Are you taking advantage of all your veterans’ benefits? The Department of Veterans Affairs recently launched a program to bring awareness of the benefits that elderly veterans might be missing. Per the VA’s notice, only 189,800 wartime veterans and 139,800 surviving spouses are using all the pension benefits they could receive.
Here are a few benefits, available through the Pension and Fiduciary Service:
• The Survivors Pension is a monthly payment to qualified surviving spouses and unmarried dependent children of wartime veterans, but only those who meet certain income and net-worth limits. There’s an additional benefit for surviving spouses who are housebound or need aid and attendance from someone else.
• The VA Pension is for wartime veterans who are permanently and totally disabled because of non-service disability, or those who are over age 65 and meet income and net-worth limits.
• The Special Monthly Pension is an additional payment for qualified veterans who are housebound, need aid and attendance for daily activities, have limited sight or are in a nursing home.
• Surviving Spouses of Blue Water Veterans (who served between Jan. 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975) might be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, even if they were previously denied.
• Funeral and Burial Benefits are available whether the death was service or non-service related. Additionally, there are benefits such as the burial flag, a headstone or marker and Presidential Memorial Certificate. See the National Cemetery website for much more information [www.cem.va.gov/burial_benefits] and to check eligibility in advance.
For details about benefits, go to benefits.va.gov/benefits. Click on Apply to find instructions and forms.
Those seeking help in filing claims need to beware. Be sure who you’re trusting with your information. Look for a VA-accredited Veterans Service Organization (VSO) representative — they are character-checked and have to pass an exam. Search for accredited representatives at www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation by filling in the information, or call 1-800-827-1000 to ask for someone in your area.