VA Pension & VA disability benefits
This overview of VA pension and VA disability benefits explains whether you can qualify for both programs, depending on your pension income cap.
Veterans may wonder if they can receive both pension payments and VA disability benefits. The answer is yes, you might be able to participate in both programs – but it depends on the amount of your disability benefits. It may help to review the different purposes and eligibility requirements for each benefit:
Non-service-connected pension benefits for veterans disabled after service
This type of pension is not for any service-connected disability. It is designed for veterans who become disabled from conditions that occurred after their military service. It is intended for:
- Low income veterans, who meet income requirements, AND
- Who are severely disabled, AND
- Who served during a federally recognized time of war, AND
- Who were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
To receive these benefits, the veteran must be permanently and totally disabled, and generally unable to work. The income levels are quite low to qualify. Your yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the Veterans Pension benefit. For example, as of December 1, 2012, the cap on income for veterans with no dependents was $12,465 per year. If your countable income is more than that, you do not qualify. If your countable annual income is less than that, then you would be paid the difference to bring your total income to the $12,465 amount. For example, if your countable annual income was $10,000, you would be paid $2,465 in 12 monthly payments.
VA disability benefits
Disability compensation is designed for veterans whose disabling illness or injury is connected to, or aggravated by, their military service. The benefit is paid on a scale from 10% disability to 100% disability. So veterans who are only partially disabled can still receive some benefits under this program.
There is no income test or requirements to receive disability benefits. To be eligible, veterans must have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.
Receiving both pension and disability payments
Veterans can receive both non-service connected pension and service-connected disability benefits — if the amount they receive in disability payments, and from other income sources, is less than their pension income cap.
In this way, veteran’s disability payments are counted as an income source. For example, for a veteran with no benefits, the pension income cap is currently $12,465 per year. If that pensioner is also awarded a disability benefit, s/he can receive all or part of the benefits, so long as that doesn’t cause the total annual income to go over $12,465.