VA Pension Eligibility

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) manages two disability benefits programs: disability compensation and pensions. Both programs provide tax-free monthly payments to qualifying veterans. But, there are different eligibility requirements. This article concerns non-service-connected VA pension benefits.

What is a VA Pension? The VA pension was created to compensate disabled or elderly veterans who volunteered to serve their country during a time of war.

How is Eligibility Determined?

Benefits are awarded after three requirements are satisfied:

1. Wartime service. Veterans who served on or before September 7, 1980 must have 90 continuous days of service with at least one of those days during wartime. Veterans serving after September 7, 1980, must have served at least 24-months or the full period they were called to serve. Wartime Service is recognized for the following periods:

  • Mexican Border Period (May 9, 1916 – April 5, 1917 for Veterans who served in Mexico, on its borders, or adjacent waters)
  • World War I (April 6, 1917 – November 11, 1918)
  • World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
  • Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period; otherwise August 5, 1964 – May 7, 1975)
  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)

2. Need. Veterans must demonstrate a financial need to receive a VA pension. Your “countable family income” and net worth must fall below the Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR). In 2019, the MAPR for a single Veteran with no dependents was $13,535. The VA pension rate tables can be found at When applying, all income must be reported to the VA to avoid overpayment, including Social Security payments. Medical expenses, including expenses for nursing home care, can be deducted from your income by submitting a VA Form 21P-8416. Submitting this form could up increase your monthly pension payment.

3. Age or Disability. For pension purposes, veterans must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Age 65 or older with limited or no income, OR
  • Totally and permanently disabled, OR
  • A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care, OR
  • Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance, OR
  • Receiving Supplemental Security Income

A Veteran Legal Professional Can Help.

If you think you’re entitled to a VA pension, or have any regarding your VA disability claim generally, a skilled Veteran’s law attorney can help you obtain the compensation you earned. As always, we only charge a fee if your appeal is successful.

Do not hesitate to contact us at the Rocky Mountain Disability Law Group to obtain the assistance you need. Our conveniently located Denver office can be reached at 303-534-1958 or by completing a quick and convenient online form.

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