Veteran SalutingVeteran’s Pension Benefits

Many of my clients, who are retirees, tell me that their income is derived from sources such as social security and distributions from various retirement accounts and brokerage accounts. Several clients are lucky enough to have pensions from their previous employers (for example, AT&T, Tyco (AMP), Reynolds Tobacco, the State of NC, etc.). Most of these retirees knew before they retired that they would have an income stream for the duration of their lives, which may even be enjoyed after their death by their surviving spouse. I don’t know of a single employee who, upon retirement, had to APPLY for their employer-sponsored pension. Upon retirement, the pension income was deposited into the bank account of the retiree’s choice.

Many U.S. veterans (or their surviving spouses) are entitled to a pension from the Veterans Administration (the “VA”) for their military service. However, the VA is not very proactive about letting these veterans (or their surviving spouses) KNOW that they may be entitled to such benefits. In fact, qualified veterans (or surviving spouses) must submit a lengthy application to the VA and must await approval before their VA pension begins. Many veterans who are eligible never apply, because they either don’t know they are eligible OR they don’t know how to apply.

Eligibility for VA Pension Benefits

In order to determine if you are eligible for pension benefits, you (or your deceased spouse) must satisfy the following requirements:

1. If the veteran entered service prior to September 7, 1980, he or she must have had 90 continuous days of active military service. If the veteran entered service after September 7, 1980, he or she must have had 24 continuous months of active military service.

2. At least one (1) of the days of continuous active military service must have been during a wartime period. The VA provides the following dates for the beginning and ending of various wartime periods:

– World War II: December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946;

– Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955;

– Vietnam Era: August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975; (for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964, the wartime period began February 28, 1961 and lasted until May 7, 1975);

– Gulf War: August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation.

3. The veteran (or surviving spouse) must be age 65 or older OR have a permanent and total disability which is not related to the veteran’s service in the military.

What Will My VA Pension Amount Be?

The amount of monthly VA Pension a veteran (or his or her surviving spouse) can receive depends on several factors relating to your income, assets, and medical needs. Your VA Pension can help you pay for in-home health care aides, assisted living community care, and nursing home care. If you would like to determine the amount of pension you may be entitled to receive, please do not hesitate to call the office of Coltrane, Grubbs & Orenstein. Julie R. Orenstein is a local attorney, who is accredited with the Veterans Administration. She can help you qualify and apply for the VA Pension you may be entitled to receive.