After you have honorably served your time in the military during a war, you want to know that you will be honored and recognized when you rotate back home. Thankfully, that is what the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is there for and there is a VA benefits application. Of course, it’s not as simple as sitting on your couch and receiving your pension; you have to get out there and do some work to show that you qualify. It may seem like common sense to you, but when dealing with a large entity like the VA you have to show everything on paper.
The benefit that we are talking about is known as the “Aid and Attendance” pension benefit. This basically means that you have to prove that you served during the appropriate time for a certain length of time. This benefit goes beyond the standard Service benefit and you can only qualify for it if you have qualified for the Service benefit as well. So in order to qualify for the Aid and Attendance benefit you need the service qualification and the asset qualification. The service qualification states that you:
- Were on active duty for at least 90 days
- Served at least one day during a time of war
- Were honorably discharged from the military
The asset qualification is a little more complicated in that the standards are a little more fluid and there is some legal wrangling that you can do here to make sure you get the most out of your benefits. The baseline qualification for the asset portion is that you cannot have more than $50,000 ($80,000 for married vets) in assets, not counting your house or vehicle(s). So we’re talking retirement funds (excluding Social Security), investments, and property you don’t live in. The VA uses a complex equation called the IVAP (Income for Veteran’s Purposes) to figure this all out. Because it is so complicated, many vets get someone to help them navigate it. It’s kind of like doing your taxes; you can do them on your own, but you generally will get a lot more back when you have a professional do them for you.
In order to get the Aid and Attendance pension benefit, you also need to prove your medical needs. In other words, you need to show that you require assistance in two basic daily activities (bathing, cooking, administering medication, etc.), are blind or nearly blind, or currently living in an assisted care facility.
All in all, it really is up to you to see if you qualify for the VA pension benefit. It’s not going to fall into your lap, so make sure you take the steps required. If you are unable to do so, find someone that can help you. There are professionals out there that specialize in such legal wrangling and can make sure that you get the most out of your VA benefits. After all, you have served your country in an exceptional manner and it is only fitting that you get what is rightfully yours.
About The Author: Marty Fogarty is the founder of The Heartland Law Firm, Chicago’s expert for VA benefits and holistic Elderlaw planning. Heartland uses the Internet to its fullest to solve certain offline challenges faster by working with trusted online resources. This is why www.VeteransBenefitsGuide.com was created; to give you clarity about your eligibility and certainty about your next step towards success in qualifying for VA benefits. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Do I qualify for VA benefits?” give the site a visit and have your questions answered.
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