Veterans Affairs Pension

Veterans Affairs Pension

Initiated in 1818 under the Service Pension Law, the Veterans Affairs pension is a tax-free monetary benefit established to help wartime Veterans struggling from the financial crisis. To confirm your eligibility for a Veterans pension, you must meet certain age and disability requirements defined by the US Department of Veterans Affairs.

When it was first initiated, the pension was only available to Veterans who fought in the War for Independence. However, later on, the pension saw numerous amendments and now, provides monetary benefits to all eligible wartime Veterans. In addition to this, surviving dependents and spouses might also qualify for VA survivor pension.

Related Article: The Complete Guide to Investments and Financial Planning for Veterans

Who Is Eligible for a Veterans Affairs Pension?

While there are various determinants to establish your eligibility for VA pension, the following are the two main clauses you must meet to get started with the Veterans pension.

  • You did not receive a dishonor discharge.
  • Your annual household income and net worth are within limits established by Congress.

You must also note that your net worth would be the total of your and your spouse’s net worth. The current net worth limit to qualify for this benefit is $130,773. This means that your net worth must be less than or $130,773.

Military Service Requirements

In addition to meeting the above requirements, you must also meet any ONE of the below-stated military service requirements-

  • You entered active duty before September 8, 1980, served at least 90 consecutive days, which included at least one day during wartime.
  • You entered active duty after September 7, 1980, as an enlisting person, served the full time for which you were appointed or at least 24 months, which included at least one day during wartime.
  • You entered active duty as an officer after October 16, 1981, and previously served for at least 24 months prior to joining as an officer.

Besides, you must have served during any ONE of the following qualifying wartimes to qualify for the benefit-

  • May 9, 1916-April 5, 1917- Mexican Border Period-
  • April 6, 1917-November 11, 1918- World War I
  • December 7, 1941-December 31, 1946- World War II
  • June 27, 1950-January 31, 1955- Korean Conflict
  • Vietnam War- February 28, 1961-May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served in Vietnam and August 5, 1964-May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside Vietnam
  • August 2, 1990-Future date set by presidential proclamation- Gulf War

Other Requirements

In addition to the above-stated VA pension requirements, you must also meet other age, income, and disability requirements.

Any ONE of the following must also be true-

  • You are 65 and above.
  • You have a total and permanent disability.
  • You live in a nursing home due to a disability.
  • You receive social security disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

Related Article: Best Financial Planners for Veterans

How Much Will You Receive With a VA Pension?

How much you receive from the VA pension depends upon your countable income and Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR). As per the guidelines defined by the VA, countable income is the total of your earnings, including social security benefits, your dependents’ income, VA retirement benefits payments, other retirement payments, and investment payments. Some expenses like reimbursable medical expenses can reduce your income.

MAPR, on the other hand, is the maximum amount you can receive as VA pension. Because this depends upon determinants like the number of dependents and whether your spouse is a Veteran or not, MAPR is different for everyone.

Your VA pension rates are calculated by subtracting MAPR from the total countable income. VA pension also depends upon whether you receive A&A assistance or Housebound benefits or not.

Here’s an average of what your MAPR would look like-

For Veterans With No Dependents 
No Dependents and MAPR
You don’t receive housebound or A&A benefits $14,753
You qualify for Housebound $18,029
You qualify for A&A $24,610
For Veterans With at Least One Dependent 
Veterans with one dependent and MAPR
You don’t receive housebound or A&A benefits $19,320
You qualify for Housebound $22,596
You qualify for A&A $29,175

If you have more than one dependent, an additional $2,523/dependent will be added to your MAPR. However, if the child is working, their wages up to  $12,950 will be excluded from MAPR.

For Veterans Who Are Married to Another Veteran
Veterans who are married to each other and MAPR
Both of you don’t qualify for housebound or A&A $19,320
One of you receive housebound $22,596
Both of you receive housebound $25,870
One of you receive A&A $29,175
Both of you receive A&A $39,036
One of you receive A&A and the other receives housebound $32,443

Note- If you have medical expenses to cover, deduct the amount that is above 5% of the MAPR. For Veterans with no dependents, it is $737. In the case of a Veteran with 1 dependent and both spouses are Veterans, the amount is $966.

Related:Best Financial Planners for Veterans

VA Survivors Pension

Like VA pension, VA survivors pension is also a tax-free, monthly, monetary benefit available to the surviving spouse and unmarried dependents of wartime Veterans who can meet particular disability, income, and age requirements.

Survivors VA Pension Eligibility

Here are the eligibility criteria required to qualify for VA survivors pension-

Qualifying as a Surviving Spouse

To qualify for this benefit as a surviving spouse, you must remain unmarried after the Veteran’s death.

The Veteran must NOT have an unhonorable discharge and was able to meet EITHER of the following conditions:

  • They entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980, served at least 90 days, with at least one day during wartime.
  • They entered active duty on September 7, 1980, served at least 24 months or for the time you were appointed, with at least one day during wartime.
  • They served as an officer after October 16, 1981, and did not serve active duty for at least 24 months.

In addition to this, your annual family income and net worth must be within limits set by Congress. The net worth is the total amount of everything you own minus the debt.

Qualifying as a Surviving Dependent

You must be unmarried to qualify for the Veterans Affairs pension benefit as a surviving dependent. In addition to this, the Veteran must meet the military service requirements listed above.

To qualify, you must meet any one of the following conditions-

  • You are below 18.
  • You are under 23 and attending a school that is approved by the VA.
  • You have a disability that stops you from participating in everyday activities, and the disability was diagnosed before you turned 18.

How to Apply?

You can apply for the VA survivor pension through either of the following ways-

  • You can take the help of an accredited representative who can help you with the process.
  • Fill out VA Form 21P-534EZ and upload it on VA’s website using the direct upload tool through AccessVA.
  • You can fill out the VA Form 21P-534EZ and mail it to the below-stated address.
  • You can submit your application in person by visiting a regional VA office.

Address-

Department of Veterans Affairs

Pension Intake Center

PO Box 5365

Janesville, WI 53547-5365

You can also submit an intent to file before you actually apply for a VA pension. This would give you time to gather the necessary documents while avoiding an effective date.

VA Survivors Pension Rates

VA survivors’ pension is calculated the same as VA pension. The amount is determined after deducting the countable income from MAPR.

Moreover, the net worth limit for VA survivors’ pension is $138,489. If the net worth is more than this limit, your application won’t be considered for VA pension.

Here’s how MAPR would look like depending upon the number of dependents.

For Eligible Spouse With at Least One Dependent 
You are an eligible surviving spouse with at least one dependent and MAPR
You are not eligible for housebound or A&A $12,951
You are eligible for housebound $15,144
You are eligible for A&A $18,867
You are eligible for A&A and the Veteran served in the Spanish-American War $19,438

For every dependent child, an additional amount of $2,523 would be added to your MAPR. If one of the children is working, up to $12,950 might be excluded from the wages.

For Spouses With No Dependents
You are an eligible surviving spouse with no dependents and MAPR
You are not eligible for housebound or A&A $9,896
You are eligible for housebound $12,094
You are eligible for A&A $15,816
You are eligible for A&A and the Veteran served in the Spanish-American War $16,456

Note – If you have medical expenses to cover, the amount that is 5% above your MAPR will be deducted. For spouses with no dependents, it is $494 and $647 for surviving spouses with at least one dependent.

VA Aid and Attendance Benefits

VA Aid and Assistance (A&A) are additional monetary benefits added to the VA pension for Veterans and survivors.

Eligibility

To qualify, you must be receiving the VA pension, and any ONE of the following conditions must be met-

  • You need assistance to perform everyday activities.
  • You are bed-ridden or spend most of the time in bed due to an illness.
  • You live in a nursing home due to a physical or mental disability.
  • Your eyesight is limited, even with glasses or lenses.

How to Apply for a Veterans Affairs Pension?

If you are a Veteran or a survivor with limited financial means, you can apply for VA pension or VA survivors pension online, in person, through mail, or by getting the help of a trained professional.

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