The Veterans Administration offers two disability programs for eligible veterans. The first benefit is disability compensation which is only available for veterans with service-connected disabilities. The second program provides a disability pension benefit which is available to anyone who served during wartime and has a disability. For this pension benefit, the disability does not have to be related to military service.
Disability Compensation Benefit:
If you have an injury or disease that happened while on active duty or if active duty made an existing injury or disease worse, you may be eligible for disability compensation. The amount of compensation you get depends on how disabled you are and whether you have children or other dependents. Additional funds may be available if you have severe disabilities, such as loss of limbs, or a seriously disabled spouse.
Disability Pension Benefit:
The VA pays a pension to disabled veterans who are not able to work. The pension is also available for surviving spouses and children. This pension is available whether or not your disability is service-connected, but to be eligible you must meet the following requirements:
1. You must not have been discharged under dishonorable conditions;
2. If you enlisted before September 7, 1980, you must have served 90 days or more of active duty with at least one day during a period of war. Anyone who enlisted after September 7, 1980, however, must serve at least 24 months or the full period for which that person was called to serve;
3. You must be permanently and totally disabled, or age 65 or older. You will need a letter from your doctor to prove that you are disabled; and
4. In addition, your income must be below the yearly limit set by law; called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR).
The MAPR for 2017 is as follows:
Veteran with no dependents – $12,907
Veteran with a spouse or a child – $16,902
Housebound veteran with no dependents – $15,773
Housebound veteran with one dependent – $19,770
Additional children – $2,205 for each child
The pension you may qualify for depends on your income. The VA pays the difference between your income and the MAPR. The pension is usually paid in 12 equal payments. For example, if John is a single veteran and has a yearly income of $7,387. His pension benefit would be $5,520 (12,907 – 7,387). Therefore, he would get $460 a month. Your income does not include welfare benefits or Supplemental Security Income. It also does not include unreimbursed medical expenses actually paid by the veteran or a member of his or her family.
Aid and Attendance:
A veteran who needs the help of an attendant may qualify for additional help on top of the disability pension benefit. The veteran needs to show that he or she needs the help of an attendant on a regular basis. A veteran who lives in an assisted living facility is presumed to need aid and attendance. A veteran who meets these requirements will get the difference between his or her income and the MAPR below (in 2017 figures):
Veteran who needs aid and attendance with no dependents – $21,531
Veteran who needs aid and attendance with one dependent – $25,525
If you think that you may qualify for Veteran’s Benefits and are considering applying, please contact the experienced attorneys at Zacharia Brown. You may schedule an appointment by visiting our website at PittsburghElderLaw.com or by calling 724.942.6200.