Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the Non-Service Connected VA Pension for veterans?
A. The Non-Service Connected VA Pension is a benefit paid to wartime veterans who have limited or no income and who are age 65 or older, or, if under age 65, who are permanently and totally disabled. Veterans who are more seriously disabled may qualify for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits. These are benefits that are paid in addition to the basic pension rate. If qualified for Aid and Attendance, the benefit could be up to $2,120/month for a Married Veteran, $1,788/month for a Single Veteran or $1,149/month for a Surviving Spouse. All benefits are Tax-Free.
Q. Who is Eligible?
A. Generally, you may be eligible if you meet ALL of the following:
- you were discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable
- you served at least 90 days of active military service “1” day of which was during a war time period.
- your countable family income is below a yearly limit set by law.
- you are age 65 or older, or if under age 65, you are permanently and totally disabled, not due to your own willful misconduct.
Periods of War:
- World War I. April 6, 1917, through November 11, 1918, inclusive. If the veteran served with the United States military forces in Russia, the ending date is April 1, 1920. Service after November 11, 1918 and before July 2, 1921 is considered World War I service if the veteran served in the active military, naval, or air service after April 5, 1917 and before November 12, 1918.
- World War II. December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946, inclusive. If the veteran was in service on December 31, 1946, continuous service before July 26, 1947, is considered World War II service.
- Korean conflict. June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955, inclusive.
- Vietnam era. The period beginning on February 28, 1961, and ending on May 7, 1975, inclusive, in the case of a veteran who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period. The period beginning on August 5, 1964, and ending on May 7, 1975, inclusive, in all other cases.
- Persian Gulf War. August 2, 1990, through date to be prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law.
Q. What is the difference between DIC and Death Pension for a surviving spouse?
A. Death Pension is a needs based benefit paid to an unremarried surviving spouse, or an unmarried child of a deceased wartime veteran. There are exceptions.
Dependents Indemnity Compensation(DIC) is an entitlement benefit paid to eligible survivors (Spouse, unmarried child) of certain deceased service members and veterans. The DIC benefit is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and is dispersed to surviving family members that meet specific criteria. For further details, please visit http://benefits.va.gov/COMPENSATION/types-dependency_and_indemnity.asp.
Death Pension is a needs based financial benefit payable to the unremarried surviving spouse or unmarried child of a deceased wartime veteran. As noted, eligibility for this benefit is based upon the financial need of the applicant. To learn more about the Death Pension please follow this link: http://www.benefits.va.gov/pension/spousepen.asp.
Q. How do I know if I’m eligible as a Surviving Spouse?
A. You may be eligible if you meet ALL of the following:
- the deceased veteran was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions
- the deceased veteran served at least 90 days of active military service “1” day of which was during a war time period.
- If the veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally he or she must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty
- you are the surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran
- your countable income is below a yearly limit set by law
Q. Are there age requirements, or restrictions for surviving spouse?
A. An unremarried spouse can be any age.
A child must be ANY of the following:
- under age 18
- in school and under age 23
- was incapable of self support before the age of 18.
Q. I am a surviving spouse, if I remarry, do I lose my benefits? If I later get divorced or my new spouse dies, do I get my VA benefits back?
A. Yes and yes, but some rules apply.
Regarding Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). a remarried surviving spouse whose subsequent marriage is annulled or declared void can reestablish eligibility as a surviving spouse. However, effective September 30, 1998, the law was changed to allow a surviving spouse to reestablish DIC eligibility after termination of remarriage. Therefore. after September 30, 1998, eligibility for DIC is established in any case in which the remarriage of the surviving spouse is terminated by death, divorce, or annulment. Also, remarriage of a surviving spouse after the age of 57 does not preclude continued payment of DIC.
Regarding Death (Survivor’s) Pension benefits, the law generally requires a surviving spouse’s entitlement to be terminated if the surviving spouse remarries, regardless of age, even if that remarriage is terminated by death or divorce. However, VA regulations establish limited exceptions that generally allow entitlement to Death Pension to be reestablisned if the marriage was:
- Annulled or declared void
- Terminated by death or divorce on or after January 1, 1971, and before November 1, 1990.
Accordingly, you can again receive pension benefits based upon your former spouse’s wartime service if the new marriage was annulled or declared void or you fall within the divorce and death exception window, January 1, 1971 through October 31, 1990.
Q. What are Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits?
A. Aid and Attendance (A&A)is a benefit paid in addition to the monthly pension. This benefit may not be paid without eligibility to pension. A veteran may be eligible for A & A when:
- The claimant(veteran or surviving spouse)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 themselves from the hazards of their daily environment OR,
- The claimant is bedridden, in that their disability requires that they remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment OR,
- The claimant is residing in a nursing home, assisted living,group home, adult day care, or similar facility due to physical or mental incapacity OR,
- The claimant 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.
- The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, due to such disability, they are permanently and substantially confined to their immediate premises, OR,
- The veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling AND, another disability , or disabilities, evaluated as 60 per cent or more disabling.
Q. What is countable income for veterans pension eligibility purposes?
A. This includes gross family income from most sources. It includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business.
Q. What about net worth?
A. Net worth means the net value of the assets of the veteran and dependents. It includes such assets as bank accounts, CD’s, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and any real estate other than the personal residence and a reasonable lot area. There is no set limit on how much net worth a veteran and dependents can have, but net worth cannot be excessive. Each case is decided individually. The life expectancy of the claimant, the available income, and the cost of unreimbursed medical and care costs are taken into consideration.
Q. Are there any exclusions to income or deductions that may be made to reduce countable income?
A. Yes, there are exclusions. The following are examples of what may be excluded:
- Public assistance such as Supplemental Security Income is not considered income.
- Many other specific sources of income are not considered income; however, all income should be reported. The VA will exclude any income that the law allows.
- A portion of unreimbursed medical expenses paid by the claimant after the VA receives the claimant’s pension claim may be deducted. (These are expenses you have paid for medical services or products for which you will not be reimbursed by Medicare or private medical insurance.)
- Certain other expenses, such as a veteran’s education expenses, and in some cases, a portion of the educational expenses of a child over 18 are deductible.
- Final expenses of the veteran’s last illness and burial paid by the surviving spouse or eligible children.
- Neither the veteran nor the surviving spouse may receive both Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.