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The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers pension benefits to qualifying wartime veterans and surviving spouses.
Unlike compensation benefits, which are for conditions caused by or aggravated by military service, pension benefits are available to meet non-service related needs. As a result income, net worth, and other considerations are taken into account when determining eligibility. Disability pension (vet) and death pension (dependent) are available at three levels.
Basic pension for a veteran requires an inability to work, but only for applicants under age 65. VA presumes disability for those who have reached this age. A surviving spouse need only meet the financial and basic eligibility requirements, employability is not considered.
The second level is for those who are housebound. A doctor must verify that the applicant is unable to substantively get to appointments, grocery shop, or take care of other matters outside the home without assistance. A monthly housebound pension normally represents a higher monthly maximum payment.
The highest level of pension is also the most common. Aid and attendance represents a situation in which the claimant requires assistance in performing normal tasks called the activities of daily living (ADLs). As with housebound, a doctor must verify that there is a need. Additionally, with the exception of those who are blind, a claimant must show that they are receiving assistance in performing their ADLs.
In considering income for any pension, VA will use unreimbursed medical expenses to offset income. Aid and attendance has the highest potential monthly payment, thus those in a personal care or nursing home are often eligible for the maximum allowable benefit because costs exceed their monthly income.
Veterans in receipt of a VA pension are eligible for VA healthcare without co-pay
If you have questions about, or need assistance in applying for VA pension, call the Westmoreland County Department of Veterans Affairs at (724) 830 -3531.