Improved pension benefits for wartime veterans

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By Donald Mustard

    Pension is available for wartime veterans, who are permanently and totally disabled from disabilities not related with service.  The monthly rate is increased if the veteran is married or has dependent children.

    Veterans with low incomes, who are permanently and totally disabled or are age 65 and older, may be eligible for monetary support if they have 90 days or more of active military service, at least one day of which was during a period of war.  (Veterans who entered active duty on or after September 8, 1980, or officers who entered active duty on or after October 16, 1981, may have to meet a longer minimum period of active duty).
    The veteran’s discharge must have been under conditions other than dishonorable, and the disability must be for reasons other than the veteran’s own willful misconduct.  They must be permanently and totally disabled for reasons not traceable to military service or willful misconduct.
    In general, a veteran is considered permanently and totally disabled when such disabilities render it impossible for the average person to follow a substantial gainful occupation, and it is reasonably certain that such condition will continue throughout the life of the disabled veteran.  Medical documentation f the disability is required.
    Payments are made by VA to qualified veterans bringing their total income, including other retirement or Social Security income, to an established level.  Countable income may be reduced by the amount of unreimbursed medical expenses paid for the veteran’s health care or for his dependents. Pension is not payable to those veterans who have sufficient assets to support a comfortable and safe lifestyle.
    Current claims are submitted under the Improved Pension Program, although some veterans are still enrolled in similar programs known by other names that were in effect in the past.  Effective December 1, 2008, the Improved Pension Program provides the following annual rates which are payable monthly.
    Veteran without dependent spouse or child: $11,830
    Veteran with one dependent (spouse or child): $15,493
    Veteran in need of regular Aid & Attendance: no dependents: $19,736
    Veteran in need of Aid & Attendance with one dependent: $23,396
    Veteran permanently housebound without dependents: $14,457
    Veteran permanently housebound with one dependent: $18,120
    The amount of pension is increased by $2,020 for each additional dependent child.
    If you are in one of the above categories and your income is less than the amount listed for that category and, you are otherwise qualified you may be eligible for benefits under this program.
    Congress establishes the maximum annual improved disability pension rates.  Payments are reduced by the amount of countable income of the veteran, spouse or dependent children.
    When VA provides nursing home care to a veteran without a spouse or child the pension is reduced to an amount not to exceed $90.00 per month after three calendar months of care.
    Next month this column will address the subject of nursing home care for the veteran.

    This column provides only general information concerning VA benefits.  If you have questions about veteran’s benefits contact Don Mustard, the Service Officer for DAV Chapter 8, VFW Post 8184, and American Legion Post 16 at 434-401-7335.  The office is in the American Legion Post 16, 1301 Greenview Drive, Lynchburg, VA and is open for walk-ins on Tuesday 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. and Thursday by appointment.
    The sources for this article were applicable 2008 rate tables; as of 2011 they remain unchanged, current editions of appropriate service officer manuals and, the 2010 edition of the booklet titled Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents.