The AZ Veteran’s Pension – General eligibility requirements
Veteran’s Pension is a cash benefit that is available to qualifying veterans. Pension is needs bases, so an applicant’s income and resources are determinants in whether the VA will approve his application for benefits. Before getting to financial requirements, however, a veteran must meet the following general criteria:
- He or she must have been discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions.
- The veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military service, at least one day of which was during a wartime period.
- The veteran must be age 65 or older, or permanently and totally disabled, or already be in receipt of Social Security Disability.
Arizona Veterans must meet financial requirements to qualify for Pension. The VA does not impose a hard and fast limit on resources, but its rules prohibit those with “excessive” net worth from receiving the benefit. So, while it is true that resource limits are not well defined, applicants are regularly denied benefits for having too many resources. An Arizona veteran’s benefit attorney can help veterans determine whether their resources may raise an issue with the VA, and can even help veterans arrange their affairs in preparation for the application.
In addition to a resource limit, the VA also imposes a limit on the amount of income veterans who apply for Pension may have. Unlike the resource limit, however, the income limit is clearly defined. In order to qualify for Pension, veterans must meet the following income requirements:
- Single veterans without children cannot have annual income exceeding $11,830.
- Veterans with one dependent cannot have annual income exceeding $15,493.
- Veterans who are housebound without dependents cannot have income exceeding $14,457.
- Veterans who are housebound with one dependent cannot have income exceeding $18,120.
- Veterans who are married to another veteran cannot have income exceeding $15,493.
While these figures may seem somewhat low, veterans may exclude some forms of income and take certain deductions. For instance, the VA does not count SSI and other public assistance as income. Also, veterans may deduct a portion of their unreimbursed medical expenses from their income. By making these preparations with a qualified veterans benefit attorney, Pension applicants may effectively reduce their countable income to help them qualify for the benefit. It is always important for veterans to take as many exclusions and deductions as possible, as doing so will increase their Pension amount.
Taking medical deductions
Veterans should always work with an Arizona veterans benefit attorney to calculate their medical expense deductions. In many instances, this type of planning qualifies applicants for AZ veteran’s benefits who would not otherwise be eligible. Even applicants who already qualify for Pension can increase the amount they receive each month by taking the proper deductions. Because of the large impact that deductions can have on a Pension amount, veterans should never submit an application for Pension without carefully reviewing their medical expenses.
There is quite a bit to keep in mind when deducting medical expenses. Veterans may only deduct un-reimbursed medical expenses, and only after those expenses exceed a certain limit. Also, AZ veterans cannot deduct medical expenses covered by insurance, although they may deduct premiums and copays. These complexities make it quite easy for first-time applicants to make an accounting error when calculating their deduction, which could lead the VA to deny their application. To protect against this, veterans applying for AZ veteran’s benefits should seek the assistance of an Arizona veterans benefit attorney who understands the deduction process.
The approval process
Perhaps due to the substantial number of applicants for Arizona veteran’s benefits, the VA is notoriously slow at processing Pension applications. In some instances, it takes the VA even as long as a year to provide an applicant with a response. If a veteran’s application is approved, however, the VA will pay a retroactive check back to the original date of claim. On the other hand, applicants who are denied benefits may have to begin the entire process anew, even if the eligibility issue can readily be resolved. As such, it is quite important that applicants undertake the application process with a veteran’s benefit attorney who may help them avoid missing pension installments to which they are entitled.