Pension Benefits for Texas Veterans
Texas has the second-highest Veteran population in the United States and Harris County is home to the most Veterans in the state. However, families across Texas struggle to provide necessary care for aging or disabled Veterans or their surviving spouses. Unfortunately, many of these families are unaware of the pension benefits for Texas veterans. The pension benefit program is a needs-based program that provides a monthly benefit to veterans and qualifying family members. In addition to the basic pension rate, certain individuals can also qualify for supplemental benefits, such as the housebound or aid and attendance award.
Unfortunately, Veterans' benefits are not as straightforward as they should be. In part, this is because there are many different types of benefits veterans may qualify for. When it comes to pension benefits for Texas veterans, there are a few important things to keep in mind:
- They are not dependent upon service-related injuries;
- Wartime veterans and their surviving spouses may be eligible;
- Applicants must meet certain medical and financial requirements; and
- The benefits are intended to offset costs related to in-home care, nursing home care, or assisted-living care.
The application process for pension benefits can be both complex and lengthy. Thus, many qualified applicants seek assistance with the process. However, it is against the law for anyone to charge applicants to help complete the application or file for benefits. If a Veteran or Surviving Spouse is already medically and financially eligible, the local Veterans Services Organizations can assist in the application process.
When a Veteran is ready to apply but may still be collecting documentation for the application, it is suggested to file what’s called and intent to file. This document is important because it sets the potential start date for eligibility, and the applicant may receive retroactive benefits to that date once approved.How Much Can Eligible Applicants Receive in VA Pension Benefits?
The cost of assisted living, nursing home or home health care has increased significantly over recent years and is beyond the reach of many families. In fact, according to a 2021 report, the average cost of a semi-private room in a Texas nursing home exceeds $5,000 per month, and a private room costs over $6,300 per month. That is between $70,000 to $75,600 per year. Pension benefits for Texas veterans can help offset these costs for qualified veterans and their surviving spouses.
View the 2022 VA Non-Service Connected Pension Rates.Who Is Eligible to Receive Pension Benefits?
To qualify for VA pension benefits, an applicant must meet three areas of eligibility: Service, Medical, and Financial.1. Service
A veteran must have served at least 90 days of active military duty, with at least one of those days during wartime. Additionally, the veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge.2. Medical
A veteran or surviving spouse must be over the age of 65 or suffer from a disability to receive the base benefit amount. However, to receive the additional housebound or aid-and-attendance benefits, an applicant must show that they are “housebound” or require the “aid and attendance” of another person when performing activities of daily living.3. Financial
To qualify for VA pension benefits in 2022, an applicant’s net worth must be less than $138,489. However, this limit increases slightly over time. When calculating net worth, the VA counts all non-exempt assets and annual income, and then subtracts qualifying medical expenses. Exempt assets include a primary residence, a vehicle, and basic home items such as appliances.What Is the Look-Back Period?
When you apply for VA pension benefits, the VA will review your financial statement from the past three years. If you made an uncompensated transfer after October 18, 2018, and within 36 months of your application, you may suffer an eligibility penalty. The penalty period is determined by dividing the portion of assets transferred which would have caused the net worth to exceed the limit by the current maximum monthly pension rate for a veteran with a dependent. Uncompensated transfers can be cured in whole or in part as long as they are reversed and the proof is submitted to the VA within the applicable timeframe.How Can I Qualify for Pension Benefits?
Due to the 36-month look-back period, VA pre-planning is recommended. Pre-planning may include re-titling or giving away assets, or establishing a trust. VA pre-planning is perfectly legal, but doing so properly can be complicated, which is why we recommend always working with a VA-accredited attorney.Schedule a Consultation to Discuss How McCulloch & Miller, PLLC Can Help You Obtain Pension Benefits for Texas Veterans
If you have questions about VA pension benefit eligibility, reach out to the VA-accredited attorneys at McCulloch & Miller, PLLC, to learn how we can help. Our Houston veterans’ benefits lawyers have extensive experience helping out clients obtain the benefits they worked so hard to earn. We also assist veterans and their family members with a wide range of estate planning needs. To learn more, and to schedule a consultation, reach out to McCulloch & Miller, PLLC at 713-333-8900 today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.