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2012 Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents & Survivors Booklet

More information on Enhanced Pension Benefits click here

The Veteran Enhance Pension Benefit is a needs based program paid to a veteran, an unremarried surviving spouse, or an unmarried child of a deceased wartime veteran.  Pension Payments over the base pension for medical assistance are often referred to as Aid and Attendance. 

How do I know if I'm eligible?

You may be eligible if:

The veteran was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, AND

The veteran served at least 90 days of active military service 1 day of which was during a war time period.   If he or she entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally he or she must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which called or ordered to active duty.    (There are exceptions to this rule.) AND

You are the surviving spouse or unmarried child of the deceased veteran, AND

Your countable income is below a yearly limit set by law (The yearly limit on income is set by Congress).

As you can see, there are a number of criteria that may affect your eligibility to pension benefits.   If you are unsure if you meet all criteria, we encourage you to go ahead and file an application, particularly if your countable income appears to be near the maximum.   VA will determine if you are eligible and notify you.  

 If you do not initially qualify, you may reapply if you have un-reimbursed medical expenses during the twelve month period after VA receives your claim that bring your countable income below the yearly income limit.   (These are expense you have paid for medical services or products for which you will not be reimbursed by Medicare or private medical insurance.)

Are there age requirements, or restrictions?

An unremarried spouse can be any age.

A child must be: under 18, or
in school and under 23, or
was incapable of self support before the age of 18

What is " income" for pension eligibility?
This includes income received from most sources by the veteran, surviving spouse and any eligible children.   It includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business.

There is a presumption that all of a child's income is available to or for the surviving spouse.   VA may grant an exception in hardship cases.

Certain expenses like medical expenses may be excluded from your annual income to lower the total countable income.

What about net worth?
Net worth means the net value of the assets of the surviving spouse and his or her children.   It includes such assets as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and any property other than the surviving spouse's residence and a reasonable lot area.   There is no set limit on how much net worth a surviving spouse and his or her children can have, but net worth cannot be excessive.   The decision as to whether a claimant's net worth is excessive depends on the facts of each individual case.   All net worth should be reported and VA will determine if a claimant's assets are sufficiently large that the claimant could live off these assets for a reasonable period of time.   VA's needs-based programs are not intended to protect substantial assets or build up an estate for the benefit of heirs.


Are there any exclusions to income or deductions that may be made to reduce countable income?

Yes, there are exclusions.   The following are examples of the types of exclusions or deductibles to countable income:

  • Final expenses of the veteran's last illness and burial paid by the surviving spouse or eligible children.
  • Public assistance such as Supplemental Security Income is not considered income.
  • Many other specific sources of income are not considered income, however all income should be reported.   VA will exclude any income that the law allows.
  • A portion of un-reimbursed medical expenses paid by the claimant after VA receives your pension claim may be deducted.
  • Certain other expenses, such as a surviving spouse's education expenses, and in some cases, a portion of the educational expenses of a child over 18 are deductible. 

 How to Apply for Aid and Attendance and Housebound:

You may apply for Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits by writing to the VA regional office having jurisdiction of the claim. That would be the office where you filed a claim for pension benefits.  If the regional office of jurisdiction is not known, you may file the request with any VA regional office.  We recommend that your actually file the application with one of the three VA Service Pension Maintenance Centers listed below that serve your state. 

  • You should include copies of any evidence, preferably a report from an attending physician validating the need for Aid and Attendance or Housebound type care.
  • The report should be in sufficient detail to determine whether there is disease or injury producing physical or mental impairment, loss of coordination, or conditions affecting the ability to dress and undress, to feed oneself, to attend to sanitary needs, and to keep oneself ordinarily clean and presentable.
  • In addition, it is necessary to determine whether the claimant is confined to the home or immediate premises.
  • Whether the claim is for Aid and Attendance or Housebound, the report should indicate how well the individual gets around, where the individual goes, and what he or she is able to do during a typical day.
Submit the Application to the appropriate Pension Maintenance Center 
Milwaukee Pension Maintenance Center
Veterans Administration
5400 West National Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53214
Processes claims for the following states:

St. Paul Pension Maintenance Center

Veterans Administration
1 Federal Drive, Fort Snelling
St. Paul, MN 55111-4050
Processes claims for the following states:
Philadelphia Pension Maintenance Center
Veterans Administration
5000 Wissahickon Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19101
Processes claims for the following states:
It is recomend that applications be sent via Federal Express or UPS/USPS return receipt requested to be assured that application was submitted, received and establishes the date of the application.  Approval of applications may take a year or more but pension benefits are paid retro-actively from date of the application establishing the date the application was submitted is important.





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