Frequently asked questions
What are the Qualified War Periods?
QUALIFIED WAR PERIODS
WWII: 12-07-1941 through 12-31-1946, Inclusive (If in service on 12-31-1946 with continuous service before 07-26-1947, this is acceptable as war time.)
KOREAN WAR: 06-27-1950 through 01-31-1955, Inclusive
VIETNAM WAR: “Feet on the ground” in Vietnam from 02-28-1961 through 08-05-1964. Starting 08-06-1964 through 05-07-1975 you did not have to physically be “in country” to qualify.
Gulf War: 08-02-1990 through (date to be determined)
What amount of time must have been served during these war times?
A Veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day during a war time period to qualify for a VA Pension.
If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions, such as the Vietnam War), with at least one day during a wartime period.
Reserve time does not qualify for pension unless the reservist was activated to active service for a period of 90 days or more during one of the qualified war periods.Training during Reserves does not count.
What type of Service Discharge is needed to qualify for a VA pension?
The Veteran must have a general or better discharge. Dishonorable discharges do not qualify for pension.
Is my spouse allowed benefits upon my death?
Yes, however, if a spouse remarries after the death of the qualified Veteran, the spouse is no longer qualified for pension under that original Veteran. The remarried spouse must qualify under the new Veteran's described qualification periods including a general or better discharge, and must wait at least one year before the Veteran's death in order to qualify as a surviving spouse.
If there is a divorce, the wife no longer qualifies for the VA Pension, regardless of how long she might have been married to the qualified Veteran.
Does serving in a war time or war zone mean participating in actual combat?
No, the veteran did not have to physically serve in the war zone; they just needed to serve during the time period
Can you receive a pension and not have served in the armed forces?
Yes, by serving in one of the special groups that worked with the military, such as Merchant Marines.
How is the amount of pension determined?
Pension is based on your yearly family income, which must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify. This limit is subject to change by Congress. It varies based on having a spouse and additional dependents, whether one is Housebound and/or in need of Aid and Attendance.
Countable income is how much you earn, including your salary, investment and retirement payments, and any income you may have from your dependents.
Important note: Some expenses, like non-reimbursable medical expenses (paid medical expenses not covered by your insurance provider), may reduce your countable income. This can include assisted living and nursing home facilities costs.
What are the three types of pension?
There are three types of pensions which the veteran may apply for:
Improved Pension- Just need to be 65 or older; a tax-free benefit payabe to veterans and surviving spouses who meet eligibility requirements.
Housebound- Housebound means that you can do for yourself within the confines of your home or facility, but others may have to go to the grocery for you and take you to doctor appointments as you no longer drive.
Aid and Attendance-Veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting the veteran from the hazards of the daily environment
Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) are determined by three tests:
Medical Test- If the veteran is younger than age 65, he or she must be totally disabled to receive Pension. Medical evidence must be submitted for these types of applications. At age 65 and older there is no requirement for disability.
The Income Test- The household income of the veteran or the surviving spouse cannot exceed the MAPR for that category of application.
The Asset Test- As a general rule household assets cannot exceed $80,000. But there is no specific test in the regulations. Veterans Service Representatives in the regional office are required to file paperwork justifying their decision if they allow assets greater than $80,000. Thus this amount has become a traditional ceiling. In the end, the decision as to allowable assets is a subjective decision made by a service representative. A personal residence, a reasonable amount of land on which it sits, personal property and automobiles for personal use are exempted from the asset test.
How much do the pensions affect your income?
What if I have too much money according to the VA?
The cardinal rule:
medical expenses are greater than the monthly income. However, the medical expenses and monthly income even assets can be adjusted in a variety of ways. When you attempt to file for VA Pension yourself, the answer most of the time is "you make too much money, sorry." Although helpful in filling out VA forms, they will not show you how to legally adjust your application to show that you are in compliance with the cardinal rule.
That's why you need Swain Law Firm. Our team has the expertise and the dedication to veterans to go after what every veteran deserves and has earned. Why the dedication? Because our attorney Jim Swain is a Navy veteran and Commander of our local VFW. He believes in veterans helping veterans.