Veteran's Benefits

What benefits are available for veterans?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a variety of benefits to eligible veterans and to their families through the Veterans Benefits Administration. These benefits range from medical care to pensions, and include education and training and burial assistance. Oregon offers additional benefits, including home loans and a partial property tax exemption for a disabled war veteran or the surviving spouse of a disabled war veteran. You can find general information about federal veterans’ benefits at http://www.benefits.va.gov/benefits/ and general information about state veterans’ benefits at http://www.oregon.gov/odva/benefits/pages/index.aspx.

Who is eligible for a VA pension?

In order to qualify for a VA pension, the veteran generally must meet the following requirements:

  • The veteran must have at least 90 days of active duty service, with at least one day

    occurring during a wartime period specifically identified by the VA. There are longer minimum active duty service requirements for veterans whose service began on or after September 8, 1980;

  • The veteran must have been discharged from military service under conditions other than dishonorable;

  • The veteran must be 65 or older or “permanently and totally disabled.” The veteran’s disability does not have to be connected to his or her service;

  • The veteran meet the income and asset criteria described below.

The Elder Law Firm helps clients understand the eligibility requirements for the different types of VA pension benefits and decide when to apply for those benefits.

What are the types of VA pensions?

There are three types of VA pensions. One type is the low income or basic pension. This is the lowest level of pension available to a veteran or to the surviving spouse of a veteran. In 2014, the maximum payment to a veteran with no dependents was $12,652 per year. The housebound benefit is a special monthly pension paid to a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran who has disability that confines him or her to the home. In 2014, the maximum payment to housebound veteran with no dependents was $15,462 per year. Aid and Attendance is paid to a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran who needs regular assistance with his or her activities of daily living, is blind, or is in a nursing facility. In 2014, the maximum Aid and Attendance payment to a veteran or the surviving spouse of a veteran was $21,107 per year.

A different benefit, called VA Disability Compensation, is paid to a veteran because of injuries or disease contracted while on active duty or which were made worse by active military service.

What are the limits on assets and income?

The asset and income limits are the most complicated part of the VA pension eligibility requirements. The VA regulations do not set a specific limit on assets. Instead, they focus on whether a veteran (or the surviving spouse of the veteran) has sufficient means to pay for his or her care. If the veteran is married, the VA will count the assets owned by the veteran, by the

spouse, or by both of them. Some assets are not counted, including the home, furnishings, and a car. If the value of the remaining assets owned by the veteran and the veteran’s spouse exceed $80,000, the veteran may not meet the asset requirements for a VA pension.

For income, the VA looks at the veteran’s (or the surviving spouse’s) household income and subtracts unreimbursed medical expenses. If the amount of income that is left exceeds the applicable VA income limit, then the veteran (or the surviving spouse) is not eligible for a VA pension payment. The income limits are adjusted annually.

Who is eligible for VA health care benefits?

A veteran who served on active duty and who was discharged from military service under conditions other than dishonorable may qualify for VA health care benefits. The VA gives priority to veterans with service-connected disabilities and conditions, followed by veterans who receive housebound pension benefits or Aid and Attendance benefits.

The Veterans Health Administration provides primary care, specialty care, hospital-based services, medications, dental care, vision care, mental health care, counseling, and other health care services. Some veterans are required to make copayments for health care services and medications.

Where does the VA offer health care services?

In Oregon, the VA operates two VA Health Care Systems (in Portland and Roseburg); the Southern Oregon-White City Rehabilitation Center and Clinic (which includes the White City domiciliary), and a number of outpatient clinics around the state. The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs operates two facilities that offer rehabilitation and long-term care services, the Oregon Veterans’ Home in The Dalles and the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon. Both state veterans’ home receive support from the VA.