limits set by Congress.  For a single Veteran the yearly income allowance is $13,752 and for a Veteran with spouse the yearly income allowance is $18,008.   Also another consideration is your net worth which includes all personal property you own (except your house, your car, and most home furnishings), minus any debt you owe.  The total maximum net worth allowed is $127,061.

And at least one of these must be true about your military service.  You started on active duty before September 8, 1980, and you served at least 90 days on active duty with at least 1 day during wartime, or started on active duty as an enlisted person after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty with at least 1 day during wartime.

And at least one of these must be true.  You are at least 65 years old, or have a permanent and total disability that keeps you from working, or are a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability, or are getting Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

How do I know if I served under an eligible wartime period?  Under current law, VA recognizes the following wartime periods to decide eligibility for VA pension benefits:

  • World War II (December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946)
  • Korean conflict (June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam War era (February 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam.)
  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990, through a future date to be set by law or presidential proclamation)

When calculating pension rates the Veteran and spouse are both allowed to deduct out of pocket medical expenses for the previous calendar year in order to bring their combined income down.  It is fairly complicated to explain in this article, but here is a basic example.  A Veteran is married and their annual family joint total income is $20,000.  That Veteran served during the Vietnam War era and is 70 years old and had a total of 3 years in the Army.  The Veteran and his spouse had $8,000 out of pocket medical expenses for the previous calendar year.  So the calculation would be $20,000 - $8,000 = $12,000 dollars remaining after the authorized medical deductions.

To figure the Pension rate in this example the Veteran would take the $18,008 VA Pension authorization for a married Veteran and subtract that from the $12,000 remaining income, which would equal $6,008 of VA Pension divided by 12 months of the year which would equal a monthly Pension payment to the Veteran of $500.

Veterans may also be eligible for VA Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits which provide monthly payments added to the amount of a monthly VA pension for qualified Veterans.

Am I eligible for VA Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits as a Veteran or survivor?  If you get a VA pension and you meet at least one of the requirements listed, you may be eligible for this benefit.  At least one of these must be true: you need another person to help you perform daily activities, like bathing, feeding, and dressing, or you have to stay in bed—or spend a large portion of the day in bed—because of illness, or you are a patient in a nursing home due to the loss of mental or physical abilities related to a disability, or your eyesight is limited (even with glasses or contact lenses you have only 5/200 or less in both eyes; or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less).

The housebound benefit has different eligibility criteria.  If you get a VA pension and you spend most of your time in your home because of a permanent disability (a disability that doesn’t go away), you may be eligible for this benefit.  Note: you cannot get Aid and Attendance benefits and housebound benefits at the same time.

If you have any questions in regard to this article please give me a call or just stop by the Pontotoc County Veterans Service Office and let’s talk.  I am located in the Court House and my phone number is 489-3907.

 

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