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. An example includes:
- 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 Veterans Affairs (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 Veterans Affairs 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)
- 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.
- That portion of your unreimbursed medical expense ($1,600 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 Veterans Affairs pays you.
- Since the $1,600 out of pocket expenses is greater than $693, you may reduce your family income by $907 ($1,600 to $693). So, your income for Veterans Affairs pension purposes is now $9,948 ($10,855-$907).
- 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.