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Am I eligible for a veteran's pension?

Honorably discharged veterans who have limited incomes and nonservice related health problems may be eligible for a pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

To be eligible for this pension, you must be age 65 or older, or you must be permanently and totally disabled; you must have limited income and assets; and you must have served a minimum of 90 days of active duty with at least one day of active duty during wartime. If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, you must have served at least 24 months, or the full period for which you were called to active duty.

Your countable income must be below an annual pension limit set by law. This pension limit is higher based on whether you have a spouse and/or dependents. You can reduce your countable income by deducting unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 5% of the appropriate annual pension limit.

While there's no stated limitation on your net worth in order to qualify for pension benefits, the VA states that net worth can't be excessive. Generally, you may not be eligible for benefits if your net worth is large enough to live on for a reasonable period of time.

Your benefits are calculated by totaling all of your countable income reduced by eligible unreimbursed medical expenses. This figure is subtracted from the appropriate annual pension limit to determine your total annual pension, which is then paid monthly. For example, assume the appropriate annual pension limit is $11,830; you have unreimbursed medical expenses of $1,500 and countable annual income of $8,500. Your countable income ($8,500) is reduced by your unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 5% of the appropriate annual pension limit ($1,500 - $592 = $908). Your countable income ($8,500 - $908 = $7,592) is then subtracted from the appropriate annual pension limit ($11,830 - $7,592), resulting in an annual pension of $4,238, or $353 per month. Your monthly benefit may be increased if you're eligible for Aid and Attendance or housebound benefits. For additional information, visit the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website at www.va.gov.