VA Offers Special Pension Benefit To Disabled Vets And Spouses

Veterans Benefits
Sgt. 1st Class Kevin King, U.S. Army Central G9 operations sergeant, passes out Valentine's Day cards designed by local school children to veterans at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, Feb. 15, 2008 in recognition of National Salute to Hospitalized Veterans Week.
Army photo

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers a relatively unknown pension benefit called “Aid & Attendance” that helps offset the cost of living for disabled veterans who can’t work, or surviving spouses who require long-term care.


The reason for designating Aid & Attendance as a pension benefit is that many veterans or their single surviving spouses can be eligible for these funds in addition to previously earned post-service pensions. It is for veterans and spouses who have disabilities that require the aid and attendance of a caregiver or are housebound.

Through this benefit, an increased monthly amount will be added to monthly pension amount when a veteran, his or her spouse, or both are confined to home because of permanent disability.

Task & Purpose previously reported on a stipend benefit for caregivers of Post-9/11 disabled veterans — the Caregiver Support program — but the Aid & Attendance benefit is more inclusive of veterans from all conflicts.

Those wishing to be approved for Aid & Attendance may have one or more issues including requiring the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, being bedridden, residing in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity, or having eyesight that is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes or concentric contraction of the visual field to five degrees or less.

In order to determine eligibility, veterans, their spouses, or caregivers can contact their in-state Pension Management Center, which will then evaluate the situation and determine the additional pension amount that is available. Often the local VA in charge will require a thorough physician-performed assessment of the veteran or spouse’s disability, and how it impacts daily life.

The money can be used to pay for a number of things, including in-home care, assisted living, nursing home care, medical expenses, or prescriptions.

The original VA pension program was established in 1952, and provides a tax-free monthly income of $1,949 for a veteran and a spouse, $1,644 for a single veteran, $1,056 for a single surviving spouse, or $1,291 for a healthy veteran whose spouse requires care. In terms of annual income, couples can receive roughly $25,000 a year while surviving spouses of veterans are eligible to receive up to $13,560.

Veterans eligible for pension programs must have served 90 days on active duty, with one of those occurring during wartime. They must also received a discharge that is other than “dishonorable.”

Overall, the addition of the Aid & Attendance pension can offset a significant portion of long-term care costs associated with permanent disability.

An Austrian Jagdkommando K9 unit conducts training (Austrian Armed Forces photo)

An Austrian soldier was apparently killed by two military working dogs that he was charged with feeding, the Austrian Ministry of Defense announced on Thursday.

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Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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"As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night."

Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

But the "plan" went even more south when they made the rookie move to insert directly atop the mountain — right into the hands of the bad guys they knew were there.

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Photo: ABC News/screenshot

Federal court judge Reggie Walton in Washington D.C. has ruled Hoda Muthana, a young woman who left her family in Hoover, Alabama, to join ISIS, is not a U.S. citizen, her attorneys told AL.com Thursday.

The ruling means the government does not recognize her a citizen of the United States, even though she was born in the U.S.

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Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. -- The Marine Corps could train as many as eight co-ed companies at boot camp each year, and the general overseeing the effort is hitting back against those complaining that the move is lowering training standards.

"Get over it," Maj. Gen. William Mullen, the head of Training and Education Command told Military.com on Thursday. "We're still making Marines like we used to. That has not changed."

Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.

"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."

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