· What is VA Pension for veterans?
· What are the periods of war?
· Who is eligible?
· What is countable income for veterans pension eligibility purposes?
· What about net worth?
· Are there any exclusions to income or deductions that may be made to reduce countable income?
· How does VA calculate your pension?
· What are Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits?
· How do I apply?
· If I am already receiving monthly payments or a service-connected disability can I get a VA pension too?
· What are the maximum annual pension rates?
· What if I am receiving DIC payments because my husband died in service or of a service connected disability?
What is VA Pension for veterans?
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.
What are the Periods of War?
World War II. December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946, inclusive. If the veteran was in service on December 31, 1946, continuous service before July 26, 1947 is considered World War II service.
Korean Conflict. June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955 inclusive.
Vietnam Era. August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975. The period beginning on February 28, 1961 and ending on May 7, 1975 if the veteran served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period.
Persian Gulf War. August 2, 1990 through date to be prescribed by Presidential proclamation of law.
Who is eligible?
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.
What is countable income for veterans pension eligibility purposes?
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.
What about net worth?
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.
Are there any exclusions to income or deductions that may be made to reduce countable income?
Yes, there are exclusions. The following are examples of what may be excluded:
- Public assistance such as Supplemental Security Income is not considered income.
- Many other specific sources of income are not considered income, however, all income should be reported. VA will exclude any income that the law allows.
- A portion of unreimbursed medical expenses paid by the claimant after VA receives the claimant’s pension claim my be deducted. (These are expenses you have paid for medical services or products for which you will not be reimbursed by Medicare or private medical insurance.)
- Certain other expenses, such as a veteran’s education expenses, and in some cases, a portion of the educational expenses of a child over 18 are deductible.
How does VA calculate your pension?
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.
· If for example the annual income limit for a veteran and spouse is $13,855 and your income combined with your spouses income is $10,855, your VA pension will be $3,000 paid in monthly installments.
· If your total countable family income is more than $13,855 in this example, then you are not eligible for VA Veterans Pension for that year. You may reapply again at any time your countable income falls below the limit.
· A portion of your unreimbursed medical expenses (what you paid out of pocket after medical insurance pays) may reduce your countable income. Using the example above for combined family income ($10,855)
o If your medical expenses for a year are $8,000 and your medical insurance pays $6,400 of that, your unreimbursed medical expense is $1,600.
o That portion of your unreimbursed medical expense ($1600 in the example above) which is more than 5% of the maximum rate of pension, or $693 in this example ($13,855 x .05 = $693), may be deducted from your total combined income which then increases the amount VA pays you.
o Since the $1,600 out of pocket expenses is greater than $693, you may reduce your family income by $907 ($1,600 - $693). So, your income for VA pension purposes is now $9,948 ($10,855-$907).
o Your VA pension would then be $13,855 (maximum rate for a veteran with a spouse) minus $9,948 (total family income after deducting unreimbursed medical expenses), or $3,907 for that year.
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.
What are Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits?
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:
- The veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required by everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself from the hazards of his daily environment, OR
- The veteran is bedridden, in that his disability or disabilities requires that he remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment OR
- The veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity OR
- The veteran is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity or 5/200 or less in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
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:
- The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling AND due to such disability, he is permanently and substantially confined to his immediate premises OR
- The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling AND another disability, or disabilities, evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.
A veteran cannot receive both Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.
How do I apply?
You may apply for Aid & Attendance or Housebound benefits by Department of Veterans Affairs (Not recommended) or
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.
- VA Form 21-2680 Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance. Must be completed by an MD.
- Care Expense Statement. To be completed by Assisted Living Facility or Home Care Provider and also signed by the veteran or widow.
If I am already receiving monthly payments or a service-connected disability can I get a VA pension too?
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.
What are the maximum annual pension rates?
|2012 Pension Rates|
|Veteran + 1
||Widow + 1
||Each Additional Child
What if I am receiving DIC payments because my husband died in service or of a service connected disability?
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 submi