Non-service connected pension is a benefit that provides financial support to wartime veterans with limited income. In order to be eligible, a veteran had to have been discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions and had to have served 90 days or more on active duty with at least one day during a period of war. Income for this pension is defined as household income from all sources including but not limited to, wages, other pensions, social security, interest and dividends. Monthly payments are made by the VA to bring total household annual income to an established support level. Annual rates for 2012 are:
• Veteran alone: $12,256
• Veteran with one dependent: $16,051
• Each additional dependent child: $2,093
Note: There is a higher rate paid for veterans who are deemed by the VA to be housebound or in need of regular aid and attendance.
The VA will adjust income by annual household medical expenses that can be reasonably assumed to recur each month at the same rate such as Medicare, supplemental health insurance premiums and home health care costs. Doctor and medication co-pays are not normally accepted as a recurring monthly medical expense since they normally vary from month to month.
Assets are also considered by the VA when determining whether or not a veteran is eligible for this benefit. Assets have to be under a certain amount, generally $80,000, but there are exceptions to that amount. For example, if a veteran has assets of $90,000 and is in a nursing home paying $5,000 per month, $90,000 in assets would deplete quickly. That could be an exception to the $80,000 rule. A primary residence does not count as an asset as long as the veteran is living in it.
Additionally, the following applies:
– For veterans under the age of 65: Must be deemed permanently and totally disabled. This means a veteran must meet one of the following:
• Suffers from any disability which is sufficient to render it impossible for the average person to follow a substantially gainful occupation but only if it is reasonably certain the disability will continue throughout the life of the veteran.
• Is a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability.
• Is disabled as determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for the purpose of benefits administered by the SSA. In other words, if the SSA deems a veteran disabled, the VA automatically will.
For veterans 65 and older: These veterans do not have to be deemed permanently and totally disabled, they just to have a countable family income below the yearly limit set by law.
Tammy Walters is available at (715) 369-6127, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.