Veterans’ Pension Benefits
In order to qualify for a VA Pension Benefit, you must meet specific requirements in three distinct areas (more fully described below):
- Service requirement
- Disability requirement
- Needs requirement
The VA pays a Pension to disabled veterans and their surviving spouses who are disabled. This Pension is available whether or not the disability is service-related; however, to be eligible the veteran or surviving spouse must meet all of the following requirements:
- If the veteran enlisted before September 7, 1980, he or she must have served 90 days or more of active duty with at least one day during a period of declared war. Any veteran who enlisted after September 7, 1980, however, must serve at least 24 months or the full period for which that person was called to serve, with a minimum of one day during a period of declared war.
- The veteran's discharge must have been other than dishonorable.
- The Veteran or surviving spouse must be permanently disabled, or age 65 or older, or receiving Social Security Disability benefits. You may need a letter from your doctor to prove that you are disabled. The disability does not have to be related to military service.
- The veteran or surviving spouse must qualify from both an asset and income standpoint.
Depending upon the level of disability, the Veteran or his or her surviving spouse may be entitled to an enhanced pension benefit. However, a Veteran or surviving spouse cannot receive both of the enhancements described below simultaneously.
Housebound. This enhancement to the Basic VA Pension benefit is available to a veteran, or the surviving spouse of a veteran, who is "permanently housebound." In effect, this means that the Veteran must be substantially confined to his or her dwelling and the immediate premises and the confinement must be "permanent;" in other words, it must be expected to continue throughout the Veteran's or the surviving spouse's lifetime.
Aid and attendance (A&A). A Veteran or a surviving spouse who needs an attendant may qualify for additional support in addition to the Basic Veteran's Pension benefit. The Veteran or surviving spouse needs to demonstrate that he or she requires assistance with Activities of Daily Living, or that residence within a protective environment is necessary. A Veteran or surviving spouse who lives in a Skilled Nursing Facility is presumed to need Aid and Attendance.
In order to receive the maximum available benefit, "income for veterans' purposes" must be below the yearly limit set by law; called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR). The MAPRs for 2014 are below:
|Pension for veteran with no dependents||$12,652|
|Pension for veteran with a spouse or child||$16,569|
|Housebound veteran with no dependents||$15,461|
|Housebound veteran with one dependent||$19,379|
|A&A without dependents||$21,107|
|A&A with one dependent||$25,022|
|Add for each additional child to any category||$2,161|
Your pension depends on your income. The VA pays the difference between your income and the MAPR. The pension is usually paid in 12 equal payments.