September 23, 2019

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Obtaining a Veteran’s Pension


Veterans of the US Armed Forces have put a lot on the line. That’s why it’s so important that they receive the benefits they so rightly deserve. Sadly, in this country, it isn’t always as easy as it should be to obtain benefits or VA medical treatment. That being said, there are still options available to those in need. Retired veterans and their families might be interested to know that there are a variety of pensions and pension-related benefits that could help ease the burden of aging and, in the case of family members, surviving after the death of a loved one.

Survivor’s Pension

To begin with, a survivor’s pension is available to those who have lost a loved one who served in the US military. There are a few conditions attached to this benefit. First of all, the deceased must have spent 90 days in active service, with at least one day served during wartime. If the deceased was active after September 7th, 1980, they must have served for 24 months or the entirety of the period for which they were called to serve. Once again, one day must have been served during wartime.

The beneficiary must be a child or spouse of the late veteran. A child receiving benefits must be under 18-years old – or 23 if attending an approved school. If the child is disabled and unable to care for their own person, they may be able to obtain a survivor’s pension. A widow must be unmarried and receive a low income in order to be eligible. Here is the form to be filled out and sent to the proper benefit office.

Supplemental Income

If you are a veteran and are of retirement age, you might be interested in collecting a supplemental income, which is available to those who have served during wartime. The service requirements are the same as above: if you were active prior to September 7th, 1980, you must have served for 90 days; if you were active after that date, you must have served for 24 months or the duration of the period for which you were ordered to serve; and in both cases you must have served at least one day during wartime. There are also a few conditions that must be satisfied before collecting. You must be over the age of 65. Failing that, you must receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. You may also receive benefits if you’re severely disabled or are currently under the care of a nursing home.

Calculating the Value

To calculate the value of your pension, you must first determine whether your family income is less than the amount set by Congress. If, say, Congress set the pension threshold at $13,855, then you must make less than that amount to be eligible. After determining your eligibility, you simply subtract your combined income (yours and your spouses) from the statutory limit. The result is your yearly pension. If you and your spouse make $10,000, then your pension is $3,855, which will be chopped up and distributed monthly. You may also be able to offset your combined income by subtracting a portion of out-of-pocket medical expenses. For more information, visit the VA website explaining the process of calculating benefits.

Extra Benefits

There are also ways of increasing your monetary benefits. If you are disabled in such a way that you require another person’s aid and attendance, or if you’re completely housebound, then you may be able to add money to your monthly pension. Those who are unable to receive a basic pension due to a high income, may be able to obtain a pension under these increased rates.

Aid and Attendance (or A&A) is available to anyone who requires the services of another person to complete daily tasks, such as getting changed, adjusting a prosthetic, bathing and feeding. Also, if you have a disability that relegates you to your bed, you may be able to receive A&A. In addition, you may receive this benefit if you are registered in a nursing home due to mental or physical issues, or if you have very poor eyesight. And if you are disabled in such a way that you cannot leave your home, you may be eligible for housebound benefits. To apply for these, just write to your state’s Pension Management Center and include any evidence pertaining to your situation.

In the end, a pension can go a long way in helping you maintain your lifestyle. You can get started by visiting the VA’s website and determining your eligibility.

About Sean Lally

Sean Lally holds a BA in Philosophy from Temple University where he also studied theatre for several years. Between 2007 and 2017, he worked as a professional actor for several regional theater companies in Philadelphia, including the Arden Theatre Co., EgoPo Productions, Lantern Theater and the Bearded Ladies. In 2010, Sean co-founded Found Theater Company, an avant-garde artist collective with whom he first started to cultivate an identity as a writer.

Over the past few years, Sean has been working as a content writer, focusing primarily on the ways in which unequal power distribution can negatively affect consumers, workers and “everyday people,” more broadly. He writes for a number of websites including,, and others.