Veterans with wartime service may qualify for a VA pension. They have more than earned this financial benefit due to their dedication and service to our country. The VA pension can help make life more secure for retired veterans as well as their loved ones. But in order to qualify, veterans must meet certain eligibility requirements before they apply. Serving during wartime alone is not sufficient, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Since the government is full of complex processes, here are some helpful tips to those applying for VA pension benefits.
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Who’s Eligible to Apply for VA Pension Benefits?
The VA pension is a needs-based benefit — which means veterans must meet certain income eligibility requirements. In order to qualify, veterans must:
- Have limited or no income AND
- Be aged 65 or older, OR
- Have a permanent and total non-service-connected disability
Some veterans may require even more assistance than the VA pension offers them. For these veterans, a “Special Monthly Pension” can provide additional money every month along with VA pension benefits. In order to qualify for the “Special Monthly Pension,” veterans must be housebound. Or, they must require another person’s help in order to perform daily living tasks. If you’re uncertain whether you meet these qualifications, consider speaking with a VA-accredited lawyer or advocate first.
How to Apply for VA Pension Benefits
The VA requires proof of eligibility before granting pension benefits to veterans. Here are the documents the VA requires:
- Proof of income and net worth information (the best documents to use are bank statements and paystubs, but tax forms may also work)
- Private medical records and where to find further treatment documentation (i.e. a VA medical center where you saw doctors regularly)
- A completed application form, specifically Form 21-527EZ
To get your VA pension claim approved quickly, you’ll need a Fully Developed Claim (FDC). Make sure you provide all of the information requested. This includes providing military and private medical records. If at any point in the application process you have questions, we can connect you with a local VA attorney. An advocate or lawyer can help you file your claim faster and get much-needed benefits you’re rightfully owed.
Can Surviving Spouses and Children Qualify for VA Pension Benefits?
Some VA pension benefits are available to deceased wartime vets’ surviving family members, including spouses and dependent children. This offers spouses and in some cases dependent children, to receive economic assistance. In order to qualify, you must:
- Be a deceased wartime veteran’s surviving spouse or dependent child
- Your yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress
- Your net worth must be less than the amount set by Congress
And just like with disability benefits, a larger VA pension amount is available for housebound veterans.
In order for surviving family members to apply for benefits, submit Form 21-534EZ to the VA. You’ll also need to submit all required information in addition to the application form to prove your eligibility. Current bank statements/pay stubs, birth, death and marriage certificates as well as tax forms from prior years are extremely helpful. And if you qualify for the “Special Monthly Pension,” use Form 21-2680.
You May Qualify for Legal Assistance
The government’s application processes are notorious for being complex and difficult to navigate. Consider speaking with a professional advocate near you. A lawyer can help you determine whether or not you qualify for benefits. Getting professional help with your claim makes the process as smooth as possible. And if your claim’s denied, a lawyer can represent your case when you appeal.
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