source: RAO BULLETIN 1 March 2009
Thanks to Nick Sylvestri

If you are a wartime veteran with a limited income and you are no longer able to work, you may qualify for a Veterans Disability Pension or the Veterans Pension for Veterans 65 or older. Many veterans of wartime service are completely unaware of the fact that if they are 65 or older and on a limited income they may qualify for a VA Pension without being disabled. An estimated 2 million impoverished veterans and their widows are not receiving the VA pension they deserve because they do not know about it. The VA has had limited success in getting the information to them. Generally, you may be eligible if:

  • You were discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable, and
  • You served at least 90 days of active military service 1 day of which was during a war time period. If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty (There are exceptions to this rule), and
  • Your countable family income is below a yearly limit set by law (The yearly limit on income is set by Congress), and
  • You are age 65 or older, or, you are permanently and totally disabled, not due to your own willful misconduct.
With the advent of the Gulf War on 2 AUG 90 (and still not ended by Congress to this day), veterans can now serve after 2 AUG 90 during a period of war time. If your countable income appears to be near the maximum you should apply. VA will determine if you are eligible and notify you. If you do not initially qualify, you may reapply if you have un-reimbursed medical expenses during the twelve month period after VA receives your claim that brings your countable income below the yearly income limit (i.e. These are expense you have paid for medical services or products for which you will not be reimbursed by Medicare or private medical insurance). Countable income for eligibility purposes includes income received by the veteran and his or her dependents, if any, from most sources. It includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business. There is a presumption that all of a child's income is available to or for the veteran. VA may grant an exception to this in hardship cases.

     There is no set limit on how much net worth a veteran and his dependents can have, but net worth cannot be excessive. Net worth means the net value of the assets of the veteran and his or her dependents. It includes such assets as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and any property other than the veteran's residence and a reasonable lot area. The decision as to whether a claimant's net worth is excessive depends on the facts of each individual case. All net worth should be reported and VA will determine if a claimant's assets are sufficiently large that the claimant could live off these assets for a reasonable period of time. VA's needs-based programs are not intended to protect substantial assets or build up an estate for the benefit of heirs. The Maximum Annual Pension Rates (MAPR) effective 1 DEC 08 for both living and deceased veteran's surviving spouse/children cannot exceed the following:

  • Veteran or widow/er with no dependents $11,830 or $7,933.
  • Veteran with spouse and child or widow/er with a child $15,493 or $10,385.
  • Veterans or survivor with additional children: add $2,020 to the limit for each child.
  • Housebound veteran or widow/er with no dependents $14,457 or $9,696.
  • Housebound veteran or widow/er with one dependent $18,120 or $12,144.
  • Veteran or widow/er who needs aid and attendance and you have no dependents $19,736 or $12,681.
  • Veteran or widow/er who needs aid and attendance and you have one dependent $23,396 or $15,128.

     Some income is not counted toward the yearly limit (for example, welfare benefits, some wages earned by dependent children, and Supplemental Security Income). It's also important to note that your medical related expenses are considered when determining your yearly family income. VA pays you the difference between your countable family income and the yearly income limit which describes your situation. This difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly payments rounded down to the nearest dollar. You can apply by filling out VA Form 21-526, Veteran's Application for Compensation Or Pension. If available, attach copies of dependency records (marriage & children's birth certificates) and current medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports). You can also apply on line through the VONAPP website For More Information Call 1(800) 827-1000. [Source: 12 Feb 09 ++]