Veterans Benefits

Very few people are aware that there are pension benefits available to wartime veterans, their spouses and widows/widowers that are not based on service connected injuries.

Are there Veterans financial benefits that are designed to help elderly veterans and their widows?

Yes, in addition to medical and hospital care the VA has two categories of tax free financial benefits that help elderly veterans and their widows. The first is for all veterans and is called "compensation." It deals with injury or illness incurred or aggravated during military service. The second is a pension limited to veterans, and their widows, who served during a wartime period and who were not dishonorably discharged.

What are these wartime periods?

A veteran must have served one day during a wartime period and a total of 90 days active duty. The wartime periods are:

WWIIDecember 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
Korean WarJune 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
VietnamFebruary 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975
Gulf WarsAugust 2, 1980 to the present

What is "Aid and Attendance"?

"Aid and Attendance" is the VA's name for its highest level of pension benefits available to wartime veterans and their widows. It offers financial help to a Veteran or his widow who needs the help of another person to assist him or her with the ordinary activities of daily living at home or in an assisted living or nursing home facility.

What is the benefit?

In 2013 a single veteran without dependants receives a maximum of $1,788 per month. A married couple without dependants receives a maximum of $2,120 per month and a surviving spouse without dependents $1,113.

What are the financial limitations that determine eligibility?

The experience of attorneys who assist veterans in obtaining these pensions is that the veteran's medical care expenses should be greater or equal to household income. There is also a limit on family assets but the VA has not yet decided on the amount.

Who can file an application for a veteran?

The veteran or a relative or friend (on a one-time basis), a VA accredited attorney or accredited lay person. Veteran's service organizations, such as the VFW, provide Veterans Service Officers who are accredited to the VA to assist Veterans and their families file applications.

Is an attorney or other person permitted to charge a veteran for preparing an application?

No. By VA rule no one is permitted to charge a veteran for preparing or filing an application for benefits until after the initial application is denied.

What is the role of an attorney in helping a veteran?

The attorney can help the veteran meet the VA's financial limitation requirements and will charge for this planning. He also will often prepare the application but does not charge a fee for this service.

How long does it take to get the benefits?

The experience of attorneys is that it can take an average of six months after filing the application. The benefit dates from the month after filing and the veteran will get the monthly benefit that has accrued during the time the VA is evaluating the application in a lump sum.