Veterans Pension

Veterans pension falls into the category of supplemental income. Military pension is more similar to Social Security benefits than to the pension received when someone is dismissed from a job.

Pensions are one type of retirement option to help retired military citizens live out their retirement with less financial worry. Veterans pension functions much like disability and Social Security payments as it is it need- and/ or age-based. Pension may also be available for the family of a deceased veteran if they qualify. Continue reading below to learn about veteran’s qualifications, benefits and the application process.

What is a pension?

You might be wondering “what is a pension?” Essentially, it is one retirement option. Pensions are offered by the government and some large corporations. Employees who take part in a pension plan have the employer contribute funds for the employee’s future benefit. Pension from employment is similar to military pension in the sense that the amounts received during retirement are based on years of service.

The Veterans Affairs Administration awards monthly tax-free payments to qualifying war-time veterans. The difference between veteran pensions and other types of pensions is that veteran pensions are not necessarily pre-planned by the veteran and army. However, army pension is protected by the pension benefit guaranty corporation (PBGC). This government organization ensures that funds allocated for pensions of any type are guaranteed to be distributed throughout the rest of the recipient’s life.

One thing that many individuals get confused is the difference between pension vs 401k. Unlike pension plans, 401k plans are not protected by the PBGC. 401k plans also require the recipient to contribute financially, unlike pension for veterans.

Eligibility for Military Retirement Pay

To be eligible for military retirement pay, veterans must qualify under military and need-based requirements. Need-based requirements mean that the veteran and his or her family is financially incapable of supporting themselves without aid. To qualify for pension, a household’s “countable” income must fall below federal limits depending on the household size and income. Their countable assets must also not fall into the category of “excessive.”

The veterans must also have been on duty during a period of war to qualify. The following are some wartime periods that a veteran may have served in, beginning with the earliest eligible war:

  • Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916 to April 5, 1917)
  • World War II (December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946)
  • Korean War (June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955)
  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990 to present)

Veterans are only required to serve during a wartime period for at least one day to qualify. However, they must have at least 90 days of active duty in total. Also, veterans who entered service after September 7, 1980 must:

  • Have at least 90 days of active service accumulated with one day during wartime, or
  • Be active for 24 months, or
  • Be active for the full period of their duty.

Other requirements for military retirement benefits include being at least 65 years of older and getting discharged for any reason other than dishonorable conditions. Veterans who are younger than 65 years of age might also qualify if they:

  • Have a non-service related total and permanent disability.
  • Are in a nursing home receiving care.
  • Receive Social Security disability benefits.
  • Receive Supplemental Security Income.

Aid and Attendance

Veterans who require aid and attendance (A&A) from another person or are housebound might be eligible from more pension benefits. This is because these applicants require extra expenses to be cared for, especially homebound individuals who are permanently disabled. However, only either the veteran or survivor can receive A&A at any one time. The following are potential qualifiers for A&A applicants:

  • The veteran requires another person to perform everyday functions like bathing, eating and dressing.
  • The veteran is bedridden due to a disability that requires him or her to stay in bed.
  • The veteran is a nursing home patient and is mentally or physically incapacitated.
  • The veteran has a limited eyesight of 5/200 or less in both eyes or has a concentric contraction of his or her visual field of 5 degrees or less.

Military Retirement Benefits

Military retirement benefits are awarded in the form of monthly tax-free payments. An individual veteran’s payments are determined by the information he or she provided in the application. The Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) calculates each contributing factor in the veteran’s specific circumstances. Factors that affect this amount are:

  • Dependents in the household.
  • Aid and attendance.
  • Spouses.
  • If the spouse is also a veteran or not.
  • If the veteran is housebound.

Pension Rates

Each MAPR category has a corresponding maximum income level. Below are examples of monthly pension amounts that a veteran can receive within his or category:

  • A veteran without a spouse or child can earn no more than $13,166 annually. This income can be higher if the veteran’s medical expenses exceed $659.
  • A veteran with one dependent can earn no more than $17,241 annually. Each additional child increases the income by $2,250.
  • A housebound veteran with no dependents can earn a maximum of $16,089 while a housebound veteran with one dependent can earn $20,166.
  • Two married veterans who both qualify for aid and attendance can earn $34,837.

Survivor Benefits

Veteran pension is reserved for wartime veterans, but the survivor benefits are also available under different applications. Survivors Pension may available to windows or widowers of veterans who have not remarried. Children of veterans may also qualify if they are unmarried. Veteran pension for widows and dependents is available only if the veteran is deceased and if the veteran would have qualified for veterans pension.

Application for Veterans Pension Benefits

The application for veterans pension benefits is available online for both veterans and survivors as is the application for additional pension such as for A&A. Completion of the application involves choosing the appropriate pension claim and compiling the required documents to submit for verification. There is no application fee. The army pension application can be completed online, in person or by mail. Help is available on online, in person at the nearest veteran’s affairs office or over the phone.

Documents

Like most applications, the applicants must submit documents to prove the information that they provided is accurate and not falsified. Applicants for veterans pension must submit proof of income and net worth, records of private medical treatments and medical and service-related military records.

It might also interest you: