Ronald Fatoullah & Associates - Elder Law

Benefits for Veterans


By Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. and Yan Lian Kuang-Maoga, Esq.

{4:27 minutes to read} Veterans with limited income who are permanently and totally disabled or 65 years or older may receive an "improved" pension. To receive this benefit, the veteran must have been discharged under "other than dishonorable conditions" and served 90 days or more of active duty, one day of World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War or Gulf War.

A Veteran Administration's improved pension has three levels: Basic Pension, Housebound Pension and Aid & Attendance. The 2015 maximum benefit rates are as follows:


Basic Pension:
·Single Veteran ........................... $12,868/year ($1,072/month)
·Veteran with one dependent ............ $16,851/year ($1,404/month)
·Widowed Spouse ......................... $8,629/year ($719/month)

·Single Veteran ........................... $15,725/year ($1,310/month)
·Veteran with one dependent ............ $19,710/year ($1,642/month)
·Widowed Spouse ........................ $10,547/year ($879/month)

Aid & Attendance:
·Single Veteran ........................... $21,466/year ($1,788/month)
·Veteran with one dependent ............ $25,447/year ($2,120/month)
·Widowed Spouse ......................... $13,794/year ($1,149/month)

The first level is the Basic Pension, which is available to veterans 65 and older. The Veterans Administration ("VA") classifies any veteran who reaches the age of 65 as "permanently and totally disabled." This classification entitles the veteran or his widow to a Basic Pension. A doctor's assessment is not necessary to confirm the disability.

In order to receive the Basic Pension, the veteran must also be financially eligible. Eligibility is determined by reviewing the veteran's income and assets. The VA will determine whether or not the veteran's assets, excluding his home, furnishings and vehicles, are sufficient to support him for his lifetime. A commonly used measure is whether there is $80,000 or less in assets, regardless of whether the veteran is married or single.

The second level of pension is the Housebound Pension. To be eligible for the Housebound Pension, the individual need not require assistance with activities of daily living per se, but must require some assistance, as confirmed by the veteran's personal physician.

The veteran must have a single permanent disability that is 100 percent disabling and be permanently confined to his premises or have a single permanent disability that is 100 percent disabling and another disability that is 60 percent or more disabling. A veteran will not be eligible for both Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits at the same time.

The highest level awarded is Aid & Attendance. Aid & Attendance is a benefit for veterans and surviving spouses who need assistance with activities of daily living, without which they would not be able to function independently. To qualify medically, a veteran or surviving spouse must require the assistance of another person to perform daily tasks, such as eating, dressing, undressing, toileting, etc.

Blindness or residing in a nursing home or assisted living facility due to mental or physical incapacity also qualifies the individual for Aid & Attendance. The attending physician must certify that the individual's physical limitations are such that he cannot live independently without assistance.

If Medicaid is covering a nursing home resident's care, the facility will receive the pension and Aid & Attendance and the resident will receive $90 monthly for his personal needs. Due to the complex nature of benefits for veterans, it is advisable to consult a professional who can provide advice regarding what benefits may be available, and to ensure that the veteran has his legal house in order.

Ronald A. Fatoullah, Esq. is the principal of Ronald Fatoullah & Associates, a law firm that exclusively concentrates in elder law, special needs planning, estate planning, Medicaid planning, guardianships, estate administration, trusts, wills, and real estate.

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