Veterans Disability Pensions

 

If you are a wartime veteran with a limited income and you are no longer able to work, you may qualify for a Veterans Disability Pension or the Veterans Pension for Veterans 65 or older. Many veterans of wartime service are completely unaware of the fact that if they are 65 or older and on a limited income they may qualify for a VA Pension without being disabled.  An estimated 2 million impoverished veterans and their widows are not receiving the VA pension they deserve because they do not know about it. The VA has had limited success in getting the information to them.  Generally, you may be eligible if:

  • You were discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable AND

         You served at least 90 days of active military service 1 day of which 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 (There are exceptions to this rule), AND

         Your countable family income is below a yearly limit set by law (The yearly limit on income is set by Congress), AND

         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 receiving skilled nursing care, OR

         You are receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR

         You are receiving Supplemental Security Income

 

If your countable income appears to be near the maximum you should apply.  VA will determine if you are eligible and notify you.  If you do not initially qualify, you may reapply if you have un-reimbursed medical expenses during the twelve month period after VA receives your claim that brings your countable income below the yearly income limit (i.e. These are expenses you have paid for medical services or products for which you will not be reimbursed by Medicare or private medical insurance). Countable income for eligibility purposes includes income received by the veteran and his or her dependents, if any, from most sources.   It includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business.  There is a presumption that all of a child's income is available to or for the veteran.   VA may grant an exception to this in hardship cases. 

 

     There is no set limit on how much net worth a veteran and his dependents can have, but net worth cannot be excessive.   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 and any property other than the veteran's residence and a reasonable lot area.    The decision as to whether a claimant'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 claimant's assets are sufficiently large that the claimant could live off these assets for a reasonable period of time.   VA's needs-based programs are not intended to protect substantial assets or build up an estate for the benefit of heirs. The Maximum Annual Pension Rates (MAPR) effective 1 DEC 12 for both living and deceased veteranís surviving spouse/children cannot exceed the following: 

 

2012 Family Income Limits (Effective Dec 1, 2012)

If you are a...

Your yearly income must be less than... *

Veteran with no dependents

$12,256**

Veteran with a spouse or a child

$16,051***

Housebound veteran with no dependents

$14,978

Housebound veteran with one dependent

$18,773

Veteran who needs aid and attendance and you have no dependents

$20,447

Veteran who needs aid and attendance (A/A) and you have one dependent

$24,239

Two Vets Married to Each Other

$16,051

Add for Early War Veteran (Mexican Border Period or WW1) to any category above

$2,783

Add for Each Additional Child to any category above

$2,093

* Some income is not counted toward the yearly limit (for example, welfare benefits, some wages earned by dependent children, and Supplemental Security Income. It's also important to note that your medical related expenses are considered when determining your yearly family income.
* To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed 5% of MAPR, or, $612
** To be deducted, medical expenses must exceed 5% of MAPR, or, $802

 

     Some income is not counted toward the yearly limit (for example, welfare benefits, some wages earned by dependent children, and Supplemental Security Income). It's also important to note that your medical related expenses are considered when determining your yearly family income.  VA pays you the difference between your countable family income and the yearly income limit which describes your situation. This difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly payments rounded down to the nearest dollar.

 

How to Apply for Veterans Disability Pension

 

You can apply by filling out VA Form 21-526, Veteran's Application for Compensation or Pension. If available, attach copies of dependency records (marriage & children's birth certificates) and current medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports). You can also apply on line through the VONAPP website http://vabenefits.vba.va.gov/vonapp/main.asp. For More Information Call 1(800) 827-1000. [Source: www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/pension/index.htm

 

Aid and Attendance or Housebound Veterans Pension

 

Aid and Attendance (A&A) is a benefit paid in addition this benefit may not be paid without eligibility to pension. A veteran may be eligible for A&A when:

 

         The veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday 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 is blind, or so nearly blind as to have 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 paid in addition to monthly pension.    Like A&A, Housebound benefits may not be paid without eligibility to pension.   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.

 

A veteran cannot receive both Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.

 

How to Apply for Aid and Attendance and Housebound Pension:

 

 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.

 

 

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