There is a LOT to cover when discussing Veterans and Survivors Pension (VA), this post is going to focus on income – because I have found it to difficult to determine how much income someone can earn, and maintain eligibility. Included are links to the information I found, and if anyone reading this has new/different data (and can support it) please post in comments. I will make multiple posts as I explore the VA pensions.
Income is defined as “payments of any kind from any source” (Statute 3.271); and includes recurring (equal amounts and at regular intervals); irregular (unequal amounts or irregular intervals); Nonreccuring (one-time basis during a 12-month period); Salary (gross earnings); Business, farm or professional income (depreciation and losses may not be deducted from other income sources); income from property; and installments (total amount anticipated/received over 12-months).
When considering income, you are allowed to make certain deductions to determine your eligibility (get your income below the threshold). For a veteran without a spouse or child, 2018’s annual income must be below $13,166 (Veteran Pension Tables). For a survivor w/o a child, the annual income is even lower – $8,830 (Surviving Spouse Table).
The following items will not be considered income:
Welfare – donations from public/private relief agencies. Maintenance – “The value of maintenance furnished by a relative, friend, or a charitable organization (civic or governmental) will not be considered income.” VA pension benefits are not counted as income. Casualty loss reimbursement. Property sales (profit) and joint accounts (when the individual becomes sole owner through the death of the other owner). Survivor benefits are not counted.
In certain cases, unreimbursed medical expenses may be used to reduce an individual’s income (verbatim from Code):
(i) They were or will be paid by a veteran or spouse for medical expenses of the veteran, spouse, children, parents and other relatives for whom there is a moral or legal obligation of support;
(ii) They were or will be incurred on behalf of a person who is a member or a constructive member of the veteran’s or spouse’s household; and
(iii) They were or will be in excess of 5 percent of the applicable maximum annual pension rate or rates for the veteran (including increased pension for family members but excluding increased pension because of need for aid and attendance or being housebound) as in effect during the 12-month annualization period in which the medical expenses were paid.
This is just a very light overview of all the variables to be considered. If you know a veteran, surviving spouse or disabled child who earns less than $15k my recommendation is find a veteran service organization (VSO) and work with a chapter service officer to submit a fully developed claim. VSOs do NOT charge money to help veterans and their dependents file a claim – this is a FREE service. For a list of VSOs click here.