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VA Updates: Remembering Veterans on Veterans Day

The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor those who served in the Military. I call or email my Veteran friends, catch up, and thank them for their service. I display the flag and watch any military movie I can find. I also visit the graves of Veteran family or friends at Arlington National Cemetery, even though I know that’s much more the focus of Memorial Day.

Veterans Pension Program

One group of Veterans I find myself thinking about is elderly Veterans who, because of age or other reasons, aren’t as visible. The reason I bring this up is because an FAQ I often receive is about their possible benefits.  

Someone will ask about a distant Uncle who is a Veteran or the Veteran who is a neighbor, less active in the community but still nearby. A common theme is the concern that as the Veteran gets older, he may not have the resources to continue to support himself. The question then becomes – Is there a VA benefit that could help him.  

The VA benefit I direct them to is called Veterans Pension. This benefit is a tax-free monthly payment to those with limited financial resources, providing modest support that can be used for their expenses. Its not a true pension, which is really a retirement payout. VA pensions are safety net payments for those in need.

Eligibility depends upon several items and more detailed information can be found at VA.gov. One is service. The Veteran had to have served honorably during time periods defined as war time. (The Veteran did not have to have served in combat.)  Many older Veterans qualify because they served during the Vietnam Wartime period

Eligibility also depends on age and disability. For the simplicity, lets focus on age. A Veteran is eligible if they are 65 years old or older. If the Veteran meets this age requirement, he is eligible regardless of health.

Eligibility also depends on net worth. Through the end of November 2023, the Veteran’s net worth can not be greater than $150,538. Often at this point, many assume the Veteran they are concerned about is not eligible because he owns a home.  However, VA exempts certain items from the computation of net worth – your home, car, and basic home items like appliances. Consequently, the Veteran living in his home, but struggling due to limited resources, may be eligible.

To those who ask about an elderly Veteran, I point out that completing the application for a Veterans Pension can be complicated because of the need to validate net worth. This is where no-cost assistance from a Veteran Service Officer from your state, county or a Veteran Service Organization can be invaluable. Many lawyers can also assist with this process, though they will charge for their services.

Two other points about this situation. If the VA determines the Veteran is unable to manage his finances, they can appoint a Fiduciary. A Fiduciary is a person (or entity) who acts on the behalf of the Veteran, putting his interests ahead of their own. Thus, in the situation not only can a VA benefit provide financial support but it could also provide support to assist with their finances.

Supporting Surviving Spouses

Finally, here I have focused on an elderly male Veteran as this reflects the demographics of our military when they served. But I have also been asked about the wife of Veteran who has passed. Similarly, they are worried that she is depleting her resources and wonder if there is a VA benefit available to help her, given her husband was a Veteran. 

VA provides a Survivor Pension which would be relevant here. It provides a tax-free payment to the unremarried spouse or unmarried children of an eligible deceased Veteran. The deceased Veteran must meet the service and discharge requirements described above. The wife must also meet the net worth requirements. So, yes, under certain circumstances, just like the Veterans Pension, the Survivor Pension could assist the surviving wife.

I hope you have a meaningful Veterans Day and reconnect with your Veteran friends. Remembering that the average of a male Veteran is now 65, take a moment to think about an older Veteran in your life and whether some of the concerns others are asking about might be relevant to him.

About the Author Paul R. Lawrence

Paul R. Lawrence, Ph.D., served as Under Secretary of Benefits at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from May 2018 to January 2021. He is the author of “Veterans Benefits for You: Get what You Deserve,” available from Amazon.

Read About Other VA Updates

If you enjoyed learning about remembering veterans on Veterans Day, we invite you to read the stories of VA Updates on our blog. In addition to our profiles of celebrities who served, we share military book reviews, veterans’ service reflections, famous military units and more on the TogetherWeServed.com blog. If you are a veteran, find your military buddies, view historic boot camp photos, build a printable military service plaque, and more on TogetherWeServed.com today.


Tags: famous military units, Memorial Day, military book reviews, Survivor Pension, Veteran Service Organization, Veterans Day, Veterans Pension, veterans’ service reflections


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