Eligibility requirements for VA pension benefits

When a person has an elderly, low-income veteran parent who needs additional financial assistance beyond what he or she currently receives in income, retirement benefits, social security disability insurance or supplemental security income, it may be worth that person’s while to look into VA pension benefits. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, Veterans Pension is a tax-free benefit available to low-income wartime vets. How much assistance a veteran living in Florida would receive depends solely on his or her countable income.

The eligibility requirements for VA pension benefits are fairly strict. For veterans who entered the service before September 7, 1980, they must have at least 90 days of active duty service under their belts. One of those days must have been during a period of wartime. For individuals who entered the service after September of 1980, they must have served for at least 24 months or the full period for which they were called or ordered to active duty, with at least one day of service during a wartime period.

If a veteran meets the service requirements, he or she must then meet additional requirements. Per the VA’s website, a veteran may qualify for Veterans Pension if he or she is at least one of the following:

  • 65 years of age or older
  • Completely or partially disabled
  • Receiving SSDI
  • Receiving SSI
  • Living as a patient in a nursing home

In addition to the above requirements, an applying veteran’s household family income must be less than the amount set by Congress. The limits are extremely low. Per Paying for Senior Care, a veteran with no dependents must make less than $13,537. If that veteran is housebound, the limit is slightly higher, at $16,540. If the veteran requires aid or assistance, the limit caps off at $22,577. For a veteran with a spouse or child, the income limits are $13,537, $17,724 and $26,765 respectively.

It is important to bear in mind that the VA only considers “countable income.” Veterans can deduct uncovered medical expenses, home care costs, prescriptions, insurance premiums and the like to reduce their countable income. This may help higher earning veterans who have extensive medical bills qualify for VA pension benefits.