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When submitting an application for Pension it is important to do it right. Missing documents or errors on the application can delay a decision for up to a year because of the required notification and response times from VA for handling claims. The first of these are applications for veteran households with low income and few assets. For living veterans under the age of 65, medical evidence must also be submitted for proof of total disability.
Anyone on Social Security disability is considered totally disabled for purposes of Pension. For living veterans, age 65 and older, there is no requirement to be disabled.
Single surviving spouses of veterans also have no requirement for disability. These low-income applications may or may not have a need for an additional rating to receive an aid and attendance or housebound allowance.
The second type of application is one where the household typically has income above the income limit. These applicants may also have significant assets and some legitimate planning has to occur to make sure that the net worth limit is met.
These types of claims almost always involve the high costs of long term care. These care costs may be for the following types of services:. You can learn about these types of applications in the articles under thetable of contents in the right hand column of this page. These second types of claims require medical evidence for a rating for aid and attendance or housebound. These ratings are necessary for certain medical expenses associated with long term care.
These ratings and associated medical expenses are almost always needed to reduce income below the income limit. These claims also require using an experienced accredited claim representative who understands how to get a successful award. Claims for this second type of application are the subject of this website and this article.
Here are the forms typically associated with these more challenging types of claims. A claim is submitted by the veteran or by the veteran's single surviving spouse in the case of a death claim. A duly appointed service organization, an employee of the local regional VA office, or a VA approved accredited agent or attorney may help a veteran or surviving spouse file a claim.
A claim cannot be filed with a general or durable power of attorney. In other words, the veteran or widow must sign all VA Forms. Many children with a state authorized durable power of attorney have submitted claims on behalf of a parent and are chagrined to have the claim rejected by VA. If the veteran or widow can only mark an "X" for a signature, 2 witnesses may print and sign their names next to the mark and write in their addresses. VA will accept a mark from the claimant if 2 individuals witness and ratify the mark.
After benefits are granted. VA may appoint an non-official fiduciary to take over the financial management of pension funds for the claimant if VA determines he or she is incompetent.
VA always looks for family or next of kin to act as the fiduciary. A "rating" is granted by a veteran service representative where a condition exists that requires more caregiver support for the disability. Medical evidence is required unless someone is a patient in a nursing home, and then the requirement is waived. The rating allows VA to pay an additional monthly amount of Pension or Compensation to a veteran or a surviving spouse for additional costs associated with this disability.
The application form has a block allowing for a request for either rating. Submitting medical evidence in advance instead of waiting for a request from VA can help expedite the process of getting this rating. Can the non-veteran spouse of a living veteran receive a rating for aid and attendance or housebound? An aid and attendance or housebound allowance is also available to a surviving spouse receiving DIC.
According to VA, a rating is not available to the non-veteran spouse of a living veteran for Pension. A rating is available to the single surviving spouse for death Pension. The veteran must provide an original copy of discharge from service, typically a DD or a WD. A photocopy is allowed if it is certified by a government agency recognized to do this. This could be the local courthouse. For a death benefit, a death certificate must be furnished as well.
VA may request copies of other documents, but, generally, providing sufficient information on the claim form will satisfy the need for other documentation. If an applicant for Pension is younger than 65, medical evidence of total disability must also be submitted. Total disability for 65 and older is not a requirement for death Pension. The effective date is generally the day VA receives an original application. If it takes three months for the process of approval or six months, it doesn't matter.
The effective date still reverts to receipt of the original application. Generally, payments start on the first day of the month following the month of the effective date.
This means that if it took six months to get approval, at least five months of benefit will be paid retroactively. VA requires automatic deposit of awards in a checking or savings account. If the veteran dies during the period of application and the application was not approved prior to the death, there may be accrued benefits. If the regional office had all of the information in its possession that would have led to an approval, then there is an accrued benefit payable.
Otherwise there is none. If a claimant dies while a claim or appeal for any benefit under a law administered by the Secretary is pending, a living person who would be eligible to receive accrued benefits due to the claimant under section a of this title may, not later than one year after the date of the death of the claimant, request to be substituted as the claimant for the purposes of processing the claim to completion.
A new claim for death pension can also be started using VA Form ez. For a veteran who is considered incompetent to handle his own financial affairs, VA will appoint a fiduciary to receive the money and pay the bills. A federal fiduciary is an individual appointed for this purpose, usually a spouse or a family member. In most cases -- except for the spouse living with the veteran -- there is an interview required and paperwork.
This process can take a long time, and it is to the advantage of the person filing an original claim to request the appointment of himself or herself as a fiduciary or for some other appropriate person or organization to act as a fiduciary in order to help expedite the process.
VA always makes the final decision on whom it appoints as a fiduciary. In fact, the agency might well ignore court appointed fiduciaries. In general, the decision favors declaring the veteran competent and avoiding a fiduciary where at all possible. Compensation is paid for service-connected disabilities; whereas, Pension is paid to veterans who are disabled because of non-service-connected causes. Compensation is meant to compensate a veteran for loss of income due to the disability.
Pension is meant to provide more income to low income, disabled, active duty veterans who served during a period of war. The veteran can choose the larger of either benefit but cannot have both. If the veteran is receiving military retirement or has received other reimbursement related to military service, those monies will be reduced by the amount of Compensation. Pension does not reduce military retirement. For veteran families with expensive home care services, assisted living, or nursing home costs, Pension is could be the larger benefit.
A recent survey by VA found that a large percentage of older veterans had never applied for Compensation but could be eligible based on injuries or illnesses incurred while they were in the service. A veteran can apply for these benefits at any time. Many veterans are receiving Compensation, but their disability related to service may have become worse.
They can apply for a higher disability rating and thus more money at any time. There are also additional benefits for veterans who may have lost limbs, eyesight, hearing, or the use of other parts of their body. A veteran cannot receive Compensation and military retirement at the same time. Generally, the veteran will waive a portion of military retirement that equals Compensation because retirement is taxable and Compensation is not. This new law is being phased in over a 9-year period.
If the household income adjusted for medical expenses is greater than the maximum allowable Pension rate -- MAPR -- there is no benefit. Survivor Pension rates are lower. People seeking a benefit with adjusted incomes greater than these levels will be denied. It has to do with the treatment by VA of the very large recurring medical costs associated with home care, assisted living, or nursing home care.
This amount goes up every December 1 with inflation. We have already discussed the requirements for power of attorney and fiduciary if they apply. In addition, an original copy of the discharge from service -- typically DD or form WD -- is required and the discharge must have been other than dishonorable.
If there is a question about the marriage relationship, a marriage certificate or other proof may be necessary.
Birth certificates of dependent children are usually not required but may be necessary under certain conditions. A dependent child is a minor, a dependent student under age 23, or a totally dependent adult child.
There are certain documents that need to be submitted to prove future recurring medical expenses and to prove need for aid and attendance or housebound allowances. VA does not furnish these documents nor provide any information that they are required. Federal code and VA regulations prohibit an agent or attorney from charging a fee to fill out an application prior to denial of an appeal.
Some practitioners or providers help their clients for free, sometimes in the context of solving other retirement issues or providing long term care services. Some practitioners offer advice for a fee but will send their clients to a veterans' service organization to complete the application. Charging a fee for advice not related to assistance with a claim for benefits appears to be an acceptable practice allowed by VA.
The applicant must submit details on the application of all income and all assets including retirement savings accounts such as IRAs. Almost any type of money received or anything received that can be converted into money is income.
The only exclusions for assets are a personal residence and a reasonable amount of land it sits on as well as vehicles and other personal possessions. Personal possessions used as an investment such as a coin collection are counted as assets.
Unreimbursed medical expenses can be almost any expense related to medical needs.
1.14. VA Form 21-2680 Request for Aid and Attendance/Housebound Status
How do you Apply for the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit?