2015 Maximum Monthly Pension Benefit plus Aid & Attendance*
Surviving Spouse $1149
Single Veteran $1788
Married Veteran $2120
Veteran Couple $2837
Veteran pensions are available to large numbers of seniors age 65 or older who have non-service-connected disabilities, and are financially eligible. While Veterans who have service-connected disabilities may be eligible for benefits that are classified as Disability “Compensation”, there are many more veterans that have non-service-connected disability needs. For those Veterans or their widow(er) who meet the requisite military service and financial criteria, certain VA pension benefits can make a huge difference in the ability of these veterans or their widow(er) to afford basic costs of living, in-home caregivers in order to be able to stay at home, or to afford to live in an assisted living facility of his or her choice.
*The maximum VA pension benefits for 2015 have increased by the 1.7% COLA.
Improved Pension or Non Service-Connected Disability Pension. Low-income wartime Veterans may qualify for improved pension if they meet certain service, income and net worth limits set by law; are age 65 or older, or under age 65 and permanently and totally disabled, a patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, or receiving Supplemental Security Income. Generally, a Veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a VA recognized wartime period. The 90-day active service requirement does not apply to Veterans discharged from the military due to a service-connected disability. The Veteran’s discharge must have been under conditions other than dishonorable and the disability must be for reasons other than the Veteran’s own willful misconduct. Pension payments are made to bring the Veteran’s total income, including other retirement or Social Security income, to a level set by Congress.
Aid and Attendance (A&A) is a benefit paid in addition to the improved pension. A veteran may be eligible for enhanced A&A pension benefit when:
- The veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform 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,OR,
- The veteran is bedridden, in that his/her disability or disabilities requires that he/she remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment,OR,
- The veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity,OR,
- The veteran is blind, or so nearly blind as to have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.
Note, Veterans and surviving spouses who are ineligible for basic improved pension based on annual income may still be eligible for VA Pension if they are eligible for aid and attendance benefits because a higher income limit applies and out-of-pocket unreimbursed medical expenses for nursing home, home-health care, or certain assisted living expenses may be used to reduce countable annual income, which may result in a higher pension benefit.
If you or a loved one is a Veteran or widow(er) of a Veteran, is over age 65, and is currently or anticipates paying for long term care expenses, you should seek legal advice concerning the specific eligibility requirements for VA A&A benefits in light of your medical and financial circumstances. After all, wouldn’t the pension benefit above help? In many instances, this VA pension benefit can make all the difference between affording important home health or assisted living expenses, or not. Feel free to give Bivens & Associates a call today to learn more about VA Benefits that you may earn!