Thursday, September 4, 2014

Eligibility for Veterans Pensions - The Basics

Eligibility for Veterans Pensions - The Basics

4th July or Veterans Day IllustrationThe Department of Veterans Administration provides supplemental income through the Veterans Pension and Survivors benefit programs. There are essentially three types of pensions: Basic, Housebound, and Aid and Attendance. The Veterans Pension provides for supplementary income for low-income wartime Veterans. The Housebound Pension provides for an increase to the Veterans Pension for wartime Veterans who are confined to their place of residence due to permanent disability. The Aid and Attendance Pension provides an additional increase for Veterans who are (mostly) in a nursing home due to their condition. There is also a survivor pension available for spouses and other eligible dependents as well. The benefits range from up to $1,054 per month for a single eligible Veteran for the Veterans Pension to up to $2,085 per month for a Veteran with a dependent (spouse or other dependent). The amount that a Veteran would receive would depend on the income of the Veteran. The benefits are tax free.

Veterans Pension: To be eligible for the Veterans Pension, a Veteran would have had to have completed at least 90 days of Active Duty service and at least one of those days had to have been during a wartime period (24 months if the Veteran entered Active Duty after September 7, 1980). Additionally, the Veteran must be either 65 or older, totally or permanently disabled, a patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, or receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

Housebound Pension: Here, a Veteran would have to be eligible for the Veterans Pension above as well as be substantially confined to his or her home due to a permanent disability.

Aid and Attendance: Aid and Attendance provides the largest benefit, but it also has the strictest requirements. In addition to being able to qualify for the Veterans Pension, you have to either (1) require assistance with at least two of the six activities of daily living or ADLs (bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting to prosthetic devices, or protecting oneself for the hazards of the daily environment), (2) you are bedridden due to your disability (not for rehabilitation or convalescence purposes), (3) you are a patient in a nursing home or skilled nursing facility, or (4) your eyesight is not greater than 5/200 visual acuity (uncorrected) or less in both eyes or a concentric contraction of no greater than five degrees.

Understanding the VA's pension programs is a challenge, but these are the basic descriptions of the pension programs available.