VA Disability & Retirement Pay
United States military personnel spend their careers serving their country and making it safe for all who live here. Once military members leave service and become veterans, they are entitled to certain benefits through the Veterans Administration (VA) as continued compensation for all they have done to improve the lives of the people of the United States. Two of the most common types of benefits that are available to veterans are disability benefits and retirement benefits. The information below give a brief overview of each of these.
Disability benefits are available for veterans who have suffered a severe illness or injury as a direct result of military service. Veterans who had an existing condition that was made worse due to military service are also eligible for these benefits.
People who are eligible for disability benefits include former service member and their qualified dependents.
Common Conditions That are Covered by Disability Benefits
Some of the most common conditions that qualify for disability benefits include the following:
- – Chronic back pain that turns into a diagnosed back injury
- – Breathing problems that result in a chronic lung condition
- – Severe loss of hearing
- – Built-up scar tissue
- – Loss of range of motion resulting in difficulty moving the body
- – Ulcers
- – Cancers caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or other dangerous situations
- – Traumatic brain injury
- – Post-traumatic stress disorder
- – Depression
- – Anxiety
To see a complete list of covered conditions, please click here.
Assigning Disability Ratings
Every disability claim that the VA receives is assigned a disability rating. The ratings range from 0%-100%, and are based on the severity of the condition. The primary information the VA uses to assign a rating is the medical evidence that is provided with each claim. Examples of medical evidence include:
- – Doctor’s reports
- – Medical test results
- – Information from federal agencies
A presumed disability to be one that has been diagnosed by a doctor and the VA believes to be related to a Veteran’s military service because of specific aspects of service. These illnesses are usually chronic and appear within one year after leaving service. They may also be conditions or illnesses brought about by exposure to certain toxic or hazardous materials.
Veterans are also entitled to retirement benefits.
To be eligible for retirement benefits, a veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty service and at least one day of active wartime service. If your service began before September 7, 1980, you must have served at least 24 months or the entire time you were called to active duty, plus one day of active wartime duty.
Besides the longevity of service, a veteran must also meet at least one of the following qualifications to receive retirement benefits:
- – Discharge from the service must not have been dishonorable
- – At least age 65
- – Be totally or permanently disabled
- – Living in a nursing home and receiving skilled nursing care
- – Be receiving Social Security disability insurance
- – Be the recipient of Supplemental Security Income
How to Apply for a VA Pension
The first step in applying for a VA pension is to download and complete VA form 21P-527EZ. The completed form can be mailed to the Pension Management Center (PMC) that serves your state. If you do not wish to mail your completed application, it can be submitted in person to your local regional benefit office. A listing of all local regional offices can be found by clicking here.
Family Income Limits
Since a VA retirement pension is meant to help families with low incomes meet their financial needs, veterans must meet income requirements based on the family make-up or living situation.
The VA determines payment rates by calculating the difference between your countable family income and the annual income that meets your living situation. In most cases, the total benefit amount is divided into 12 equal parts and distributed to recipients every month.
Aid and Attendance (A&A)
Aid and attendance is an additional benefit that may be paid with a retirement pension or on its own. Veterans must meet the following qualifications to receive A&A benefits:
- – The veteran needs the assistance of another person to perform everyday living activities
- – The veteran’s injuries require he or she must remain in bed as part of treatment
- – The veteran is in a nursing home due to physical or mental incapacity
- – The veteran is blind or nearly blind
Veterans can receive housebound benefits in addition to monthly retirement benefits. To qualify for housebound benefits, a veteran must meet the following qualifications:
- – The veteran is 100% disabled, which confines him or her to the home
- – The veteran is 100% disabled due to one condition and at least 60% disabled due to another