Veterans Administration Pension Benefits

Many veterans are unaware of an available benefit to help pay for long-term care in their home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home. This benefit is the VA Disability Pension (which includes Aid and Attendance) and is a benefit paid to wartime veterans who meet certain financial requirements, and who are age 65 or older, or, if under 65, who are permanently and totally disabled due to non-service-connected conditions.  Before a claim for Aid and Attendance may be awarded, a veteran or surviving spouse must first meet the Disability Pension eligibility requirements. Veterans who are more seriously disabled may qualify for increased benefits based on Aid and Attendance or being Housebound.  Housebound benefits provide a lower monthly payment than Aid and Attendance benefits as shown in the table below.

A veteran may be eligible for pension with an additional award for Aid and Attendance if:

  • The veteran served at least 90 days of active military service, 1 day of which was during a wartime period; and if the veteran entered active duty after September 7, 1980, service of at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty (there are exceptions to this rule); AND
  • The veteran was discharged from service under conditions other than dishonorable; AND
  • The veteran’s countable family income is below a yearly limit set by law (the yearly limit on income is set by Congress); AND
  • The veteran is age 65 or older OR permanently and totally disabled, and now requires the assistance of another person as explained more fully below.

A surviving spouse of a wartime veteran may be eligible for Death Pension with an additional award for Aid and Attendance if the deceased veteran met the wartime, active duty and discharge requirements above, the surviving spouse has limited income and assets, and is over 65 or disabled and requires the assistance of another person as explained more fully below.

To determine the amount of the monthly pension, total all income.  Subtract any out-of-pocket medical expenses from total income.  Medical expenses may include expenses for personal care givers in the home (including family members), assisted living facilities, and nursing home expenses. So a veteran with several thousand dollars of monthly income may qualify if unreimbursed medical expenses reduces or completely offsets their monthly income. The remaining income is deducted from the appropriate annual pension limit, which is determined by the number of dependents, if any, and whether or not the veteran is entitled to Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits.  This amount is then divided by 12 and rounded down to the nearest dollar.  This gives you the amount of the monthly payment.

Aid and Attendance (A&A) and Housebound are benefits paid in addition to monthly pension. To be eligible, the Veteran (or surviving spouse) must qualify for pension. Entitlement to A&A benefits exists when the claimant requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting himself or herself from the hazards of his or her daily living environment.  Entitlement also exists when the claimant is bedridden, a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, or is blind.  Entitlement to Housebound benefits exists when the claimant is permanently and substantially confined to his or her immediate premises due to medical disability.  The VA will consider a claim for Housebound benefits if a claimant is denied Aid and Attendance benefits.

2014 Pension Benefit Figures—Wartime Veteran

Type of Benefit Max. Annual Pension Rate (Income Limit) Max. Monthly Pension Rate (Income Limit)
Service Pension $12,652 $1,054
 One dependent $16,569 $1,381
Housebound $15,462 $1,288
One dependent $19,380 $1,615
Aid and Attendance $21,107 $1,758
One dependent $25,022 $2,085
Each additional dependent child +$2,161 +$180