In recognition and honor of Veterans’ Day, my next few columns will address a benefit that is available to some armed forces veterans in need. This benefit currently provides single veterans who qualify up to $1788 of tax free cash assistance per month. A married veteran can potentially receive up to $2120 per month.
The benefits to which I am referring are called “improved pension benefits.” They are available to qualified veterans or, if the veteran is deceased, to a surviving spouse. Significantly, there is no requirement that the veteran have a service connected injury or disability.
Similar to Medicaid, the recipient may be entitled to benefits by establishing a health need and a financial need. However, unlike Medicaid, improved pension benefits are a cash disbursement made directly to the recipient to be used as the recipient chooses.
The standard to qualify for improved pension benefits is different than the standard to qualify for Medicaid long term care benefits. Therefore, if not addressed carefully, it is possible that attempting to qualify for one benefit can disqualify the recipient from qualifying for the other.
To complicate matters further, the VA has proposed new regulations which will make significant changes to the qualifications for improved pension benefits. It is anticipated that these regulations will become effective early next year.
Despite these challenges, this is an important benefit that can significantly assist veterans or their spouses. Every veteran should at least consider whether this is a viable option. The same is true for surviving spouses of deceased veterans.
There are three levels of pension benefits available. In addition to basic pension benefits, supplemental amounts may be awarded to qualified veterans who are housebound or who require the aid of another person to perform certain activities of daily living.
Starting with my next column, I will address how a veteran (or surviving spouse) qualifies for improved pension benefits.
© 2015 Steven J Wright