Does any part of a VA widows pension amount have to be repaid under current laws?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Does any part of a VA widows pension amount have to be repaid under current laws? My father died June 12, 2007. He was a WWII veteran and was at the VA home before he died in the hospital. They told my mother about the VA widows pension and even filled all her papers out for her so she could get the pension. She gets $592 from pension and $1,090 a month for Social Security . She told her neighbor about this pension and when her neighbor went to sign up they said she did not qualify becuase she made too much Social Security, which was $641.00 a month. The gentleman filled all my mother's papers out right and gave the right figures and she got her $592 a month from the VA pension. We are worried now that the VA made a mistake and she will have to pay all the money she got back. Was there a new rule that was put in after 2007? She put in for this October 2007 and got a check in June of 2008 (one year after my dad's death) and now another check for $592 in July; the other was all back pay for the year after his death. My mother is so worried because she lives by herself in another state and is 79 years old. Thank you.

Expert Answer

If she provided her correct Social Security number and filled out the VA forms correctly, she shouldn't worry about the money she has already received. But there is no guaranty that she will continue receiving the VA pension amount, even though no new law affects these particular pension rules.

From your father's history and the amount she is receiving from the VA, it sounds like she's getting survivor's benefits from what the VA calls a "Wartime Service Pension." This can be paid to the surviving spouse of a veteran who served on active duty during wartime. But this particular VA pension only goes to a surviving spouse who has low income, including Social Security benefits. The amount of allowable income, which changes every year, is quite low but does not count as income amounts that have to be spent on medical care. So, when your mother first applied for the VA survivor's benefit, her income, minus her medical expenses, must have fallen under the line to qualify for the pension. However, if her income (minus medical expenses) later climbs over the yearly allowable limit, she could lose that pension.

You can find the specific rules of these survivor's pensions, and how they calculate yearly income and pension amounts, by going to the VA's specialĀ web site page on spouses' pension benefits.