Veterans Benefits: Financial Help for Veterans and Their Survivors

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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 or she hasn't claimed veterans benefits before, the vet's age, physical condition, or low income may now qualify him or her for financial help. By assisting the veteran in the application process, you may be able to help them improve their quality of life or benefit their 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 or she was in the military, the condition is service-connected.

If so, he or she may be eligible for a monthly disability compensation payment. When the vet applies, the V.A. will give his or her 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 or her 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 the veteran's active service was during a "period of war" (World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War), though he or she 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 or she 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 .

 


Joseph L. Matthews

Joseph Matthews is an attorney and the author of numerous books, including Social Security, Medicare, and Government Pensions, Long-Term Care: How to Plan and Pay for It; How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim; and The Lawyer Who Blew up His Desk. See full bio


12 days ago, said...

Where are the answers to all of the questions from everyone here on this site?


25 days ago, said...

My husband was a veteran and passed away 6 years ago...do I qualify to received his benefits?


27 days ago, said...

My father - a Korean War Vet passed away in November 2009, leaving my mother widowed with only Social Security Benefits to live on. My mother's health has been fairly good until recently and now she needs some in home assistance to help with her daily activities. My question: does she qualify for any type of assistance from the VA to help pay for in home care?


about 1 month ago, said...

Hi, I have a few questions. My dad is a 90 year old disabled vet from WWII. He recently was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that is ravaging his body with pain and weakness. My 84 year mom is unable to care for him 24/7 and we are not able to be there 24/7 either. On July 4th we moved him to a full care facility, which is very expensive and will delete their meager savings rapidly. Are there any benefits available to help them reduce this expense? He is currently in hospice care, but we have to pay for the facility out of pocket. My second question- Is mom eligible for his 60% disability check after my dad passes? If so, how does she apply for that? Are there other benefits for my mom or dad that we should be aware of? Thanks so much for any information you can provide. Have a good day, Lisa


about 1 month ago, said...

i am a 44 year old female--never married. Can I get veterans benefits, or is it just for spouses? My father passed away several years ago. He was in the Vietnam war and worked with agent orange. We believe that it caused some health problems for him, and quite possibly some for me, because I was born after he returned from the war.


about 1 month ago, said...

I am 100 per cent veteran. Is my son eligible for VA benefits, as he is disabled and will soon be 18?


about 1 month ago, said...

Aid and attendance for a 30% service connected vet who has vascular dementia???


about 1 month ago, said...

I am getting married to a veteran with a low income and would like some information on benefits for a spouse were do I began to apply


2 months ago, said...

Yes my father was a 100% disabled veteran and he passed away in 2001 well my mother was getting a check from the veterans for around 1800 a month my mother just recently passed and I am 52 yrs old I'm pretty much homeless am staying with a friend can't work due to my disability I've applied and have been turned down three times now..What I was wondering was am I now eligible for any of those moneys or healthcare and prescription care from the veterans I can not even go to Dr for I have no health insurance is there any help I might be able to receive from the veterans.


3 months ago, said...

My husband is a Korean War combat vet and I am in my late 70's and unwell. We just need some one who could help with light house keeping and his meds is there such a program


3 months ago, said...

I need a service that helps families of veterans that are not wartime veterans, but have still served their country. My husband died in 2016. I took care of him from time of his illness to the time of his death. Now I am homeless and my daughter's section 8 is being taken away, even though her father put her name on the lease and the voucher for the section 8. I am physically disable and my daughter only works part time. Trying to help me and her younger brother. She needs that section 8 back, in order to help pay for the, which is $1,500.00. With the section 8 her rent was $550.00, of which I paid $275.00 and she paid $275.00. Right now she owes almost $8,000.00 in back rent. Please help! We need that section.


4 months ago, said...

I receive survivors VA Pension as my deceased husband was in the Navy. He died of a massive coronary two years after retirement. Can I claim additional benefits if he served during the Vietnam Warm?


4 months ago, said...

My father was a Vietnam vet. I am now 36 years old and he passed in 1994 when I was 14. He was disabled for many years prior to his death but I am unsure if it was service related. My mothers English is limited and I just become aware that we may have been able to get assistance for college. Would I be able to get help on my student loan if I would have qualified at the time I went to school? Thank you in advance.


5 months ago, said...

Can grandson whom I have legal custody get benefits if I die?


6 months ago, said...

I'm a daughter of a Vietnam vet who now has passed away was a 100%service connection was on homebound care Wich I provided my father until he passed away at home in my arms, I am disabled and I need to get disability


6 months ago, said...

My stepdaughter grandfather was a WW2 veteran. Is she eligible for any benefits?


6 months ago, said...

i also want to know if you were married to a vet for 14 years and he now receives va benefits are the kids entitled to any of the compensation?


6 months ago, said...

My son's wife was his caregiver and collected more than 2000 a month. Meanwhile, she didn't pay his bills and now the money is no where to be found to pay these debts. She received a letter stating they were ending her stipend. Is there a way to recover this money?


8 months ago, said...

Can I carry my eighty-year-old father on my hundred percent disability


8 months ago, said...

Can a disabled non veteran adult get any benefits if his father was a veteran? He has had a stroke and could use an electric chair to get around, or foodstamps or would he be eligible for cash benefits? Thanknyou.


11 months ago, said...

My step daughter is twenty and wanting to go to college her father was a veteran and since has died can she get any help through the va


about 1 year ago, said...

What benefits can my wife be qualified for thru my military service. I served during the Vietnam War and am now retired and would like to get any help for.medial needs.she's not mentally able to take care of herself, and I need any benefits that'll help me take care of her. Thanks


about 1 year ago, said...

I was in accident which killed my husband and another servicemember, april 1986 I'm 100% service connected what are my medical/mental rights not only as a surviving spouse also a auto passenger


about 1 year 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.