HOST OF BENEFITS OFFERED
There are a number of benefits that the Federal Veterans Administration offers to eligible veterans and their families. While the vast majority of benefits require an eligible veteran or his/her spouse to obtain benefits, there are some limited circumstances when the children, including adult children, may be eligible. Children born with a number of ailments, although mainly spina bifida and conditions secondary to spina bifida, that are direct biological issue of a veteran of the Vietnam war era and who served in country may be eligible for a disability pension. Children of medal of honor winners receive a host of benefits throughout their lifetime, although not all of them are administered by the Veterans Administration. For veterans or their spouses, while not exhaustive, the main benefits that most veterans apply for and receive are:
- a military retirement; or
- Disability compensation; or
- Housebound pension; or
- Aid and Attendance pension; or
- Basic pension/Improved income; or
Each has it’s own rules that sometimes conflict with the ability of the veteran and/or their spouse to receive other benefits. The first listed benefit, the military retirement, is the most simple program to explain and understand. If and when a service member serves 20 years in the service they become eligible for a pension. The exact formula to determine how much they earn, when it vests and at what age the veteran can start to receive the money is determined by a formula. Compensation for a service related disability is also relatively straightforward and easy to understand. Once an injury is established as service related the Veterans Administration must make a determination as to how severe the injury is. Unfortunately not all disabilities can be seen and not so easily diagnosed. Oftentimes Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) can be debilitating but can be masked by other features that mask the diagnosis, such as heavy alcohol use. It may appear as if the alcohol is the primary cause of certain features and traits, although the alcohol usage is actually secondary to the PTS.
There may be some confusion as to the difference between the housebound pension and the aid and attendance pension. They are unique, distinct programs, targeted for different populations. There are certain qualifications that need to be met for both programs. First, the veteran must be eligible for a pension, that means that he/she must have been discharged in other than dishonorable conditions (honorable discharge, general discharge, medical discharge, et cetera), served at least 90 days total and at least one of those days must have been during a wartime, the family income must be below a certain threshold and either 65 or older or, if younger than 65, permanently or totally disabled, not due to your own misconduct.
The housebound pension is a pension that is paid to veterans or their spouse, when the veteran has at least a 100 percent disability rating and cannot leave the home. The aid and attendance pension, on the other hand, is when either the veteran or the spouse requires help with daily activities at home, a nursing home or an assisted living facility. The cause for the assistance does not have to be related to the veteran’s military service as is required with a housebound pension. There are minimum income and asset tests that the veteran and his/her spouse must meet.