The Veterans Administration has a program for wartime veterans and their widowed spouses to guarantee a minimum income for veterans or widow(er)s who qualify. If a veteran is 65 or older or is permanently or totally disabled for a reason or reasons that are unrelated to their military service and their income is below a certain threshold they may be eligible to receive this VA pension benefit.
There are 3 Levels of Benefit, Basic, Housebound, and Aid & Attendance
Here is a chart explaining the maximum monthly benefits, effective December 1, 2017:
Benefits Veteran (single) Vet +Spouse Widow
Basic 1,097 1,436 736
Homebound 1,341 1,680 899
Aid & Attend. 1,830 2,170 1,176
Wartime Veterans Pension Qualifications
The qualifying factors are:
- Wartime service (1 day of active duty)
- Total service (at least 90 days of active duty)
- 65 or older or totally and permanently disabled
- Countable income under the benefit amount
- Assets within certain limits (this is not exact, but generally $30,000 to $40,000 for a single person and $40,000 to $50,000 for a couple)
- Service and Age (or Disability)
The veteran's character of discharge from the service must be under conditions other than dishonorable. The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service. At least one day of that service period must be during a wartime period. If the period of active duty is after September 7, 1980, most cases will require the veteran have served at least 24 months or the entire term of his or her obligation. Finally, there is a yearly limit on income that is set by Congress, and the veteran’s countable income must be below the limit AND the veteran is 65 or older, OR, the veteran, not due to his/her own willful misconduct, is permanently and totally disabled.
The wartime periods recognized by congress are:
- WWII – 12/7/1941 to 7/25/1947
- Korea – 6/27/1950 to 1/31/1955
- Vietnam – 8/5/1964 to 5/7/1975
- Gulf – 8/2/1990 to Present
Determining Countable Income
Income for VA purposes is all income minus unreimbursed regularly recurring medical expenses. Most sources of income that a veteran receives are included in the calculation of the pension. Retirement income, disability payments, rental income, dividends, and interest from investments, etc. are examples of what is considered countable income.
The total amount of income is then offset with unreimbursed medical expenses. These are usually medical expenses that Medicare and health insurance will not pay for, like nursing or assisted living costs. Also, the cost of medical insurance premiums is counted.
If the calculation is below the benefit amount in the chart above, the veteran or widow will receive a monthly pension equal to the amount that will bring them up to the benefit amount. If the income calculation is zero or below (medical expenses are greater than income), then the maximum benefit will be paid to the veteran or widow.
Aid and Attendance Eligibility
First, the veteran must be eligible for a VA Pension, and then one or more of the following:
- The veteran must require the aid in performing 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, provided by another person.
- The veteran may be bedridden, meaning that the disabilities require the veteran to remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment.
- If the veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to incapacity, either mental or physical.
- The veteran is blind or has corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or the visual field has contracted to 5 degrees or less.
- Housebound Eligibility
- Again the veteran must be eligible for a VA Pension, and the veteran is substantially confined to his/her immediate premises because of a disability.
The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Nursing Home Expense Planning, and Veterans Pension Planning. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.
Contact our office by calling (608) 344-5491 to schedule a strategy session.