VA pension for widow(er)s of wartime veterans
By Tammy Walters
Oneida County VSO
Survivor’s Pension may be paid to surviving spouses and eligible children of deceased wartime veterans if their countable income is below an annual limit set by law. Countable income for this pension is defined as household income from all sources, including but not limited to, wages, other pensions, social security, interest and dividends. Monthly payments are made by the VA to bring total household annual income to an established support level. Annual rates for 2017 are:
Surviving spouse: $8,656
Surviving spouse with one dependent: $11,330
Child alone: $2,205
There is a higher rate paid for widow(er)s who are deemed by the VA to be housebound and an even higher rate if they are in need of regular aid and attendance.
The VA will adjust (reduce) household income by annual household medical expenses that can be reasonably presumed to recur each month at the same rate over the next year such as Medicare, supplemental health insurance premiums and home health care costs. Doctor and medication co-pays are not normally accepted as recurring monthly medical expenses since they typically vary from month to month.
Additional requirements that must be met are:
• Veteran had to have been discharged from the service under other than dishonorable conditions.
• Veteran had to have served 90 days or more of active duty with at least one day during a war. The 90-day requirement can be waived if the veteran had a service-connected disability justifying discharge. The one-day during war requirement cannot be waived.
• Surviving spouse must not have remarried.
• Child(ren) must be under age 18 or under age 23 if attending a VA-approved school.
• Children who become incapable of self-support because of a disability before age 18 may be eligible for a pension as long as the condition exists, unless the child marries or their income exceeds the applicable limits.
Assets have to be under a certain amount, generally $80,000, but there are exceptions to that amount. For example, if a surviving spouse has assets of $90,000 and is in a nursing home paying $5,000 per month, $90,000 in assets would deplete quickly. That could be an exception to the $80,000 rule. A primary residence does not count as an asset as long as the surviving spouse is living in it.
If a widow(er), is in an assisted living facility or nursing home, there is a very good chance they would be eligible for this benefit. If in doubt, please contact our office to verify. We welcome and encourage adult children who are taking care of their parents to call us also.
Tammy Walters can be reached at (715) 369-6127 or [email protected] Jason Dailey, Assistant CVSO, can be reached at the same number or [email protected]