1. What is VA Pension for Veterans?
2. Who is eligible?
3. What is income for VA purposes for Veterans pension eligibility purposes?
4. What about net worth?
5. Are there any exclusions to income or deductions that may be made to reduce my income for VA purposes?
6. How does VA calculate your pension?
7. What are Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits? How Do I Apply?
8. If I am already receiving monthly payments or a service-connected disability can I get a VA pension too?
9. How do I apply for Veterans non-service connected pension?
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, under 65, and are permanently and totally disabled, or, a patient in a nursing home, or, are recieiving Social Secruity disability payments. Veterans who are more seriously disabled may qualify for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. These are benefits that are paid in addition to the basic pension rate.
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 and at least 1 day was during a war time period. 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 and at least 1 day was during a war time period. (There are exceptions to this rule),
- your income for VA purposes is below the maximum annual pension rate The yearly maximum annual pension rate is set by Congress,
- you are age 65 or older, OR, you are permanently and totally disabled, not due to your own willful misconduct, OR, you are a patient in a nursing home, OR, you are receiving Social Security disability benefits.
What is income for VA purposes?
It is income received by the Veteran and his or her dependents, if any, from most sources. It includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, , unemployement insurance payments, interest and dividends payments, and net income from farming, business or rental property.
There is a presumption that all of a child's income is available to or for the veteran. VA may grant an exception in hardship cases.
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, some annuities and trust 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 or her dependents can have, but net worth cannot be excessive. The decision as to whether a Veteran'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 Veteran's assets are of a sufficient amount that the claimant could live off these assets for a reasonable period of time. Pension is a needs-based program and is not intended to protect substantial assets or build up an estate for the benefit of heirs.
- 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 Veteran after VA receives the Veteran's pension claim may be used to help reduce your income for VA purposes. These are expense 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 income for VA purposes. Then any deductions are subtracted from that total. The remaining income for VA purposes is deducted from the appropriate maximum annual pensoin rate limit 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 down to the nearest dollar. This gives you the amount of your monthly payment. Click here to see an example of the pension calculation.
- Aid and Attendance (A&A) is an enhanced or special monthly pension benefit paid in addition to basic pension. You may not receive enhanced or special monthly pension without first establishing eligibility for basic VA pension. However, because enhanced pension is based upon a higher income limit, a claimant ineligible for basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for enhanced pension benefits. A Veteran may be eligible for A&A when:
- The Veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform his or her activities of daily living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, OR,
- The Veteran is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she 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 has corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
- Housebound is an enhanced or special monthly pension benefit paid in addition to basic pension. You may not receive enhanced or special monthly pension without first establishing eligibility for basic VA pension. However, because enhanced pension is based upon a higher income limit, a claimant ineligible for basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for enhanced pension benefits. 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/she is permanently and substantially confined to his/her 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.
How to Apply for Aid and Attendance and Housebound:
- You may apply for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits by writing to the VA regional office having jurisdiction of the claim. That would be the office where you filed a claim for pension benefits. If the regional office of jurisdiction is not known, you may file the request with any VA regional office.
- You should include copies of any evidence, preferably a report from an attending physician validating the need for Aid and Attendance or Housebound type care.
- The report should be in sufficient detail to determine whether there is disease or injury producing physical or mental impairment, loss of coordination, or conditions affecting the ability to dress and undress, to feed oneself, to attend to sanitary needs, and to keep oneself ordinarily clean and presentable.
- In addition, it is necessary to determine whether the claimant is confined to the home or immediate premises.
- Whether the claim is for Aid and Attendance or Housebound, the report should indicate how well the individual gets around, where the individual goes, and what he or she is able to do during a typical day.
If I am already receiving monthly payments for a service-connected disability can I get a VA pension too?
You cannot receive both a VA non-service connected pension and service-connected compensation payments at the same time. However, if you apply for pension and are awarded payments, VA will pay you whichever benefit is the greater amount.
- You can apply on line at the following VA web site: http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp .
- You may download and fill out VA Form 21-526, Veteran's Application for Compensation and/or Pension. Make sure you download all parts of the application as well as the instructions for filling out the forms. If available, attach copies of dependency records (marriage & children's birth certificates).
You must send the completed application and any copies of other documents to the VA regional office that serves your area of residence. Please click here to find the office of jurisdiction.
- You may also contact a Veterans Service Officer (VSO) from a Veterans service organization. Please call the toll free number, 1-800-827-1000, for the location of the nearest VSO nearest you. You may also look to the VA web site for a list of the nationally recognized Veterans Service Organizations.
Disclaimer --We will make every effort to keep this Internet Site current and accurate, but there will surely be times when this site will not be current. These pages are for general information only, your best source of current information is to contact the managers of the benefits programs.