Your yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the Survivors Pension benefit. If eligible, your pension benefit is the difference between your "countable" income and the annual pension limit set by Congress. VA generally pays this difference in 12 equal monthly payments.
Countable income includes income from most sources as well as from any eligible dependents. It generally includes earnings, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividend payments from annuities, and net income from farming or a business. Some expenses, such as unreimbursed medical expenses, may reduce your countable income.
Net worth includes assets such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, and any property other than your residence and a reasonable lot area. You should report all of your net worth. VA will determine whether your assets are of a sufficiently large amount that you could live off of them for a reasonable period of time.
If, for example, the annual income limit on December 1, 2005, for a spouse without a dependent, as set by Congress, is $7,094 and your income is $6,000, your VA Survivors Pension will be $1,094 ($7,094 - $6,000 = $1,094) paid in monthly installments.
A portion of your unreimbursed medical expenses (what you paid out of pocket after medical insurance pays) may reduce your countable income. You can apply the portion of your unreimbursed medical expenses only if the expenses exceed 5% of the maximum annual rate allowed by Congress. Using the example above for an income of $6,000:
If your medical expenses for a year are $8,000 and your medical insurance pays $6,400 of that, your unreimbursed medical expense is ($8,000 - $6,400) $1,600.
Warning: Pension recipients at risk of financial exploitation.
This is a warning about dishonest individuals who prey on those who receive pension benefits with regular aid and attendance. There have been reports of scam artists targeting and taking advantage of Veterans receiving these benefits.
Veterans Crisis Line:
1-800-273-8255 (Press 1)
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs | 810 Vermont Avenue, NW Washington DC 20420
Last updated October 22, 2013