There are dozen of different programs available to veterans of war, but two in particular come into play if there is a need for long-term care or if a disability develops. According to Paul Stano , an elder law attorney from Ohio – People are typically not informed enough, when it comes to veterans benefits.
VA Disability Compensation
The first is known as the VA Disability Compensation program, and most veterans are very familiar with how it works. If a veteran suffers from an illness or injury resulting from the veteran’s service in any branch of the military, a monthly payment is made to the veteran. The disability can be obvious and the cause of discharge, or can develop years after the veteran’s service is ended, as long as it was caused by the time served. For example, loss of a limb would be an immediate qualifier, while lung disease from exposure to Agent Orange would take many years to develop, but would qualify a veteran for compensation.
The amount that is paid is dependent upon the level of disability. The VA will review medical records and determine a percentage of disability. The more severe the disability is, the higher the monthly payment amount will be. One nice aspect of the VA Disability Compensation program is that this amount is paid monthly regardless of your assets or earnings from employment or a business venture.
VA Special Monthly Pension
According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs the second is not as well known, and depending on where you live will have different names. For the sake of simplicity, we will refer to it as the Special Monthly Pension. Unlike VA Disability Compensation, the VA Special Monthly Pension is a needs based program. Qualifying for it can be tricky, and many VA employees do not even fully understand how the program works to advise you. If you need the special monthly pension, it is suggested you seek the help of an elder law attorney who has experience with the program.
The VA Special Monthly Pension program takes disability into account for eligibility, but the disability does not have to be related to the veteran’s service. In fact, being over age 65 alone will qualify as a “disability” for eligibility, even if you are completely healthy. Other qualifying disabilities include heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
The one downside to the VA Special Monthly Pension is that because it is needs based, it has pretty strict asset and income limitations. The VA will use a formula to determine the Income for Veterans Administration Purposes, or IVAP. The IVAP is calculated by taking the gross income for the entire household and then subtracting any non-reimbursed health care expenses. If the IVAP is more than what the pension amount would be, the application will be denied. If the IVAP is less than what the pension amount would be, then the veteran will receive some amount of monthly payment.
Wartime Service Qualifications
Many programs require that the veteran have served during a time of war. The Veterans Administration lists the following dates as wartime eligibility for benefits:
Mexican Border: May 9, 1916 to April 5, 1917
World War I: April 6, 1917 to November 11, 1918
April 1, 1920 if served in Russia
World War II: December 7, 1941 to December 31, 1946
Korean War: June 27, 1950 to January 31, 1955
For veterans that served in Vietnam:
February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975
All other veterans:
August 5, 1964 to May 7, 1975
Persian Gulf War: August 2, 1990 to TBD
For the VA Special Monthly Pension, the veteran must have served 90 consecutive days, with at least one day falling in the above listed dates. As with most VA programs, the veteran must have been honorably discharged.