As elder law attorneys, we have a thorough understanding of government benefits for seniors, and this includes veterans.
Most people have heard of the veterans retirement pension that service members can receive after 20 years of service. The amount that you would receive will increase if you stay in the service for longer periods of time.
This is a great benefit that gives veterans the opportunity to retire in comfort. Retirees will receive a pension and a Social Security benefit, and many military service members contribute into the Thrift Savings Plan. This is the federal government’s version of a 401(k) plan.
In addition to this retirement pension, there is another benefit that is simply called the Veterans Pension. This pension can make a difference in the lives of wartime veterans, and we will explain the details in this post, including the cost of living adjustment for 2021.
Veterans Pension Eligibility Requirements
Most pensions of any kind come as a reward for long years of service, but this Veterans Pension is in a different category. The minimum requirement for veterans that began their stint before September 8, 1980 is 90 days of total service with at least one day of wartime service.
For people that started after this date, the requirement is at least 24 months with a single day of service when the country was at war. This benefit is only available to veterans that did not receive dishonorable discharges.
Veterans that meet the length of service requirement that are at least 65 years old qualify for the benefit, and veterans of any age that are permanently and totally disabled are eligible.
This pension is intended for veterans with some modicum of financial need, so there is an asset limit. Traditionally, decisions were made on a case-by-case basis, and there was no hard dollar amount.
In October of 2018, this changed when a legislative measure was enacted. There is now an asset limit that is tied to the Medicaid Community Spouse Resource Allowance. This is the amount that a healthy spouse can retain when their spouse is using Medicaid to pay for nursing home care.
The net worth limit for the Veterans Pension in 2020 has been $129,094, which is close to the Community Spouse Resource Allowance. It will presumably go up in 2021, but the Veterans Administration has not published that information at the time of this writing.
One motor vehicle is not counted, and a home is not considered to be a countable asset. The evaluators will not take personal effects and household belongings into consideration.
Another change that was included in the legislation that set a hard net worth limit was a three-year look back. Veterans can potentially divest themselves of assets in an effort to qualify for this benefit, but the divestitures must be completed at least three years before the application is submitted.
Potential Monthly Benefits
In addition to the standard Veterans Pension, there is also an Aid and Attendance designation for veterans that need help with their activities of daily living, and there is a Housebound benefit.
For the rest of this year, the maximum monthly benefit for a single veteran that qualifies for the standard pension is $13,752. This figure, and the rest of the 2020 numbers that we will share, will be increased by 1.3 percent in 2021.
A veteran that qualifies for the Aid and Attendance version can receive as much as $22,939 in 2020, and maximum Housebound benefit is $16,805.
It should be noted that the 1.3 percent increase is derived from the Social Security cost-of-living Adjustment (COLA).
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