If you served your country in the United States Armed Forces, or you are a surviving dependent of someone who did, the country owes you a debt of gratitude that can never truly be repaid. Nevertheless, the government does attempt to give back to veterans and their dependents in the form of veterans benefits. Though you may already know about many of the benefits to which you are entitled, a veterans benefits attorney discusses what veterans need to know about some of the more common benefits.
Veteran’s pension program provides monthly benefit payments to certain wartime veterans with financial need, and their survivors. The veterans pension program is a needs-based benefit paid to a wartime veteran and his/her survivor(s). A veteran may generally be eligible if he/she:
- was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions, AND
- served 90 days or more of active military, naval or air service with at least 1 day during a period of war, AND
- his/her countable income is below the maximum annual pension rate, AND
- meets the net worth limitations, AND
- is age 65 or older, OR is shown by evidence to have a permanent and total non-service connected disability, OR is a patient in a nursing home, OR is receiving Social Security disability benefits.
Note: Veterans who entered active duty after September 7, 1980, must also have served at least 24 months of active duty service. If the total length of service is less than 24 months, the Veteran must have completed his/her entire tour of active duty.
Veterans Aid and Attendance Program
The Veteran’s Aid & Attendance (VA&A) program is intended to provide additional monetary assistance above and beyond that provided by the VA pension program. The additional assistance is aimed at helping veterans who need help with daily tasks of living, such as dressing, bathing, or cooking by providing the financial resources to hire someone to help. As of 2018, the VA&A program pays up to $2,169 per month to an eligible veteran (or up to $1,178 per month to the widow/widower of a veteran) who is in need of aid and attendance from a health care provider. To be eligible for VA&A benefits as a surviving spouse you must first be eligible for DIC benefits. In addition, you must be 65 or disabled, your spouse cannot have been dishonorably discharged, and you must have been living with the veteran at the time of their death and must be single at the time of your claim.
Medicare and Veterans Benefits
It is possible to qualify for both Medicare and veterans benefits; however, Medicare and VA benefits do not work well together. Medicare does not pay for any care that you receive at a VA facility. For Medicare to cover your care, you must receive care at a Medicare-certified facility that works with your Medicare coverage. Conversely, for your VA coverage to cover your care, you must generally receive health care services at a VA facility. Moreover, VA benefits will not pay for Medicare cost-sharing (deductibles, copayments, coinsurances).
Surviving Spouse Benefits — Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
The most well-known benefit available to a surviving spouse is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military Service members who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.
To be eligible as a surviving spouse you must have been:
- Married to a Service member who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, OR
- Validly married the Veteran before January 1, 1957, OR
- Married to the Veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the Veteran’s death began or was aggravated, OR
- Married to the Veteran for at least one year, OR
- Had a child with the Veteran, AND
- Cohabited with the Veteran continuously until the Veteran’s death or, if separated, was not at fault for the separation, AND
- Not currently be remarried
As of 2018, the basic monthly rate of DIC is $1,283.11 for an eligible surviving spouse. The rate is increased for each dependent child, and also if the surviving spouse is housebound or in need of aid and attendance. VA also adds a transitional benefit of $317.87 to the surviving spouse’s monthly DIC if there are children under age 18.
Contact a Veterans Benefits Attorney
For additional information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions about veterans benefits, contact the experienced veterans benefits attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.