If you are a veteran, you may qualify for a VA Pension or VA Compensation, and applying for benefits should be part of your estate plan. However, like many government programs, it is crucial to understand the application and eligibility process. There are pros and cons of a VA Pension versus VA Compensation, and we help determine the best choice for financial support or covering the additional costs of disabilities for yourself, caretakers, and surviving family members.
VA Compensation is a tax-free financial payment made to Veterans with disabilities from active military service, including disease or injury during active military service. Different forms of compensation include:
- Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) to the Veteran’s survivors
- Special Monthly Compensation (SMC) for the Veteran, their spouses, and parents
These funds are intended to help veterans who can’t support themselves due to disabilities. Spouses of Veterans can also receive benefits for the aid and attendance they provide to a Veteran in their household.
VA compensation can also provide additional benefits, including housing and insurance. Qualification is based on the level of disability, not income.
VA Pension benefits are provided to wartime veterans and survivors who have financial needs. They may be eligible if they are:
- At least 65 years old, or
- Suffered a permanent and total disability, or
- Living in a nursing home for long-term care because of disability, or
- Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
You must not have been dishonorably discharged, and your annual family income must meet mandated limits.
Your service must meet certain criteria:
- Started on active duty before September 8, 1980, and served at least 90 days on active duty, with at least one day during wartime, or
- Started on active duty as an enlisted person after September 7, 1980, and served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions) with at least one day during wartime, or
- Served as an officer and started on active duty after October 16, 1981, without previously serving on active duty for at least 24 months.
Typically, monthly payments for VA Pensions are lower than VA Disability Compensation. This can cause veterans to select VA Disability Compensation over a VA Pension.
The Law Office of Matthew Allen has over 20 years of legal experience helping clients in Indiana understand estate planning, elder law, guardianship, special needs planning, Veterans planning, and probate. Attorney Matthew Allen is accredited by the United States Veterans’ Administration to represent Veterans and is a member of the Elder Law and Real Estate Sections of the Indiana State Bar Association.
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The Law Office of Matthew Allen, LLC
688 East 63rd Street
Indanapolis, IN 46220