Who is Eligible for a Veterans Pension?
Who is Eligible for a Veterans Pension?
The Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Pension program is a benefit that is unrelated to military retirement pay.
The VA Veteran Pension program offers VA payments to “wartime Veterans who meet certain age or disability requirements, and who have income and net worth within certain limits,” according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
You may generally qualify if you are at least 65 or have a permanent disability. Those receiving long-term nursing home care or getting Social Security may also qualify if they meet the other guidelines (see below.)
Veterans may qualify for a VA Veterans Pension if they do not have a Dishonorable discharge and their annual household income and net worth meet Congressional limits. Other criteria apply. At least one of the following must apply:
- You started on active duty before September 8, 1980, and you served at least 90 days on active duty (1 day or more during wartime)
- You enlisted after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called (at least 1 day during wartime)
- You were an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, and you hadn’t previously served on active duty for at least 24 months
Federal law lists the applicable wartime periods that may qualify you for a Veterans Pension:
- Mexican Border period (May 9, 1916, to April 5, 1917)
- World War I (April 6, 1917, to November 11, 1918)
- World War II (December 7, 1941, to December 31, 1946)
- Korean Conflict (June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955)
- Vietnam War era (November 1, 1955, to May 7, 1975,
- August 5, 1964, to May 7, 1975, for Veterans who served outside the Republic of Vietnam.)
- Gulf War (August 2, 1990, to a date TBD)
Related: How to File for a VA Disability Increase
How the VA Calculates Veterans Pension Payments
If you can receive a Veterans Pension, the Department of Veterans Affairs sets your payment amount based on the difference between “your countable income and a limit that Congress sets (the Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR).”
To calculate your VA Pension, countable income is defined as “how much you earn, including your Social Security benefits, investment and retirement payments, and any income your dependents receive.”
Disabled veterans and other applicants should know their countable income and their household income totals before applying. VA.gov notes the types of countable income may include retirement pay, annuities, and income such as:
- Hourly pay
Certain costs may lower your countable income in the eyes of the federal government, such as non-reimbursable medical expenses.
Don’t neglect making notes of these expenses, as they could make the difference in some cases when it comes to qualifying for the benefit under the household income cap.
The VA bases your maximum payment amount on how many dependents you may have, whether you are married, and whether that marriage includes another person who might be eligible for a VA Veterans Pension.
There is also a consideration for whether you qualify for VA Aid & Attendance benefits.
The VA calculates your assets, too. You will be assessed on “the fair market value of all your real and personal property, minus the amount of any mortgages you may have.” In the eyes of the VA, personal property assets include any of these items:
Your assets do NOT, for the purposes of calculating the benefit, do NOT include:
- Your house
- Appliances and other items you would not pack and ship to a new house
The Department of Veterans Affairs official site offers the following example to help you better understand how a Veterans Pension is calculated:
- Veteran with a dependent, non-Veteran spouse and no children. The veteran qualifies for Aid & Attendance, and the household income is calculated at $10,000 for the year.
- Your Maximum Annual Pension Rate amount = $31,714
- Your yearly income = $10,000
- Your VA pension = $21,714 for the year (or $1,809 paid each month)
This was calculated under the net worth limit applicable until November 30, 2023, which is capped at $150,538. The net worth cap may change from year to year; these numbers are listed as examples only. Check the current VA cap at VA.gov.
VA Veterans Pension Payment Amounts
How much will you get paid if approved for a VA Veterans Pension? Much depends on your family status as a single person, single or married parent, etc. The rates below were posted by the federal government for 2023.
These numbers are for reference only; they are always subject to change due to changes in policy, federal law, funding, etc. To learn the Veterans Pension payment amounts for a different year, look them up at the VA official site, VA.gov.
Veterans Pension Amounts: Veterans With No Dependents
Your maximum Veteran Pension payment rate may vary depending on circumstances:
- No dependents, and you do not qualify for VA Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits: $16,037
- No dependents, and you DO qualify for Aid & Attendance: $26,752
- No dependents, and you qualify for VA Housebound benefits: $19,598
VA Veterans Pension Amounts: With Dependents
- With at least one dependent and you do NOT qualify for VA Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits: $21,001
- With dependents and you DO qualify for Aid & Attendance: $31,714
- With dependents and you qualify for VA Housebound benefits: $24,562
- If you have more than one dependent, add $2,743 to your maximum pension amount for each additional dependent.
VA Veterans Pension: Two Married Veterans
- Neither qualifies for Housebound/Aid Attendance: $21,001
- One spouse qualifies for Aid & Attendance: $31,714
- Both qualify for Aid & Attendance: $42,433
- One spouse qualifies for Housebound benefits: $24,562
- Both qualify for Housebound: $28,121
- One qualifies for Housebound benefits; one qualifies for Aid and Attendance: benefits $35,266
Related: VA Aid & Attendance and Housebound Benefits
Some may need to apply for this VA benefit but don’t have all their information ready yet. Did you know you can send the VA an “intent to file” that establishes the date of that notification as your award date for any future claims paid retroactively?
An intent to file does not require you to submit a completed application for the benefits you need, but it does reserve your place in line, so to speak, for when it’s time to honor the date of your VA claim.
You can apply for Veterans Pension benefits online now.
About the author
Joe Wallace is a 13-year veteran of the United States Air Force and a former reporter/editor for Air Force Television News and the Pentagon Channel. His freelance work includes contract work for Motorola, VALoans.com, and Credit Karma. He is co-founder of Dim Art House in Springfield, Illinois, and spends his non-writing time as an abstract painter, independent publisher, and occasional filmmaker.