When Veterans and their family members think of VA benefits – the first thoughts that typically come to mind are VA’s educational benefits, compensation and health care benefits, or home loan benefits. Many don’t realize that VA also offers a benefit that can assist qualifying war-time Veterans and their survivors. As our country’s Veteran and surviving spouse population grows older and ailments worsen, it’s important for Veterans and their families to know about the benefits available to them from VA.

VA pension is an income-based benefit offered to qualifying Veterans and their survivors. The amount of pension payable is based on the Veteran’s or survivor’s family income. VA may be able to deduct out-of-pocket medical expenses from income, including but not limited to amounts paid to nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and for in-home care. Additionally, if VA determines a Veteran or surviving spouse is housebound or requires the aid and attendance of another person, he or she may be entitled a higher rate of VA Pension.


  1. With some exceptions, the Veteran must have served on active duty:
  • Veterans who served on or before September 7, 1980 must have 90 continuous days of service with at least one of those days during wartime
  • Veterans who served after September 7, 1980, must have served at least 24 months or the full period they were called up
  1. Veterans must either be:
  • age 65 or older or
  • permanently and totally disabled

***VA assumes a Veteran to be permanently and totally disabled if the Veteran is a patient in a nursing home or found disabled by the Social Security Administration. There are no disability or age criteria for survivors.

  1. Veterans and surviving spouses must meet income and net worth criteria.


Though there are various ways to apply for VA pension, the fastest way to apply is online through https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ebenefits/vonapp.

If you still have questions, a VA representative or Veterans service organization may be able to help. You can also comment below!

About the video producer: Gail McCabe is the Executive Director at CreativeMediaMatters, following a 30 year career with the Department of Defense.  Gail is an inductee into the Army Public Affairs Hall of Fame, a recipient of the Secretary of Defense’s Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service, and is a two-time recipient of the Defense of Freedom Award for injuries sustained covering combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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Published on Jul. 28, 2016

Estimated reading time is 2 min.

Views to date: 213


  1. Barbara Hunter August 8, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    My 85 year-old father finally received a 100% disability rating last year. My 80 year-old mother is his primary caregiver. She was told she was eligible for in-home aid as long as she hires an agency, not an individual, to accommodate this care. Long story short, she is on her second agency now and the care is horrendous. The sitters frequently are no-shows, and when they do show up, they basically sit on the sofa and play on their phones. They don’t engage my dad in conversation and only go through the motions of rendering care when my mom specifies what they need to do for him…ie; give him a drink of water, bathe him, change his sheets, change his diaper, etc. They don’t seem to be prepared to deliver even the most basic daily care needs. As a result, Mom is scared to leave Dad alone with them. My poor mother is sleep-deprived and worn out from trying to care for Dad 24/7. She is allowed 4 hours of “aid” per day, but not consecutively. The sitters are only allowed to stay for 2 hours at a time. That doesn’t allow my mother the time necessary to grocery shop or attend to her own needs, such as medical appointments. God forbid she should want to go to the hair salon for a perm. She has canceled more medical appointments than I care to think about and has not renewed her own meds; all in an effort to make sure she is available for Dad. When the sitters can’t or don’t show up, the agency never calls Mom and never sends a replacement sitter. This is unacceptable. My brother and I live in other states, but we take turns coming home to give her some relief. I am currently with her on a one-month stay. With all this being said, my question is this…Why can’t she hire a qualified individual to serve as an aid for Dad with VA funds? It would make sense to hire someone who could stay for more than two hours at a time and would be reliable enough to actually show up! Why can’t this be done? And if it can, please tell me where I can start the process and drop these awful local agencies. Thank you.

  2. Ledina W Beckner July 31, 2016 at 2:39 am

    Hi I am Ledina Beckner wife of the late Charles H Beckner and he was served in the navy from August 19,1958 to June 28,1962 my question is can I get benefits on my husbands record ? besides he was totally disabled under SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION . I was applied for DIC in Veterans in Manila but they denied me and the reason that my husband was not able to served during war time, is that true that is why the US Veterans in Manila denied my claims. And I have also a question can I get the VA Insurans on my husband’s record? THANK YOU SO MUCH.

    Ledina W. Beckner

  3. Les Jolley July 30, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    First I am a retired Vietnam era vet. I am making this statement not to degrade any bonified veterans status but to voice what I have seen for myself. I have seen a person rejoice because he had bone cancer in his leg (this guy never left Fort Sam) and only served 8 months before being forced out. He was e engine happier when his leg was removed. For some unknown reason this guy was entitled to VA benefits, his cancer was not an injury from service, he was not exposed to any chemistry and he served during peace time.
    Another fell from an oil well and spent his days clogging the VA system looking pitiful and trying to blame his fall on the military. He ate himself to 500 pound obesity and made his living sealing from Wal-Mart. Another strategy is to just keep going and sniveling to the VA who will eventually give up the benies.
    I know there are far more deserving vets than the bums but the bums clog the system and take up benefits that the humble deserving are oftimes reluctant to seek.
    I only want to offend the non deserving and would do anything it takes to satisfy the deserving. Liberals get angry but consider bonified vets deserve and most importantly have earned the benefits offered by the VA.

    I am Les Jolley MSG retired US ARMY

  4. Bob J. Lathim July 30, 2016 at 4:04 am

    I am already rated 100% by VA For Service Connected disabilities so my question would be,”is this benefit available on top of what I receive now?

    Thank you
    USMC Ret.
    Semper Fi

    • Mark Ledesma August 8, 2016 at 2:44 pm

      Hello Bob,

      Unfortunately, no. If you qualify for both pension and compensation – you must choose one or the other – you can’t receive both benefits at the same time. In your case, your compensation benefits would probably be greater than pension benefits. If you’re looking for additional assistance, you may want to look into Special Monthly Compensation (SMC). SMC is a higher rate of compensation paid due to special circumstances such as the need of aid and attendance by another person or by specific disability, such as loss of use of one hand or leg.

      I hope this helps. If you have additional questions, please comment below.

      Semper Fi,

  5. Marcelino Rodriguez July 29, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    The time VA takes to resolve claims, Notice of Disagreements and appeals before the BVA is amazing. Weeks, months and years go by and nothing is done. Some of my appeals are more than a year old. My notice of disagreements (NOD) are also close to a year old.

    Everytime I call the 800-827-1000 (if I can get through after dialing 20 times) the service representative reds to me from a standard theme telling me the same thing, over and over again.

    Also, I find the VA Health system to be retrograde and I use private physicians where I get healthcare that is of tremendous quality and fast. I went to the VA with an IBS problem and I got the runaround that prompted me to seek private physician care and was taken care of with endoscopy and colonoscopy in less than a week. How about that for service and care.

  6. JD Dorsey, Jr July 29, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    I think it is crazy that “aid and attendence” is not applied to me. I am 100%unemployability , 90 % disabled. I served in Korea 1959 1960. I drew combat pay the whole time. I was there when they ousted Sing Monree. With Ambulance at American Embassy. I was there after 1953. Before Vietnam. I saw combat there. Even watched the National Police shoot several middle school kids because they were throwing rocks. Shots fired all around me.
    Makes this one legged old man not eligible. I need it bad.
    Really SUCKS.

  7. Charles Nichols July 29, 2016 at 8:42 pm

    My mother in law is 89 and we submitted all information in September of last year… were denied for information we had already provided and have resubmitted with NO response. She has alzheimer’s and dementia and could pass away before seeing anything to help her quality of life in her final years, months (?). Her husband was a proud WWII Veteran who survived Normandy Beach. SO SAD! We’ve GOT to do better!

  8. Sheila Ullom July 29, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    They should change the DIC qualification for spouses of vet that have PTSD and have passed away. Now that they are more aware of this illness a person shouldn’t have to be totally and permanently disabled for 10 years is really unfair especially for older vets who took years to get the VA to help them.


    PS their are a lot of these people out there that have been denied. Congress should change this these men and women served their country and unfortunately they didn’t realize what their problem was for a long time.

  9. stanley raynor July 29, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    can’t get on to see the requirements. need another way. thanks.

    • Mark Ledesma August 8, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Stanley,

      Is this the link you’re looking for http://benefits.va.gov/pension/? Let me know if this helps.


  10. Alicia July 29, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    I applied for Voc-Rehab hoping to receive financial assistance to complete my doctoral degree since I am unable to secure employment. During my 12 minute interview, I verified information with my case manager, acknowledged I possess a masters degree, which he responded with ” you have a lot of education”. He typed for approximately 1 minute, and told me he would contact me with the results…interview completed! As he was about to escort me out of his office, I asked that I be considered for assistance to receive certifications or start a business if I have too much education that way with certifications a door will open for employment and a door will open for me to start an education based business for veterans. He opened the door wider, and escorted me out.

    This was not an interview, and just think tax dollars are paying such case managers to do nothing, or pretending to work applying basic critical thinking and decision making skills. Bottom line, I could have either been employed by now or had enough money to start a business, but instead I am seeking a shelter because I couldn’t get a job and have no money to get another apartment.

  11. Theresa Wren July 29, 2016 at 3:25 pm

    Why does it take so very long for the Vet to receive the pension benefits they are entitled to? In February 2016, my dad, who is 82 years old, applied for his VA pension and for a place at the VA home. We were told that for the pension it will take 12-18 months for a final approval for the pension. WHY? Why does it take so long? We provided all the proof needed that he served during war time and over seas, we provided all the required financial information and signed all the documents. I can’t understand why the process is so very difficult and cumbersome for a Vet to obtain the benefits he is entitled to for serving our country. And, the wait for the home is very lengthy as well. Why don’t we provide bigger facilities, with competent and sufficient staff. Why do we have homeless Vets?
    My dad broke his hip, and has dementia and was placed in a nearby nursing home (next door to the VA). The nursing home is over double the cost, because he does not have sufficient income we have had to use Medicaid which that in itself is a nightmare. And because they take everything but $50.00 he has no funds to pay any of his debt. Why does it take soooooo long? WHY?

  12. Lewis Strawser July 29, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    I am wondering why the employees at VA hospital and service places aren’t using a time clock to keep track of their time. I have been treated by the VA at three different hospitals and know all three hospitals don’t keep track of employees arrival at work or when taking breaks or lunch or departing time. They do have a job and some come late and leave early with no accountability.
    Like a country club setting!!

  13. lester c hassell July 29, 2016 at 1:05 pm



  14. Larry Dajnowski July 29, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    We appled and we denied said the VA said we received too much income.
    We receive $1000 from Social Security. $1000 a month is too much income!!
    Government promises but does not deliver.

  15. Bowman Marshall July 29, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Thanks for the website.

Comments are closed.

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