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Who qualifies for a veteran's pension?

Individuals spend varying amounts of time as members of the United States armed forces. There are those that are sent out to the front lines of the latest war soon after completing basic training only to be injured soon thereafter. Then there are others that make a career out of serving their country for decades. It can be confusing trying to make sense of who qualifies to receive a veteran's association (VA) pension and who does not.

Generally, a person is eligible to receive a veteran's pension only if they were not dishonorably discharged from military service. If they meet that criteria, then they must have also served at least 90 days of active duty. One of those service days must have fallen during a time of war.

For those were activated after September 7, 1980, they are required to have completed no less than 24 months of active duty. Additionally, any tour of duty must have been fully completed.

To qualify, you must also be able to document that your income falls below the established maximum annual pension rate (MAPR). There are certain limitations you must meet with respect to net worth as well.

VA pension recipients must also be at least 65 years of age or be a resident at a nursing home. Those younger than 65 years of age may also qualify for a VA pension. They have to document that have some type of non-service related disability or that they're receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration.

If you're deemed to qualify for a VA pension, then how much you receive will be calculated on a needs-based basis. Congress sets the MAPR. Currently, veterans with no dependents receive an annual amount of $12,868. The VA office also takes into account your net income during the 12 months prior to your pension application.

Ultimately, the VA takes your net income and subtracts the annual MAPR from it to arrive at your yearly pension amount. They will, however, subtract any medical expenses recipients have not previously been reimbursed for and other allowable expenses. This will reduce your overall household income, leading to a higher final pension amount.

If you're unclear as to whether you qualify for a VA pension, then you may benefit from the advice of an Irving, Texas VA pension benefits attorney.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, "What is VA pension?," accessed Sep. 08, 2017

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