Veterans Pension Planning

Wartime Veterans Pension

The Veterans Administration has a program for wartime veterans with a non service connected disability to guarantee a minimum income for veterans who qualify. If a veteran is over 64 years of age or is permanently or totally disabled for a reason or reasons that are unrelated to their military service and their income is below certain threshold they may be eligible to receive this pension benefit.

There are 3 levels of benefit, Basic, Housebound, and Aid & Attendance.

Here is a chart explaining the 2016 maximum monthly benefits:

BenefitsVeteran (single)Vet + SpouseWidow
Basic1,0721,404719
Homebound1,3101,642879
Aid & Attend.1,7882,1201,149
Wartime Veterans Pension Qualifications

The qualifying factors are:

  • Wartime service (1 day of active duty)
  • Total service (at least 90 days of active duty)
  • 65 or older or totally and permanently disabled
  • Countable income under the benefit amount
  • Assets within certain limits (this is not exact, but generally $30,000 to $40,000 for a single person and $40,000 to $50,000 for a couple)

In addition to the Wartime Veterans Pension a veteran may qualify for a supplement known as Aid and Attendance or a Housebound supplement. The veteran must need daily assistance with everyday living tasks or that they are substantially confined to their home to qualify for the small additional income provided by these supplements. They are paid in addition to the basic pension.

A veteran can only be eligible for either Aid and Attendance or Housebound, not both.

Service and Age (or Disability)

The veterans character of discharge from the service must be under conditions other than dishonorable. The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service. At least one day of that service period must be during a war time period. If the period of active duty is after September 7, 1980, most cases will require the veteran have served at least 24 months or the entire term of his or her obligation. Finally, there is a yearly limit on income that is set by Congress, and the veteran’s countable income must be below the limit AND the veteran is 65 or older, OR, the veteran, not due to his/her own willful misconduct, is permanently and totally disabled.

The wartime periods recognized by congress are:

  • WWII – 12/7/1941 to 7/25/47
  • Korea – 6/27/1950 to 1/31/55
  • Vietnam – 8/5/1964 to 5/7/75
  • Gulf – 8/2/1990 to Present
Determining Countable Income

Countable Income is a is not a straight forward calculation. Most sources of income that a veteran receives are likely included in the calculation of the pension. Retirement income, disability payments, rental income, dividends and interest from investments, etc. are examples of what is considered countable income. Any sort of public assistance is an example of uncountable income.

The total amount of countable income is then offset with unreimbursable medical expenses and educational expenses. There are other types of income that may also be deductible so if you have a cocktail napkin calculation that gets you in the neighborhood of the benefits you should apply for the pension.

Criteria for Eligibility for the Wartime Veterans Pension

The veterans character of discharge from the service must be under conditions other than dishonorable. The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service. At least one day of that service period must be during a war time period. If the period of active duty is after September 7, 1980, most cases will require the veteran have served at least 24 months. Finally, there is a yearly limit on income that is set by Congress, and the veteran's countable income must be below the limit AND the veteran is over age 64, OR, the veteran, not due to his/her own willful misconduct, is permanently and totally disabled,

Determining Countable Income

Income for VA purposes is all income minus unreimbursed regularly recurring medical expenses. Most sources of income that a veteran receives are included in the calculation of the pension. Retirement income, disability payments, rental income, dividends and interest from investments, etc. are examples of what is considered countable income.

The total amount of income is then offset with unreimbursed medical expenses. These are usually medical expenses that Medicare and health insurance will not pay for, like nursing or assisted living costs. Also, the cost of medical insurance premiums are counted.

If the calculation is below the benefit amount in the chart above, the veteran or widow will receive a monthly pension equal to the amount that will bring them up to the benefit amount. If the income calculation is zero or below (medical expenses are greater than income), then the maximum benefit will be paid to the veteran or widow.

To Determine Aid and Attendance Eligibility

First the veteran must be eligible for a Pension, and then one or more of the following:

  • The veteran must require the aid in performing personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself/herself from the hazards of his/her daily environment, provided by another person.

  • The veteran may be bedridden, meaning that the disabilities require the veteran remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment.

  • If the veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to incapacity, either mental or physical.

  • The veteran is blind, or has corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less, in both eyes, or the visual field has contracted to 5 degrees or less.

Wartime Veterans Pension and Housebound Eligibility

Again the veteran must be eligible for a Pension, and:

The veteran has a 100-percent disability rating and is substantially confined to his/her immediate premises because of the disability, or the veteran has a single permanent disability evaluated as 100-percent disabling and another disability/disabilities, evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.

The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Nursing Home Expense Planning, and Veterans Pension Planning. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.

Contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 to schedule a free strategy session.