What Are VA Pensions?
VA pensions are supplemental payments for veterans. VA pensions are paid each month.
Veterans can receive VA pensions if they meet one of the following requirements:
- Older than 65
- Permanently disabled
- Receiving nursing home care
- Receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
Veterans must also fall under the countable family income limits set by Congress to receive these benefits.
In other words, if a veteran makes less than this limit ($130,773 as of December 2020), then they may be able to receive a VA pension. In some cases, family members can also receive pensions, such as if a veteran dies.
Veterans Affairs pensions are entirely different from regular service pensions. They can apply to veterans who left their military branch early and fell short of qualifying for standard retirement pensions.
Veterans with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease should see if they qualify for a VA pension. Veterans are often at a higher risk of asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma since the U.S. military heavily relied on the deadly substance for decades.
Benefits of a Mesothelioma Pension
Pensions have the ability to aid veterans that have been diagnosed with mesothelioma in multiple ways.
Some of these ways include a compensation and income supplement, which help veterans to cover living expenses, medical costs, and other types of expenses that can occur from being diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Another benefit involves a veteran’s degree of certainty that their surviving loved ones will be able to receive financial support if they qualify.
Knowing their loved ones are being taken care of through VA pension financial assistance can help to put a veteran’s mind at ease when considering their loved ones’ futures.
There are several resources that exist to help veterans and their loved ones understand how to seek compensation. Download our Free Mesothelioma Guide to better understand your options.
How Much Money Will I Receive from a VA Pension?
This depends on how much money you make each year and your overall net worth.
Congress sets the amount of funding that veterans may be able to receive from the Veterans Pension and Survivors Pension benefit programs. Congress also strikes a balance between countable income and net worth to ensure veterans who legitimately need the program are able to access it.
Countable income includes Social Security benefits, dependents’ income, and income from investments and retirement plans. Countable income may be reduced by medical expenses not covered by insurance.
The Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) is the maximum amount of pension payable.
It is based on a few factors, including:
- Number of dependents
- Marriage to another veteran who qualifies for a pension
- Eligibility for Aid & Attendance or housebound benefits
These aspects are taken into consideration when your VA pension payments are calculated. From there, you will know exactly how much money you are eligible to receive from the VA pension.
Eligibility for Mesothelioma VA Pension Benefits
VA pensions are considered supplemental income. They are tax-free financial benefits that disabled vets may be eligible for above other regular income sources. But, there are restrictions on qualifying for mesothelioma VA pension benefits.
Eligibility requirements include:
- Countable Income: This refers to a veteran’s current financial situation. Applicants must disclose all income sources such as other pension monies, earnings from employment, and any interest or dividends from savings or investments. How much money a veteran makes affects their pension rate (how much money the pension will pay). Low-income veterans receive more pension.
- Net Worth: Disability pension applicants also have to disclose their entire net worth including stocks, bonds, and mutual fund annuities. Real estate holdings are also assessed, however, personal residences are excluded from a net worth calculation.
- Honorably Discharged: Military veterans must be honorably discharged from their military branch to qualify for pension benefits. The length of service is not the main factor. It’s the performance level that matters. Veterans who were dishonorably discharged are not eligible to apply for any VA compensation or healthcare benefits under any circumstances. That includes disability pensions.
- Service Documents: Veterans must have documented support that they were employed by a military department. This can be discharged papers, service certificates, or government-issued identification. It’s helpful to have records showing service occupations and posting locations that coincide with how the disability developed.
- Medical Proof: Applicants for supplementary pension benefits must prove they have a medically-diagnosed disability. Normally, this support comes from a primary physician providing VA with a report outlining their patient’s medical history and diagnostic assessment. It should include a summary of how the disability developed, how it currently affects the claimant, and what the long-term prognosis is.
- Age Requirement: Veterans who apply for the VA pension benefit program must be 65 or older. There are exceptional cases for younger veterans who are totally and permanently disabled, are in nursing care homes, blind, or already receive insufficient Social Security or Supplementary income.
- Wartime Service: This is a fine-print condition in the Veterans Affairs eligibility guidelines. This clause is complex and states that veterans applying for certain disability pension benefits must have served at least 90 days of active duty with a minimum of one inclusive day being during a designated wartime period. This regulation also makes a date reference to before and after September 7, 1980. Non-wartime veterans who are considering applying for disability pension benefits should get independent advice about how this wartime service clause can impact their pension plans.
- Disability Degree: VA administration considers a veteran applicant’s degree of disability in assessing pension benefit eligibility. This includes a veteran’s mobility restrictions such as being housebound or bedridden. Vets who require personal home care may be eligible for Aid & Attendance compensation on top of supplementary pension payments.
- Length of Service: Monthly pensions are paid to honorably discharged military service members who completed a minimum specified service length. These veterans earn monthly compensation amounts based on how long they spent in the service and what their annual income amounted to.
Veterans should speak to a VA-accredited claims agent to learn more about these requirements and how they impact VA pensions.
VA Survivors Pension & Mesothelioma
If a veteran with mesothelioma passes away, their dependents may be entitled to receive what is called the VA survivors pension.
The veteran must not have been dishonorably discharged for their dependents to receive this payment.
The dependents must also meet certain criteria based on their:
- Marital status
- Income/net worth
This monthly payment is calculated based on the difference between the dependents’ income, their overall net worth, and the MAPR.
The most important qualifying factor for receiving the VA survivors pension dictates that spouses and children must not be remarried or married after the veteran has passed.
Dependent children must also be under the age of 18 unless attending school — in this case, they may be eligible to continue to receive benefits until the age of 23.
If the spouse of a deceased veteran has no children dependents, they are eligible to receive an MAPR of $9,344. If the spouse has one dependent child the MAPR changes to $12,229.
Other benefit entitlements may also affect pension rates.
Applying for VA Pension
Veterans and their families have a few different options when it comes to applying for a VA pension.
You can apply for VA pension:
- By mail
- In-person at the regional VA office nearest you
- Online through the VA’s website
Regardless of how you apply, your application should always be done with the help of a lawyer or VA-accredited claims agent.
Mesothelioma lawyers can help veterans identify where and when they may have come into contact with asbestos-containing products while serving. A claims agent can take this information and use it to file a strong VA claim that will hopefully award the veteran with a pension.
Other Veterans Benefits Related to VA Pensions
Other benefits may be available to veterans and survivors based on their disability or illness. Similar to the VA pension, these benefits are available to qualified veterans and survivors and are additions to the MAPR.
Veterans and survivors are only eligible to receive these benefits if they meet specific criteria.
Aid & Attendance (A&A)
To receive A&A benefits, you must require help with daily activities within your home, including but not limited to feeding, dressing, and bathing.
As with the VA pension, the amount that you are eligible to receive as a veteran or survivor differs depending on the same criteria as the VA pension, such as number of dependents.
Due to the nature of mesothelioma and how it affects daily life, people diagnosed with this disease may be entitled to receive this benefit.
Similar to the VA pension, individuals can apply for this benefit by completing the VA form 21-2680 and sending it to their Pension Management Center (PMC). The examination portion of the form is completed by a physician.
Veterans who receive a VA pension and are unable to leave their homes due to an illness or disability may be eligible for VA housebound benefits.
Veterans with mesothelioma who are housebound may be eligible to apply for this benefit. A veteran is not eligible for both A&A and housebound benefits at the same time.
Veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma or recovering from mesothelioma treatment or surgery may not have the energy to leave their homes. Mesothelioma symptoms or treatment side-effects may also force veterans to spend most of their time in bed resting.
Learn More About Mesothelioma Pensions
VA pensions can provide immense aid at a time when you need it most. It can also give you comfort knowing that assistance is available for your loved ones when they need it as well.
Both veterans with mesothelioma and their surviving spouses and dependents may be eligible to receive VA pensions, survivor pensions, and other benefits.
Veterans are encouraged to work with a skilled mesothelioma attorney who can help them build a strong claim and get the compensation they deserve.
Contact us today to learn more about receiving a VA pension and other benefits.