War era veterans who did not receive a dishonorable discharge may be eligible for a VA pension if they meet additional age, income, and asset requirements.

What is a VA pension?

A pension is a VA Benefit for war era veterans who served during an eligible wartime period. It is a tax-free monetary benefit for:

  • Low income veterans and spouses
  • Veterans and spouses who need long-term care

To be eligible, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least 1 day during the wartime periods established by Congress. 

Individuals serving on active duty after September 7, 1980, must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty (some exceptions apply), with at least 1 day during a wartime period.

The current wartime periods are:

World War ll – December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946

Korean Conflict – June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955

Vietnam Era | Early Years – February 28, 1961 to August 4, 1964 for individuals who served in the Republic of Vietnam, on the waterways or off the coast of Vietnam.

Vietnam Era | Later Years – August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975 for individuals who served in Vietnam or anywhere else in the world.

Gulf War – August 2, 1990 to a date to be determined in the future by law or presidential proclamation.

Additional Pension Requirements

In addition to wartime service, the veteran must have received anything other than a dishonorable discharge.

A military discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces is a release from service.  When a veteran exceeds performance and personal conduct standards with a good to excellent rating, he or she will be honorably discharged from service.

A person who did not meet some of the military’s conduct expectations, but whose performance was considered satisfactory, will receive a general (under honorable conditions) discharge.

Veterans receiving an “other than dishonorable” discharge, bad conduct discharge or dishonorable discharge may still be able to apply for the pension if their discharge status is upgraded or corrected.

The process for upgrading a discharge status involves a Character of Discharge review.

Certain cases are considered more likely to result in an upgrade if the veteran can show the discharge was the result of:

  • A mental health condition like PTSD
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Sexual assault or harassment that took place during military service
  • Sexual orientation

In addition to being discharged from service with honorable or other than dishonorable conditions, and serving 90 days of active duty with at least one day during a wartime period, the veteran must be:

  • 65 years of age or older, or
  • have a permanent and total disability, or
  • a patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability, or
  • getting Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.

The veteran (or spouse) must also meet specific income and asset requirements.

Veterans and Survivors Pension

The Veterans and Survivors Pension is a monthly monetary benefit for low income veterans and their surviving spouses. The benefit is tax-free.

The maximum benefit amount for a veteran with no dependents is $1,146 per month. If the veteran has at least one dependent spouse or child, the maximum benefit amount is approximately $1,500 per month.

Aid and Attendance Pension Supplements

Aid and Attendance is an enhanced pension for veterans and spouses who need long-term care, either at home or in a care facility like board and care (residential care), assisted living and skilled nursing. Home care can be provided by a family member, friend, or professional caregiver.

The benefit is a reimbursement for care that pays up to the following maximum benefit amounts:

  • Single Veteran                  $1,911 per month            ($22,939 per year)
  • Married Veteran              $2,266 per month            ($27,195 per year)
  • Two Married Veterans  $3,032 per month            ($36,387 per year)
  • Surviving Spouse              $1,228 per month            ($14,742 per year)

In addition to having served during an eligible wartime period and meeting the VA’s discharge status requirements, the veteran (or spouse) must be at a point in their life where they need help with some of the activities of daily living (ADLs). The five types of daily living activities recognized by the VA are mobility, bathing, dressing, toileting and feeding.

Transferring, also referred to as mobility, is movement from one place to another. It typically means needing help getting in and out of a bed or chair but can also include help up and down stairs or in and out of a vehicle.

Dressing is the individual’s ability to dress themselves, including buttoning, zippering, and tying laces, but can also include reminders to dress, help picking out clothes or getting clothes out of the closet.

Bathing is any assistance needed getting in and out of a tub or shower, adjusting shower heads or changing water temperature and washing.

Eating refers to feeding someone. It does not include meal preparation. Ensuring a person is eating nutritiously may also apply depending on the situation.

Toileting includes getting to the toilet, cleaning oneself or getting up from the toilet. Also, any help incontinence.

More About War Era Veteran Spouses

The surviving spouse of a veteran is someone who was married to the veteran at the time of his or her passing and never remarried. There is only on exception to this rule, the spouse of a deceased veteran remarried and divorced the second spouse, – or the second spouse passed away- between January 1st, 1971 and November 1st,1990 and never married again.

The spouse must also have been married to the veteran for at least a year.

When determining whether or not to accept a marriage, the VA applies state law. For example, in a common law marriage, if the state where the veteran resides recognizes common law marriages, the VA will recognize the marriage as well.

Did you serve during a war-time period and need help with personal care? Are you moving to a care facility? Contact one of our Benefit Consultants today at 877-427-8065 to learn more about the VA Aid and Attendance benefit and how it can help pay for the care that you need.

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