The VA Pension Plan is a need-based pension program available to veterans who have been honorably discharged and have income and/or assets that fall below the limit set by law.
If you served before September 7, 1980, you must have served for 90 or more days of active-duty service and at least one day during wartime. The eligible wartime periods are listed at www.benefits.va.gov/pension/wartimeperiod.asp.
If you served after September 7, 1980, you must have served at least 24 months of active duty, or the full period for which you were activated.
Any of the following disabled veterans meeting the service requirements are eligible to apply for a VA Pension:
- Those rated totally and permanently disabled
- Patients in nursing homes receiving skilled nursing care
- Those receiving Social Security Disability Insurance
The following veterans are also eligible for VA pensions unrelated to a disability:
- Those age 65 or older falling under the income limit
- Those receiving Supplemental Security Income
Factors Affecting Eligibility or Income Limits
Pension-eligible veterans with dependents are subject to a higher income limit than veterans without dependents; however dependents’ income will be factored into veteran’s income for pension eligibility determination.
Pension-eligible veterans who require aid and attendance (A&A) are eligible for increased pension benefits.
“Aid and Attendance” is defined as any of the following:
- Requiring the aid of another person in order to perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting oneself from the hazards of daily environment
- Being bedridden, in that the veteran’s disability or disabilities require that he or she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment
- Being a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity
- Having corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less
Pension-eligible veterans who are considered housebound are eligible for increased pension benefits.
“Housebound” is defined as either of the following:
- Having a single, permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, due to a disability or disabilities, being permanently and substantially confined to the veteran’s immediate premises
- Having a single, permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND another disability or disabilities, independently evaluated as 60-percent or more disabling
Pension-eligible veterans being furnished with domiciliary care or nursing home care by the VA will be given a reduced pension, unless that care is part of a rehabilitation program.
If a veteran is incarcerated, they are ineligible to receive benefits, though their dependents may be eligible to receive a portion of pension benefits by petitioning the VA.
Veterans who are Medal of Honor recipients are entitled to an additional pension separate from their regular VA pension that does not count toward the income limit for eligibility for the VA pension.
The pension will be awarded automatically upon receipt of the Medal of Honor.
Benefits Rates and Applying for a VA Pension
You can also visit www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-527EZ-ARE.pdf to download VA Form 21-527EZ, “Application for Pension”, and submit it to your local VA office.
The current income limits and modifications for specific periods of service, dependents, and unreimbursed medical expenses that can be deducted are available at www.benefits.va.gov/PENSION/rates_veteran_pen12.asp.