As A Veteran, Can You Get A VA Pension? – Brevard NC

 


Sometime ago, a law firm made a presentation to senior citizens at an assisted living facility in Western North Carolina. The presentation concerned the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs program, “Aid and Attendance.” Unfortunately, the presentation did not go far enough to present the whole picture, especially the part about a veteran’s income.

During the presentation, a VA income figure of $25,448 was shown on the screen. That certainly got everyone’s attention in the room. Who wouldn’t want to get $25,448 a year in VA tax-free income? Yes, a qualified wartime veteran could receive that much money. However, that amount would refer to a veteran, with one dependent and zero income (from all sources) that needed “Aid & Attendance.” A&A means a medical doctor must certify that the veteran needs daily assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, sanitary needs and walking.


More importantly, what was not mentioned in the presentation was that V.A. pensions are income driven; how much money the veteran and spouse receive will determine how large the pension will be. That means all income such as Social Security, retirement income, interest payments, stocks, bonds and annuities counts against the maximum pension the V.A. will pay.

Here are the basic, service requirements for a veteran to get a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pension:

Released from active duty with an honorable or general under honorable conditions discharge, and served on active duty during the following wartime periods:

•World War II - Dec. 7, 1941 to Dec. 31, 1946

•Korean Conflict - June 27, 1950 to Jan. 31, 1955

•Vietnam - Aug. 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975.

•Persian Gulf War - Aug. 2, 1990 to a date to be announced.

If the veteran served on or before Sept. 6, 1980, he or she had to have served 90 days or more of active duty with at least one day during a period of wartime. If the veteran served on or after Sept. 7, 1980, he or she had to serve at least 24 months with at least one day during a period of wartime, and are permanently and totally disabled, or are age 65 or older, and total gross family income is in the following figures.

If you have a yearly income less than:

Veteran (single) - standard pension $12,868;

Veteran (single) - housebound $15,725;

Veteran (single) - needs Aid & Attendance $21,466;

Veteran (married) - standard pension $16,851;

Veteran (married) - Housebound $19,710 or

Veteran (married) - needs Aid & Attendance $25,448.

Here are the figures for the surviving spouse:

If you have a yearly income less than:

Surviving spouse - standard pension $8,630;

Surviving spouse - housebound $10,548; or

Surviving spouse - needs Aid & Attendance $13,794.

Once you have picked the appropriate yearly income, add up all your income and assets (other than primary residence). Assets are such things as bank accounts, savings bonds, IRAs, CDs. If your income and assets are above the appropriate yearly income, then you have one more step.


You add up all your unreimbursed medical expenses. This is money paid out of your own pocket that you do not get back. This includes such things as Medicare, Parts B or D, pharmacy co-pays, home health care or assisted living facilities; In short, any unreimbursed medical expense that the veteran or widow pays out of his or her own pocket. Apply these figures against your income. If the unreimbursed figures reduce the income below the VA amount, then there would be a pension.

Here is a very simple example. Let us use the married veteran standard pension rate of $16,851. The veteran and spouse have income of $18,851 a year, $2,000 over the VA rate. The veteran and spouse have unreimbursed medical expenses of $4,000 a year. Subtract the $4,000 from the $18,851 and you get $14,851. That amount is $2,000 below the VA’s $16,851, so the veteran would get an annual pension of $2,000. Of course, every case is different and amounts would vary widely.

If a veteran or widow thinks they may be eligible for the VA pension benefit, they need to contact the county veterans service office at 884-3276 or email [email protected]

Applying for any VA benefit is a free service.

The county Veterans Service Office is located in the Community Services Building, 98 East Morgan Street, Room 237, Brevard. Nearby buildings include the American Legion building, First Baptist Church and the old county jail. The office is normally open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for walk-in traffic and appointments, and Monday, Wednesday, and Friday by appointment. It is best to make an appointment because putting together a claim to submit to the VA is an involved process. Call and leave a message, and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

(Pearsall is the Transylvania County Veterans Service Officer.)

 
 

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