Veterans Financial Services

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers VA disability benefits and pension compensation to veterans who are eligible for these programs.

Veterans who have served in the armed forces and are currently living with disabilities or on low incomes should review the programs available through the department to determine if they meet these eligibility requirements. The VA pension program assists veterans who are financially struggling after serving in the armed forces and transitioning back to civilian life.

After learning about VA disability benefits eligibility, veterans can apply for program benefits to receive monthly monetary compensation. However, to successfully receive this compensation, a veteran must thoroughly complete the application process and provide the evidence and identification documents, as requested by the VA. This important documentation may include proof of a physical or mental disability and proof of the relationship to this disability to military service. A veteran may also be required to provide proof of financial difficulties. To complete a VA pension application, a veteran must also prove his or her eligibility for VA compensation by providing financial documentation and proof of service. To find out more about these financial assistance programs for veterans, recipients of benefits can review the following sections.

VA Disability Pay Rates and Compensation

VA disability rates can vary for veterans who apply to this program and qualify to receive benefits. The amount of pay provided to program beneficiaries is based on:

  • The severity of the veteran’s disability.
  • The number of dependents the applicant is responsible for.
  • The current VA disability rates that are provided by the program.

An eligible applicant’s mental or physical disability is rated by a percentage when the VA attempts to determine compensation rates. The VA compensation provided monthly to a beneficiary is based on this percentage, which is processed in increments of 10. For example, a veteran who is determined to be 90 percent disabled is paid a higher monthly benefit rate than a veteran who is only determined to be 10 percent disabled.

Additionally, if the VA disability dependent eligibility requirements are met for dependents of the veteran, he or she may receive more monthly benefits. The number of dependents an eligible program applicant is responsible for also determines the rate used by the VA for compensation. The payments provided to program beneficiaries are tax-free and provided each month the veteran remains eligible.

VA Disability Eligibility Criteria

Before a veteran can apply for VA disability benefits, he or she should ensure that all eligibility requirements are met. The VA requires an applicant to prove he or she meets these criteria before any compensation is provided. To meet the eligibility criteria, the applicant must be able to prove he or she served in the armed forces through active duty, active duty training or inactive duty training. He or she must also:

  • Have been discharged without dishonorable conditions.
  • Be at least 10 percent disabled from a mental or physical condition that was caused by or aggravated by service.

To meet the VA disability qualifying conditions for compensation, a veteran who served only in inactive duty training must have specific proof of a disability. He or she must have a disability that resulted from a stroke, heart attack or injury.

How to Apply for VA Disability Benefits

Veterans disability claims can be submitted to the VA online through the benefits website. Potential applicants who are unsure about eligibility status or completing the claims process are encouraged to enlist the assistance of a professional, such as:

  • An accredited attorney.
  • A claims agent.
  • A Veterans Service Officer (VSO).

These professionals can assist potential beneficiaries with the VA disability application process and ensure they meet eligibility requirements and complete the online application correctly. These representatives can also assist veterans, spouses and dependents who are eligible to participate in the Decision Ready Claims (DRC) program, which expedites the claims process.

Related Article: Eligibility for VA Disability Compensation

The online system requires a potential applicant to create an account and upload all pertinent documentation, including medical and military records. Completion of the application is considered a Fully Developed Claim (FDC). However, a veteran filing a VA disability claim does not have to complete the process all at once. He or she can save the inputted information and complete the claim up to one year later.

VA Special Monthly Compensation

Special monthly compensation may be available for veterans enrolled in the disability compensation program. This additional financial assistance is only provided to veterans who are living with severe disabilities or provide evidence of other special circumstances that require added compensation. The amount of VA special monthly compensation provided to eligible applicants also depends on the number of dependents in the household.

VA Pension Benefits

The VA pension program provides monetary assistance to veterans and their qualifying surviving family members who demonstrate financial need. The supplemental income provided through the program can be used by these veterans to ensure their basic needs and the needs of their family members are met after they have served in the armed forces. The monthly veterans pension provided by the program is tax-free, but is only available to low-income veterans and survivors who qualify for the program.

VA Pension Eligibility Requirements

There are different criteria for non service connected pension eligibility and for veterans who served. Survivor monthly pension benefits are available to qualifying low-income surviving spouses of veterans who have not remarried. Additionally, VA pension benefits may be available to children or dependents of deceased veterans who served during wars, but only if they can prove their need and relation to the veterans.

The VA pension requirements that must be met by veterans themselves who are applying for the compensation program include specific service requirements. The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty and at least one day of wartime duty. If the veteran served after September 7, 1980, he or she must have served at least 24 months or the entire service period as required.

Additionally, there are specific VA pension income limits that must be met by veterans or their surviving spouses or dependents to be eligible for veteran’s pension. The veteran must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • 65 years of age or older, with no or limited income
  • Currently receiving Social Security Disability insurance
  • Living in a nursing home and receiving care
  • Enrolled in Supplemental Security Income

In addition, the household income must prove to be under the maximum annual pension rate to qualify for benefits.

How to Apply for VA Pension

A veteran can complete the VA pension application online or by printing, completing and mailing it to his or her local Pension Management Center (PMC). Additionally, eligible veterans can also visit their local VA offices for assistance in applying for a veteran’s pension. The VA Form 21P-527EZ must be thoroughly filled out and submitted for consideration of pension benefits.

Throughout the veterans pension application process, a veteran is responsible for providing evidence of his or her service and financial statements pertaining to the household, including income, other government benefits received and expenses. Potential applicants can seek the assistance of accredited professionals and VA representatives when completing the application process.

VA Pension Rates and Calculations

The military pension rates provided through the program are calculated by the VA based on the eligible applicant’s specific situation and the funds available through the program. The annual amount of financial assistance provided through the program is the difference between the beneficiary’s countable income and the annual pension limit for the year, as set by Congress. Twelve equal monthly payments are distributed to the beneficiary throughout the year that he or she applies and is proven eligible.

Since VA pension rates are determined by a veteran’s countable income, it is important for applicants to understand how this figure is calculated. Countable income includes earnings and other income a household obtains, such as:

  • Paychecks from employers.
  • Other earnings.
  • Government assistance.
  • Retirement payments.
  • Income from annuities.
  • Farming or entrepreneurial income.

In addition, when calculating VA pension amounts, the department may take into account any household expenses, such as recurring medical bills, and reduce the countable income of an applicant. This can increase the beneficiary’s pension payment amount. The amount of VA financial benefits provided is also determined by an applicant’s net worth, including stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

Related Article: VA Disability Compensation

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