Veterans Benefits: Financial Help for Veterans and Their Survivors

Image by chefranden used under the creative commons attribution license.

If you're caring for a veteran, it's good to know that numerous veterans benefits programs from the Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) can provide financial support to a veteran, his or her spouse, and survivors. Even if he hasn't claimed veterans benefits before, his age, physical condition, or low income may now qualify him for financial help. By assisting him in the application process, you may be able to help improve his quality of life or benefit his survivors.

How to determine if a veteran qualifies for financial benefits

"Service-connected disabilities" can first show up when a veteran ages. Many of the financial veterans benefits available from the V.A. are payable only if a veteran has what's called a service-connected disability. "Disability" means a physical, mental, or emotional condition that limits or prevents a veteran from performing some normal, everyday activities; "service-connected" means that the condition was caused while the veteran was in the military. But the veteran need not have actually become disabled while in the military.

For many veterans, a condition that began decades before in the military only becomes disabling as they age. If so, a veteran may qualify for service-connected disability benefits whenever the condition actually becomes disabling.

Compensation may be approved even if a disability is small or only appeared recently. Someone who served in the military may have a disability that has recently begun to limit his ability to perform normal daily activities. If the problem was caused by something that happened when he was in the military, the condition is service-connected.

If so, he may be eligible for a monthly disability compensation payment. When he applies, the V.A. will give his disabling condition a rating, starting at 10 percent or higher and moving up in 10-percent increments:

  • The lowest rating (10 percent disability) pays $117 per month.
  • The highest rating (100 percent disabled) pays $2,527 a month.
  • If the veteran is housebound or needs regular in-home care (called "aid and attendance"), the monthly amount can be higher.
  • If an older veteran has a 30-percent rating or higher, his spouse is eligible for additional monthly benefits.
  • Older, low-income wartime veterans may qualify for a V.A. pension. A veteran aged 65 or older may be eligible for a monthly V.A. pension if all of the following apply:
  • He has a low income.
  • He had 90 days or more of active military service.
  • At least one day of his active service was during a "period of war" (World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War), though the veteran need not have been in combat.

The amount of the pension varies depending on need but can be as much as $930 per month for an individual or $1,220 per month for a couple. If the veteran is permanently housebound, his individual monthly benefits could be as high as $1,137 per month. If the veteran needs regular in-home assistance, he can get a pension of up to $1,555 per month (plus more for a spouse).

The V.A. may supply loans or grants to buy or refinance a home or to modify a home or car. The V.A. offers veterans benefits in the form of several types of loans and loan guarantees to help veterans buy or refinance a home or condominium. For some veterans with service-connected disabilities, the V.A. also gives Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grants to pay for modifications to a home to adapt it to help compensate for their disability. These grants may also be available to modify the home of a family member with whom the veteran lives. A similar grant is available for some veterans to modify a car.

Veterans benefits for survivors

Veterans benefits for surviving family members may be available. There are several veterans benefits payable to a deceased veteran's surviving spouse. One benefit is also available for the surviving, low-income parents of certain veterans. These survivors benefits include:

  • Death pension. A veteran's spouse who has a very low income may qualify for a pension, as long as she didn't remarry. The veteran must have had 90 days or more of active military service, at least one day of which -- combat or not -- was during a period of war. The pension can be up to $625 per month, depending on financial need. The amount can go higher for a surviving spouse who is housebound or who needs regular in-home assistance.
  • Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC). A DIC pension of at least $1,091 a month, and more than twice that much for some, is available for the surviving spouse of certain veterans. DIC benefits are also available to the surviving parents of these veterans if the parents have a very low income.
  • For a survivor to qualify for DIC payments, the deceased veteran must have met one of the following requirements:
  • Died while on active duty
  • Died from an injury or di sease incurred while on active duty or on inactive duty training, or
  • Had a 100 percent-rated service-connected disability for ten years prior to death, or for five years from date of discharge to death

How to apply for veterans benefits

How to help a veteran apply for veterans benefits. There are several ways to get further information about, and to apply for, veterans benefits. First, there's a general toll-free phone service, at 800-827-1000. Advisers can answer questions and direct you to a nearby V.A. benefits of fice, as well as start a benefits application for the veteran.

You can also get more information about specific veterans benefits by going to the V.A.'s website .

You can help a veteran apply for some benefits directly online at the V.A. website's online application page . Or you and the veteran you're caring for can make an appointment to talk to a V.A. benefits counselor in person at a local V.A. benefits office. To find a veterans benefits office near you, go the V.A. website's office locator page .


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13 days ago, said...

My father passed away 2 years ago. Before his death he was waiting on some retro payment for his disability in November/ December. He never received it and passed away in January. My mom and dad were divorced for only a year before his death but had been married for over 30 years and he was in the navy for 30 years. I am his executive of estate and all my appeals have been denied the money that was owed to my father. Who or where can I get the information that he was owed the money to appeal my case.

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about 1 month ago, said...

87 year old male lost wife of 65 years and a Vet ! What finances available to hire sibling to care for needs now. Lost $661 from spouse

about 1 month ago, said...

VFW promised to get my benefits for hearing, over 3 years ago, I cannot apply for anything else until they are done.........creeps!! Dont use them out of portland oregon I was stabbed in the chest, knocked off the fly one on the US INTREPID into the gun tubs, BROKE my ankle in Newfoundland, had two hernia operations and did two more. Tried to fix my nose. Gave me lousy hearing aid...but I am 30 percent for leaking kidney into my bladder. What a mess. The US Navy said that helments on the Catapults were faulty. So far nothing.

about 1 month ago, said...

Hello, my father, now deceased had back binnifits I am now disabled due to mental health and server back problems. I have just had surgery on my back and have been fighting SSI disability for more than a year. Are there any benefit available to me through va?

about 1 month ago, said...

I can not find any information on a subject I often question. my dad & mom were not married at the time I was born 3/20/48 they wed on 6/9/49. I was raised until his death without his last name, then the lawyer refused to recognize me as his legit, child the 4 younger kids all got monthly checks until they turned 18 -. I never receive a cent, I was told this could be corrected. I have cancer and have had to have 30 radiation treatment and it is time for me to see if I will start Chemo soon or have to have more surgery then chemo. IF it is true that I am entitled to funds they would greatly solve some of my problems. Judy Metts

2 months ago, said...

My husband has Parkinson's that was diagnosed in 2008. VA claims it was not due to Agent Orange. He has not seen any doctors at the VA to determine this diagnosis. He is being treated by a neurologist at the University of Florida Movement Center. According to the VA he does not have the correct diagnosis to qualify. After a fall in October 2014 he was put in a rehab facility. After 2 months the ,facility decided he had plateaued and would be moved to a long term unit. The original cost $2400.00 was adjusted to $6000.00. At that point, he was moved to a 12x12 room that housed 2 adult men. At that point he was not receiving any type of skilled nursing. According to the facility he did not qualify for skilled nursing. I had been told by the business office, if he reached 60% or higher in compensation his fees would be retroactively changed back to the lower amount. It was determined in April 2014 that his disability was 70%. On May 28, 2015 I paid $20,000.00 to the facility. On July 27, 2015 my husband was released from the facility based on the fact "I want to go home." The social worker on the case said he "does not have dementia." She claimed he was perfectly fine. This release was 3 days after I was told he was being released.. According to the law, 30 days notice is required. He has been in .an assisted living facility since he was released. And now I am being told he needs long term care and the cost has jumped back to $6,000.00 per month. Now I don't know what to do as VA says he does not have the right Parkinson's,s. I need someone to explain this. As I stated earlier, he has not been seen by a neurologist from VA. I have been told determination is done by non doctors. Just like the social worker who decided my husband does not have dementia! Please lead me to someone who can help.

2 months ago, said...

What happens to the GI Bill if my son being a veteran passed away in a car accident and didn't use much of it?

3 months ago, said...

My Dad is a 90 year old world war 2 vet with dementia and his spouse is blind He has a gm pension but still cant afford a cna or in home help to drive and misc care

3 months ago, said...

My father a WWII veteran, recently purchased a home so that my family and I can care for him. He is 100% disabled He purchased the home with a VA loan. My family is beginning to put roots down with their youth groups, schools, etc. My wife and I pay the mortgage of the house, as our family is living in the majority of the house.. When my dad passes, (it be tomorrow or in 10 years, my wife and I are wondering if we will be able to continue making payments and stay in the home..

3 months ago, said...

My ex husband is 40% disabled and we have 2 kids together. Someone told me my kids r intitled to some of the money he gets. I have full custody. Is this true?

5 months ago, said...

I am a vet. I am 100% disabled through Social Security, not the VA yet. I am about to get married and she has two young children. Will they all be eligible for medical benifits?

5 months ago, said...

If my son was in the military and discharged honorably, but has since been diagnosed with PTSA and is have trouble finding Employment. Do his parents get financial aide if it he is totally supported by them?