A VA pension is a benefit that provides a monthly check to wartime veterans with limited income. To qualify, the veteran must have been discharged from military service under conditions other than dishonorable, and served 90 days or more on active duty, with at least one day during a period of war. The “income” that is counted to determine if a veteran qualifies for this pension is defined as: household income from all sources including but not limited to wages, other pensions, social security, interest and dividends. If the veteran qualifies, then monthly payments are made by the VA to the veteran in order to bring the total household annual income to an established support level.
Annual rates for 2017 are
Veteran alone: $12,907
Veteran with one dependent: $16,902
Each additional dependent child: $2,205
Note: There is a higher rate paid for veterans who are housebound or in need of “aid and attendance” as determined by the VA.
The VA will adjust income by deducting annual household medical expenses they can reasonably presume will recur each month at the same rate such as Medicare, supplemental health insurance premiums and home health care costs. Doctor and medication co-pays are not normally accepted as recurring monthly medical expenses since they normally vary from month to month. Keep good records of medical expenses!
Household assets are also considered by the VA when determining whether or not a veteran is eligible for Pension. Assets have to be under a set limited amount which is generally $80,000, but there are exceptions to that amount. For example, if a veteran has assets of $90,000 but is in a nursing home paying $5,000 per month, then the $90,000 in assets would deplete quickly. That could be an exception to the $80,000 rule. A primary residence does not count as an asset as long as the veteran is living in it.
For veterans under the age of 65: The veteran must be found “permanently and totally disabled”. This means a veteran must meet one of the following:
· Suffers from any disability which is sufficient to render it impossible for the average person to follow a substantially gainful occupation but only if it is reasonably certain the disability will continue throughout the life of the veteran.
· Is a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability.
· Is disabled as determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for the purpose of benefits administered by the SSA. In other words, if the SSA deems a veteran disabled, the VA automatically will.
For veterans 65 and older: These veterans do not have to be deemed permanently and totally disabled, they just to have a countable family income below the yearly limit set by law.
If you have questions about VA Pension, or VA Disability benefits in general, please call Hale Law Office today at 1-800-522-4595.