VA Pension is a benefit that provides monthly cash payments to veterans and their surviving spouses to pay for long term care expenses. The benefit can be used to pay for a variety of long term care expenses, including independent living, assisted living, at home care, and nursing home care, Along with having a medical need for such care, a veteran and surviving spouse must meet income and assets levels to receive VA pension. The asset requirements are discussed in other posts on this website. In this post, we will focus on the income requirements for VA Pension.
Depending on the family situation of the veteran or surviving spouse and the amount of long term care needed, the VA regulations provide a maximum monthly amount. For example in 2017, a single veteran, who requires the maximum amount of care, known as aid and attendance, can receive $1,794 a month. The maximum amount of VA pension is awarded if the applicant’s monthly long term care expenses exceed their monthly income not counting the VA Pension. For example, if a veteran has monthly income of $2,500 and medical expenses, including assisted living expenses, of $3,000, the veteran will receive the maximum amount of VA Pension. If the veteran has $3,100 of monthly income and $3,000 of monthly unreimbursed medical expenses, the veteran’s monthly VA Pension will be $100 less than the maximum.
It is common for a veteran or surviving spouse to be approved for a lower VA Pension amount than that which they are entitled. This occurs because the VA is incorrectly counting income too high, undercounting medical expenses, or both. Frequently, we see the VA get the income and medical expense numbers correct, but award a lower benefit due to the VA’s inability to do math. When approved to receive VA Pension, the numbers should be verified.
If an applicant for VA Pension does not qualify because their income or assets are above the VA requirements, the services of an accredited VA attorney experienced in elder law should be consulted.