New and important information has just been disseminated by the VA regarding non-service connected pension (a veteran’s benefit) and death pension (a surviving spouse’s benefit). This information does not apply to veterans who are receiving service-connected compensation.
Veterans and surviving spouses receiving a VA pension normally receive an Eligibility Verification Report (EVR) at the end of the year. This form is sent out by the VA in late December each year requiring the pension recipient to update the VA with their current income, asset and medical expense information. The form is identifiable by the color; it isn’t on white paper like most of their correspondence is. In order for the VA to determine if the veteran/surviving spouse continues to meet the eligibility requirements for pension, the form must be filled out and returned by March 1 of the following year. Effective immediately, the VA has decided they will no longer be sending out EVRs. They feel it’s more important to catch up on the backlog of pension applications they have in the system. This is a win/win for both the people on a pension and the people who have filed a claim for a pension. Pension recipients will soon be receiving a letter from the VA regarding the elimination of the EVR.
With that being said, it’s very important to know that if you are on a VA pension and your income changes, you must notify the VA immediately so your pension can be adjusted since it is an income-based program. This does not include Social Security income because the VA works with the Social Security Administration to get updated income information so they know if those benefits change. If you are receiving income from another source and that amount increases or decreases, you must notify the VA. Or if you receive an unusual sum of money from another source, i.e., lottery, gambling winnings, inheritance, etc., you must notify the VA. That is considered income and the VA must decrease your pension. An unusual sum of money is only income for the first year. After that, it’s considered an asset.
Additionally, you can and should notify the VA of the medical expenses you paid out-of-pocket in the past year. They adjust your gross income by your medical expenses so the more medical expenses you pay, the lower your adjusted income is and the higher your VA pension benefit will be.
Lastly, my assistant, Dani Lundberg, and I wish you a happy and healthy New Year. It’s an honor and a privilege serving the veterans and family members of Oneida County and we both feel blessed to be doing what we do. Thank you all for your friendship and support!
Tammy Walters is available at (715) 369-6127 or firstname.lastname@example.org.