Questions and Answers:
Access in-depth information about
veterans benefits for spouses and read some common questions
and answers below to get in-depth information about VA benefits and
whether you or your spouse may qualify:
Q: How does someone know if
they qualify for VA benefits?
A: I recommend you turn to the
Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) to have a good understanding
of the benefits people are entitled to as veterans. The VA does a
handbook every year for veterans and their dependents. Request the
handbook by either phone or at your local VA office, as the
handbook is a great starting point.
*To apply for VA health care or determine eligibility, call the
VA's Health Benefits Service Center at (877) 222-VETS, or contact a
Veterans Benefits Office or VA health care facility (find the
nearest location at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)
Q: Are Army Reserves and
National Guard eligible?
A: The person would need to have
been to 'called-up' to service to be eligible for benefits. The
Army Reserves qualifies individuals if they served during an
approved period of war and were actually 'called-up' to service.
National Guard are eligible to receive benefits if they are
activated for federal service during a period of war or domestic
Q: How do you get military
A: What you'll need is the
availability of discharge papers to prove eligibility for VA
pension. You can request a copy from national archives:
Q: What amount of time do
you need to serve to be eligible for benefits?
A: It depends on when you served.
For older veterans, you need to have served 90 days active duty
with one day during an approved period of war. For the most recent
combat veterans, they need to have served 180 days
Q: Are divorced spouses
covered? Are there any circumstances why they wouldn't be? How do
you know if you qualify for spouse of veteran
A: If the divorce was official prior
to November 1st, 1991 and the veteran never remarried,
the former spouse may be eligible. Even if the spouse did remarry
and that marriage ended, there is still the potential the spouse
may be able to file against her first husband's service. If the
divorce falls after November 1st, 1991, spouses are not
Q: Do you need to be
physically disabled to become eligible for VA
A: For Basic Pension, no. For the
Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefit, yes. But all three levels
have a financial means test. A "countable income" would have to be
below the threshold that's attached with each level. Basically, if
medical needs deplete your income, you qualify. See the attached
PDF on"Countable Income"for more information.
Q: Can applications be
expedited? What's the difference between applications for pensions
A: All is the same process. You're
still applying for approved monthly income. Any veteran who is 70
years and older, as is the widow, is entitled to request expedited
processing for their application. With advanced age, the request
carries more weight.
Examples of different benefits:
Basic Pension: Basic Pension is designed to
function as cash assistance for low income veterans and their
dependents, so applicants may be healthy, but must have a very low
Housebound Benefit: Housebound assistance with
day-to-day activities must be needed on a "regular basis"
Aid and Attendance: Assistance must be required
on a "daily basis"
Q: When you're not having
any luck reaching the VA in the middle of the application process -
what is the best course of action? Contacting a senator? Getting a
lawyer? Can you recommend any successful techniques to get things
A: Depending on where the process
is, I recommend different actions. Have you received anything in
the mail, for example?
- If you're before the 6-month period, call the VA midweek, later
in the day to avoid peak calling times. Just keep redialing and
redialing. Do not involve an attorney. Anything before 6 months
would be considered premature, so justbe patient.
- After 6 months has passed and no decision or award has been
made, you can contact a senator or congress person in the
application state (where veteran or widow resides) to make a
congressional inquiry and fax a letter to act on behalf of the
applicant. If there is a financial hardship, you can request for
Q: What are the asset
limitations when applying for health care benefits?
A: $80k is a general rule-of-thumb,
but for those with more assets, they could still be eligible.
Applicants with an excess of $80k-depending on their age and
monthly expenses-could still be eligible. Contact the VA office or
check the handbook for more info on eligibility.
Meet Debbie Burak with VeteranAid.org: