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The Veterans Administration offers a VA pension for war veterans. The VA pension is only available to wartime veterans who have financial need because of low incomes. They may also have a disability that is not service-related.

Who is entitled to a VA pension?

If the person is a veteran or the survivor of a veteran who served in wartime during certain conflicts and have financial need, they may be entitled to a tax-free VA pension. To qualify, the following two things must be true:

  1. They did not receive a dishonorable discharge, and
  2. Their annual family income and net worth are not over the limits set by Congress.

In addition to the two basic requirements, at least one of the following must be true:

Beyond those two lists, there is yet a third list of requirements:

What are the eligible wartime periods?

The eligible wartime periods are:

How are VA pension rates calculated?

The VA looks at how much both the veteran and their spouse earn. Income amounts include Social Security Benefits, investment income, and any pensions or retirement income. Some expenses (non-reimbursable medical expenses) can reduce an income. The maximum allowable income depends on whether they are married and the earnings of their spouse, as well as the number of dependents they have. The VA also considers their net worth.

If the VA finds them to be qualified, it will calculate an MAPR amount (maximum amount of pension payable.) If they are married to another qualified veteran, or if the disabilities qualify them for Housebound or attendance benefits, or if they have other dependents, the MAPR will increase. Check here for current MAPR amounts.

The VA uses a three year look back period to make sure veterans are not transferring income and assets to family members, hoping to decrease their income and net worth in order to claim a VA pension. That means the VA looks at all monetary transfers in the 3 years prior to the application.

Additional Resources

Who is a Veteran?

Dividing Military Pensions in Divorce

Types of Military Discharge and What they Mean for Veterans