2017 VETERANS PENSION BENEFITS FOR
NON-SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITIES
Ronald A Fatoullah, of RONALD FATOULLAH & ASSOCIATES
Great Neck, New York.
The Veterans Administration (VA) Pension is a disability benefits program available to compensate veterans for non-service-connected disabilities. Like the VA compensation program, the pension program is based upon disability; however, unlike the VA compensation program, the pension program is also based on income and need, and the veteran’s disability must be total and permanent (but need not be “service-connected”).
There are three types of benefits available through the VA pension program: (1) the basic pension, (2) “Housebound” (HB) benefits and (3) “Aid and Attendance” (A&A) benefits.
The basic pension is a benefit paid to wartime veterans who have limited or no income. To qualify, the veteran must be discharged under other than dishonorable conditions; must have wartime service (in general, for those entering military service before September 7, 1980, consisting of at least 90 days of active service, one day of which was during a war-time period); must have limited or no income; and must be age 65 or older, or be permanently and totally disabled.
With respect to income eligibility, the vet’s countable family income must be below a yearly limit set by Congress (see below). The veteran’s net worth, or the net value of the assets of the veteran and his/her dependents, is also considered by the VA, and although there is no specified resource limit, net worth cannot be “excessive.” In addition to the basic pension, more severely disabled veterans may also qualify for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits.
Housebound benefits are paid in addition to the monthly pension for a veteran (or eligible surviving spouse) who qualifies for the pension and who has a total permanent disability and, as a result, is permanently and substantially confined to his/her premises; OR has a total permanent disability plus another disability or disabilities that are 60% or more disabling.
Aid and Attendance (“A&A”) is an increased monthly pension amount. A&A is available to a veteran (or eligible surviving spouse) who qualifies for the pension and who is bedridden, or requires the aid of another person to perform activities of daily living, or is a nursing home resident, as a result of mental or physical incapacity, or is blind or nearly blind in both eyes.
The 2017 Veterans Pension rates saw a 0.3% increase over 2016. The increase was effective December 1, 2016.
The VA pays the difference between countable family income and the yearly income limit based on the veteran’s marital status, family situation and number of dependents. This difference is generally paid in 12 equal monthly payments rounded down to the nearest dollar.
In order to receive benefits if you are a veteran, your annual income must be less than the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR). The MAPR is the maximum amount of pension payable to a veteran, surviving spouse or child. When calculating annual income, medical expenses may be deducted if they exceed 5% of the current $12,907 MAPR for a single with no dependent ($645) or the $16,902 MAPR for a veteran with one dependent ($845).
To determine your pension amount, deduct your annual income and medical expenses from the MAPR. MAPR depends upon whether the veteran or surviving spouse has dependents, how many dependents, whether the veteran or spouse are in need of Housebound benefits, whether they are in need of Aid & Attendance or whether the veteran served during the Mexican Border Period or World War One.
As mentioned above, the MAPR for a single person with no dependent is $12,907 per year and $16,902 for an individual with one dependent. For a housebound individual without dependents, the MAPR is $15,773. For a housebound individual with one dependent, it is $19,770. For A&A the MAPR is $21,531 without dependents and $25,525 with one dependent. Two married veterans with no dependents must have income of less than $16,902 and if one of the veterans is housebound, the number is $19,770. Two veterans married to each other must have a total income of less than $22,634. For two veterans who are married where one has A&A, the number jumps to $25,525. For, two veterans who are married where one has A&A and the other one HB, the maximum income level is $28,385. For two married veterans requiring A&A, the MAPR is $34,153. For Mexican Border period or World War One veterans, add $2,932 to the MAPR and add $2,205 to the MAPR for each additional child.
For example, John is a single veteran with an annual income of $5,000 and no deductible medical expenses. The MAPR for a single person is $12,907. To determine John’s pension, subtract his annual income of $5,000 from the $12,907 income limit, which gives him an annual pension rate of $7,907 ($659 monthly).
By way of a further example, Mary is a Vietnam era veteran with a veteran spouse and one child and she is entitled to Aid & Attendance. The MAPR is $25,525 plus $2,205 or $27,730. She can deduct medical expenses that exceed $845. If Mary and her spouse have $10,350 of income and deductible expenses of $3,588, they can deduct $2,743 ($3,588-$845) from income to arrive at $7,607 annual countable income. After subtracting annual income from the MAPR, they will receive $20,123 annually ($1,676.91 per month).
Elder Law attorney, Ronald Fatoullah has been a member of the Wellness Village since December 2011. To get more information about him and his law firm, visit the Ronald Fatoullah page under Elder Law.