Generally you may be eligible if:
You were discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable,
You served at least 90 days of active military service, 1 day of which was during a period of war. If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty. (There are exceptions to this rule)
Your countable family income is below a yearly limit set by law. (The yearly limit of income is set by congress.)
You are age 65 or older, or you are permanently and totally disabled, not due to your own willful misconduct.
As you can see, there are a number of criteria that may affect your eligibility to pension benefits. If you are unsure if you meet all criteria, we encourage you to contact our office if your countable income appears to be near or over the maximum. You can deduct your Medicare premiums, private health insurance premiums and the cost of an assisted living facility or In-Home Care provider from your income to reduce your income.
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Pension is a benefit paid to wartime veterans who have limited or no income, and who are age 65 or older, or, if under 65, who are permanently and totally disabled. Veterans who are more seriously disabled may qualify for Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits. These are benefits that are paid in addition to the basic pension rate.
This includes income received by the veteran and his or her dependents from most sources. It includes earnings, social security, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business.
Net worth means the net value of the assets of the veteran and his or her dependents. It includes such assets as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and any property other than the veteran’s residence and a reasonable lot area. There is no set limit on how much net worth a veteran and his dependents can have, but net worth cannot be excessive. The decision as to whether a claimant’s net worth is excessive depends on the facts of each individual case. All net worth should be reported and VA will determine if a claimant’s assets are sufficiently large that the claimant could live off these assets for a reasonable period of time. VA’s needs-based programs are not intended to protect substantial assets or build up an estate for the benefit of heirs.
Yes, there are exclusions. The following are examples of what may be excluded:
Your annual pension is calculated by first totaling all your countable income. Then any deductions are subtracted from that total. The remaining countable income is deducted from the appropriate annual income which is determined by the number of your dependents, if any, and whether or not you are entitled to housebound or aid and attendance benefits. This amount is then divided by 12 and rounded to the nearest dollar. This gives you the amount of your monthly payment.
Your pension is calculated to be an amount equal to the difference between your countable family income and the annual pension limit set by Congress.
Net worth, or corpus of estate (the value of your assets) also has a bearing on your pension eligibility. Because VA pension is a needs based benefit, a large net worth may render you ineligible.
Net worth and corpus of estate mean the market value, less mortgages or other encumbrances, of all real and personal property owned by the veteran, except the veteran’s dwelling (single family unit), including a reasonable lot area, and personal effects to and consistent with the claimant’s reasonable mode of life.
There are a number of other criteria that may affect your eligibility to pension benefits such as veterans who are in need of regular aid and attendance to manage normal daily activities, or who are in a care facility. That is why we encourage you to go ahead and file an application, particularly if your countable income appears to be near the maximum.
Aid & Attendance (A&A) is a benefit paid in addition to monthly pension. This benefit may not be paid without eligibility to pension. A veteran may be eligible for A&A when:
Housebound is paid in addition to monthly pension. Like A&A, Housebound benefits may not be paid without eligibility to pension. A veteran may be eligible for Housebound benefits when:
A veteran cannot receive both Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.
You may apply for Aid & Attendance or Housebound benefits by Department of Veterans Affairs (Not recommended) or you may complete Information to Apply for Aid & Attendance and VA Form 21-2680 Informal Claim. Completed applications can be emailed, faxed or mailed to this office. We are a county office and there are no charges for this service.
In addition you will need to get the following forms completed.
You cannot receive a VA non-service connected pension and service-connected compensation at the same time. However, if you apply for pension and are awarded payments, VA will pay you whichever benefit is the greater.
Maximum pension rates are set annually by Congress.
No, you cannot receive both the DIC payments and Pension benefits at the same time. DIC payments are always higher than pension benefits.
If you meet the requirements for Housebound or Aid & Attendance benefits you can get an additional amount added to your DIC payments. To apply for A&A simply have your doctor complete VA Form 21-2680 and submit.