Veterans aid pension programs are available in two primary forms. The first, veterans pension benefits, are meant to help low-income veterans who are experiencing financial difficulties. The second, veteran survivors pensions, offer financial assistance to the family members of a deceased veteran. The two programs share similar purposes, but they function in different ways. Get more information about veterans aid in the following sections:
- Veterans pension benefits
- Aid and Attendance
- Veteran survivors pension
Veterans Pension Benefits
Veterans pension benefits primarily serve to assist veterans who are struggling financially. This veterans aid pension can provide veterans with a tax-free supplemental income. To collect veterans pension benefits, the veteran must have a certain maximum yearly income, which is determined by Congress. The income is determined by considering the veteran's countable income and net worth. Countable income refers to general earnings that the veteran makes, such as income from working, disability payments, retirement payments, interest, owning a business, income from other veterans aid programs and earnings from other sources. Net worth is a collection of assets held by the veteran, such as his or her bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities and any properties the veteran might own outside of his or her home.
To determine veterans aid pension eligibility, both the countable income and net worth are compared to an annual pension limit determined by Congress. The amount takes into account whether or not the veteran is married or has children. The veteran can start collecting veterans pension benefits if his or her countable income and net worth are lower than the number set by Congress for the year.
If eligible for the veterans aid pension benefits program, a veteran beneficiary will receive the difference between his or her countable income and the annual pension limit set by Congress. In most situations, this type of veterans aid is paid out in 12 equal monthly payments. Veterans pension benefits come in nine different payment groups. The payments are determined by a number of factors, including whether the veteran has a spouse or children and what kind of income he or she receives each year. The pay rates for veterans pension benefits typically change from year to year to adjust for inflation.
Veterans pension benefits cannot be disbursed to a living veteran until he or she has turned 65. An exception is made for any veteran who is considered to be totally disabled. These veterans are able to collect a pension while on disability, but the veteran must submit medical evidence supporting a disability claim.
Aid and Attendance
Some VA disability pension benefits are part of a separate program known as Aid and Attendance. Aid and Attendance is meant for veterans or survivors who meet all of the requirements for veterans pension benefits, but who also have additional needs. The program is specifically intended for veterans and survivors who are unable to take care of themselves at home and require assistance from a caregiver. These VA disability pension benefits also apply to any veterans or survivors who live in a nursing home. Veterans or survivors who meet Aid and Attendance eligibility guidelines will receive additional monthly payments that go toward the cost of having a caregiver assist them.
Veteran Survivors Pension
The veteran survivors pension, also referred to as VA survivor benefits, is designed to provide benefits for surviving family members of a veteran. These veterans death benefits offer the surviving family tax-free income, just like with the veterans pension benefits. In order to get these VA survivor benefits, the surviving spouse must not have remarried, and any surviving children must not be married.
The veteran survivors pension's financial requirements are very similar to the financial requirements for the veterans pension. The survivor must compare his or her yearly income to an income maximum that is determined by Congress. If the yearly income is less than the number set by Congress, then the survivor will become eligible for veterans death benefits and can start collecting monthly payments. Just like with the veteran's pension, Congress will look at both the countable income as well as the net worth of the survivor to determine if he or she is eligible for veterans aid.
VA death benefits are separated into a few different categories, depending on which family members are trying to make the claim. Veterans death benefits categories can accommodate a spouse, a former spouse, a spouse or former spouse who has a child, a child only or a disabled dependent. It is also possible for the veteran survivors pension to apply to a nonfamily member who has insurable interest. Someone with insurable interest can be anyone who was close to the veteran and relied on the veteran for assistance with his or her living or financial needs. This type of veteran survivors pension is usually the hardest to claim, since it requires submitting much more evidence in order to prove the survivor meets all the eligibility requirements.