There is a wonderful, almost secret, benefit available only to certain veterans who served during a period of war or conflict. This benefit is also extended to the spouses and widows of such veterans. Unfortunately, very few of those qualified for the benefit know it exists. Even fewer actually know how it works. Further adding to the secrecy and confusion of the benefit are the various names used to refer to it, such as “non-service connected disability pension,” “non-service connected pension,” “veterans pension program,” “special monthly pension,” “improved pension,” “special pension,” “VA pension,” and “aid and attendance.”  This program is different than the Disability Compensation benefit that is more widely understood and utilized by veterans and their families.

The veteran's benefit is need-based and helps eligible veterans or their widows who need financial assistance due to limited assets and incomes. It helps those whose incomes have been used to pay for out of pocket expenses incurred due to poor health, illness, or disability. For those who qualify, the VA pays up to about $2,000.00 per month. In order to qualify, the veteran must be disabled and meet certain income and asset requirements. At its core, the benefit is a special thank-you program for veterans who served during a time of war or conflict who now need some extra help. In order to meet the service during war or conflict requirement, the veteran must have served in active duty for at least 90 consecutive days and at least one of those days of service had to fall within the below wartime/conflict periods.

Mexican Border:  May 9,  1916  to April 5, 1917
World War I: April 6,  1917  to November 11, 1918
(April 1,  1920  if served in Russia) 
World War II: December 7,  1941  to December 31, 1946
Korean War:  June 27,  1950  to January 31, 1955
Vietnam War:

For a veteran who served in Vietnam:
February 28,  1961  to May 7, 1975

For all other Vietnam veterans:
August 5,  1964  to May 7, 1975

Persian Gulf War:

August 2,  1990  to [date not yet determined]

Other factors that influence eligibility for this program are disability, assets, and income determined by the Income for Veterans Administration Purposes (IVAP).

Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning