Exploring VA Pensions
“Amounts Paid for Disability Compensation” examines VA disability compensation payable to veterans with service-related disabilities rated by the VA to be 10 percent disabling or more. Veterans can’t apply to receive VA disability compensation for disabilities that weren’t sustained during service.
More information on the disabled VA rating system is detailed in “Checking Your Eligibility for Disability Compensation”.
Those with at least one day of wartime service, regardless to whether they have a service-related disability, are eligible for VA pensions.
VA pensions constitute benefits paid to wartime veterans with inadequate or no revenue 65 years of age or older. Those permanently or completely disabled under the age of 65 may also apply.
VA Pension criteria:
- The veteran was discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable (Chapter 2 discusses how the VA determines characterizations of discharge)
- The veteran served at least 90 days of active military service, one day of which was during a wartime period. Participating in active duty post September 7, 1980 requires a veteran to have served at least 24 months. The complete duration for which they were called or ordered to active duty is required from a member of the Reserves or National Guard.
- The veteran’s measurable yearly income is below a yearly limit set by law (Congress).
- The veteran is 65 years of age or older, or completely and permanently disabled, not in part because of their own deliberate delinquency. Disabilities are not required to be service-related.
To be allocated a VA pension, the veteran must procure an annual household income that is below the limits displayed in Table 6-5.
(TABLE 6-5: Household Income Limits for the Year 2008)
|Table 6-5||Household Income Limits for the Year 2008|
|If You Are a…||Your Yearly Income Must Be Less Than…|
Each year the information in Table 6-5 is updated for inflation on December 1. Up-to-date limits are available at www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates.
Earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business constitute an individual’s countable income. In addition, a child’s income is included if living with the individual, but sectional exclusions of a child’s income can be made. In 2008 the annual exclusion limit was $8,950.
Welfare benefits, food stamps, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) do not qualify to be counted for income. The SSI program allocates stipends to individuals with inadequate income who are 65 years of age or older, blind, or disabled. Particular medical as well as educational expenses are unable to be deducted. Be sure to include all income and deductions when applying for a VA pension as the VA discounts any income and include all deductions designated by law when amassing an annual family income.
The annual pension is divided by 12 and rounded down to the nearest dollar resulting in the amount of the veteran’s monthly pension payment. VA pensions are exempt from income taxes. The annual pension compounds the difference between countable family income after exclusions and deductions, and the income limits displayed in Table 6-5.
Veterans can’t be given a VA non-service-related pension and service-related disability compensation simultaneously. The VA will pay the benefit with the greater payout if the veteran applies for the pension and are granted payments. For more information on disability compensation payment amount read “Amounts Paid for Disability Compensation”.
Medal of Honor pensions
A lifelong pension is allotted to veterans having been awarded the Medal of Honor, starting after retirement or separate from the military. Medal of Honor pensions are paid in addition to other financial benefits veterans are eligible for including military retirement (Chapter 7) or VA disability compensation (“Amounts Paid for Disability Compensation”).
The 2008 pension rate was $1,129 per month and is not subject to incomes taxes.
Congress makes changes to the pension rate each year contingent to inflation. Up-to-date rates are available at www.vba.va.gov/bln/21/Rates/ special1.htm