Understanding Veteran’s Benefits & Eligibility

Sivia Law

Todd Sivia
Managing Partner, Sivia Business & Legal Services

In honor of Veteran’s Day, I wanted to talk about benefits available to Veterans and their spouses. The federal government offers a variety of benefits to Vets and their families, but many Vets are unsure how to access such benefits or aware of the eligibility requirements.

There are several benefits available, including education and training, compensation, home loans, rehabilitation, life insurance and pension offerings for Veterans and their dependents. Each benefit has its own eligibility requirements.

A Veterans Pension is a tax-free benefit paid to low-income, wartime Vets. Similarly, a Survivors Pension is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased Veteran with wartime service.

To qualify, a Vet or a surviving spouse must be housebound or require the aid and attendance of another person. Pension benefits are needs based and your “countable” family income must fall below the yearly limit set by law.

Veterans must have at least 90 days of active duty, including one day during a wartime period, to qualify for a VA pension. The 90 days does not have to be continuous. At least 90 days of active duty service during WWI, WWII, Korean War, or the Vietnam War (09/16/40 to 07/25/47, 06/27/50 to 01/31/55, and 08/05/64 to 05/07/75). If you served less than 90 days, you may be eligible if discharged for a service-connected disability.

If the active duty occurred after 9/7/1980, you must have served at least 24 months or the full period that you were called up (with some exceptions).

Eligible Veterans must also be:

  • Age 65 or older with limited or no income, OR
  • Totally and permanently disabled, OR
  • A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
  • Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
  • Receiving Supplemental Security Income

A Survivors Pension is calculated to be an amount equal to the difference between your countable family income and the annual pension limit set by Congress. For spouses or unmarried children to qualify for the Survivors Pension benefit, the deceased Veteran must have met the following service requirements:

  • Veterans must have at least 90 days of active duty, including one day during a wartime period, to qualify for a VA pension. The 90 days does not have to be continuous. At least 90 days of active duty service during WWI, WWII, Korean War, or the Vietnam War (09/16/40 to 07/25/47, 06/27/50 to 01/31/55, and 08/05/64 to 05/07/75).
  • If the active duty occurred after 9/7/1980, you must have served at least 24 months or the full period that you were called up (with some exceptions).
  • Was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions.

Discerning eligibility and the completing the application can be a daunting, complicated process. If you, or someone you love, may qualify for VA or survivor benefits, contact me at 618-659-4499 or email me at info@sivialaw.com. You can also visit our website at www.sivialaw.com for more information on our Veteran’s Benefits assistance. I would be honored to assist a Veteran receive the benefits he/she deserves for protecting our freedom.

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