Veterans Benefits are perhaps the most misunderstood and underutilized resources that are available to millions of veterans and their families. While it is commonly known that certain benefits are available for the brave men and women who served in our armed forces, many veterans (and their families) are unaware that they could be eligible for a special pension through the Department of Veterans Affairs even if they did not retire from the military or suffer injuries in the line of duty.
VA Improved Pension (For Living Veterans) and Survivor’s Pension
One such cash benefit, the non-service-connected pension, is called the “Improved Pension.” The pension for surviving spouses is generally called the “Death Pension.” Both are paid tax-free to the claimant.
These non-service-connected pension benefits are not well publicized. Only approximately 10% of the eligible claimants are receiving the Improved Pension or Death Pension benefits.
Eligibility for VA Improved Pension and Death Pension
For eligibility, the veteran must:
- Be age 65 or older, or permanently and totally disabled; AND
- Have served at least 90 consecutive days of active duty service, one day of which must have been during a war-time period; AND
- Have limited income and assets available; AND
- Have been discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable.
Note: Gulf War Veterans or later must meet a minimum active duty service requirement of two continuous years that includes one day during a wartime period.
Eligibility for a surviving spouse would also require that he or she:
- Had been married to the veteran at the time of the veteran’s death; AND
- Had been married to the veteran for at least 12 months, unless the couple had a child together; AND
- Cannot have remarried.
Many people refer to these pension benefits as “VA Aid and Attendance” (A&A). However, Aid & Attendance refers to an additional benefit a veteran or surviving spouse may receive once they are eligible for the Improved Pension.
Aid & Attendance
An additional benefit known as Aid & Attendance may be available to Veterans or widows of Veterans who meet the eligibility requirements for Improved Pension listed above AND require the regular aid and attendance of another person. The Veteran or widow of a Veteran shall be considered in need of Aid & Attendance if he or she is blind, living in a nursing home, or in need of the assistance of another person to complete his or her activities of daily living and who need a protective environment. Activities of daily living include bathing, dressing, toileting, feeding, or ambulating.
VA Improved Pension eligibility plus Aid & Attendance eligibility provides the highest possible monetary benefit available through the non-service connected pension program. The specific dollar amounts are listed below.
2015 Maximum Rates for Pension plus Aid & Attendance
|Claimant||Monthly Monetary Benefit||Annual Monetary Benefit|
|Single Veteran||$1,788 per month||$21,456 per year|
|Married Veteran||$2,120 per month||$25,440 per year|
|Widow/Surviving Spouse||$1,149 per month||$13,788 per year|
Because the Improved Pension and Death Pension are needs based, claimants must comply with income and asset limits to be eligible. We offer veterans and their families planning services to assist in attaining eligibility for the VA Pension benefits.
Note: Each VA Claim is unique, and the above criteria is generic in nature and may not be applicable to each claimant. There are never any guarantees that any claim or specific benefit amount will be awarded.
Legal Disclaimer: This information has been provided for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. Proper legal advice can only be given based on the specific facts and relevant law for each individual. Therefore, you should always seek appropriate counsel before acting upon the information contained herein.
If you or a family member is a veteran facing long-term care expenses, you should call us at 770-854-0688 to discuss how you may obtain these tax-free VA Pension benefits.