Americans who have served in the military may qualify for benefits that can enhance their lives after they have left the service.
Most people are aware that members of the armed forces are eligible to receive a retirement pension after 20 years of service.
Different retirement structures apply to veterans who served during certain eras, but in each the amount of the pension increases along with the length of service.
Some people spend their entire careers in uniform and when they retire, they receive a nice military pension. They are also eligible for Social Security when they reach the appropriate age. Some retire after 20 years or more and embark on a second career in the private sector.
Wartime Veterans Pension
Many do not know that in addition to the retirement pension, there is an often overlooked benefit called the Veterans Pension. This pension is potentially available to all veterans who (1) served the required length of service, and (2) are at least 65 years of age or veterans of any age who are permanently disabled.
For people who joined the military before September 8, 1980, the necessary length of service is 90 days, of which at least one day was during a period of wartime (as identified by the VA). The length of service for veterans who joined after that date is 24 months, but the required one day during wartime is the same.
This benefit is intended for people who have a financial need, so there is an income and asset limit. At the present time, the total value of your assets and your annual income cannot exceed $129,094. Your home and your motor vehicle are not considered in this calculation. In addition, if your income alone is too high, you cannot qualify. .
If you look at the asset limit, you may be tempted to make gifts to your loved ones so you can qualify for the benefit. Up until October 18, you could have done this without a penalty.
Unfortunately, Congress passed legislation that imposes a three-year look back period. You can make gifts, but the gift giving must be completed at least three years before you apply for the Veterans Pension unless the amount is relatively small, in which case a lesser penalty period may apply.
Aid and Attendance and Housebound Designations
If you qualify for this pension, and you need help with your activities of daily living, you can qualify for the Aid and Attendance Veterans Pension. There is also a Housebound designation, but a veteran cannot qualify for both of them at the same time.
Maximum Annual Benefit Amounts for 2020
A veteran with no dependents who qualifies for the base Veterans Pension can receive up to $13,752 a year. The maximum for a single veteran who qualifies for the Aid and Attendance Pension is $22,939. For the Housebound benefit, the payment is up to $16,805.
All of these are about $5000 higher for veterans with a spouse or dependent child.
Access Our Worksheet
If you would like to learn more about these veteran benefits or estate planning, we have a great resource you can access today. Our firm has prepared a worksheet you can use to gain a more complete understanding of what is involved.
This resource is being offered free of charge. You may click on our worksheet page to access your copy.
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