Unbeknownst to many wartime veterans 65 years or older, there is financial assistance awaiting them in the form of the Veterans Disability Pension. For older veterans with limited incomes and an inability to work, the Disability Pension is often a stunning revelation. Even less known is the fact that veterans over the age of 65 don’t necessarily have to be disabled and can instead qualify for the Veteran’s Pension specifically in place for veterans 65 or over.
If you are a veteran who is aged 65 or older and qualify for either the disability pension or the pension program for those at least 65, you are able to receive a set amount of funds. These funds are calculated via two figures: the income that you have that is considered countable and a figure referred to as the Maximum Pension Rate, more commonly referred to as the MAPR.
Pension and MAPR for 2018 Simplified
As is the norm with anything having to do with money and the military or government, the rules that define the processes can be quite confusing, which may even be part of the reason why so few older veterans are aware of the pension benefits that they are qualified for.
How to do the Calculation: As mentioned above, the amount of money you will receive is a set amount that is calculated between your countable income and the MAPR.
What Countable Income is: Countable income covers practically every source of money you have coming into your household. It includes your retirement payments, your social security benefits, any investments you may have, and even the earned income amount of your dependents.
What Countable Income isn’t: Any medical expenses that are not covered by your insurance, are not reimbursable and are paid for out of pocket.
Basic Definition for MAPR: MAPR is the maximum pension amount that is paid to youHow to Calculate MAPR: MAPR calculations are based on the following factors:
- The number of dependents you have
- If your disabilities incapacitate you to the extent that you are essentially housebound and qualifies you for what's called “Aid and Attendance benefits”
- Whether or not you are married to another veteran who is also eligible for pension benefits
- Note: MAPR figures are adjusted yearly based on increases in the cost of living
Finding Your MAPR
If you are a veteran without dependents, refer to this chart to see if any of the other factors pertain to you (Example: Whether or not you are housebound) Match yourself up with the criteria,and you will have found your max MAPR.
|Veterans who do not have any dependents and meet any of the following criteria below||Your total MAPR amount comes out to:|
|You do not qualify for Aid,and Attendance Benefits nor are you housebound||$13,166|
|If you qualify for housebound benefits||$16,089|
|You qualify for Aid and Attendance Benefits||$21,962|
- If you have one or more dependents, add on $2250 when calculating your MAPR. Each additional dependent will require an addition of $2250 t your calculations.
- If you have a dependent or child who is working, you may exclude up to $10,650 of their wages when calculating your MAPR. Anything over that amount must be included
- Veterans who have medical expenses may deduct ONLY the amount that is 5% of your total MAPR amount.
Calculating your MAPR can at times seem easy until you come across details that are confusing and make little sense. In an attempt to make the process easier to understand, the Veterans Administration has published a table of examples illustrating veterans going through different scenarios.
The following chart can be found at the Veteran Administration's Website. It was created to demonstrate different types of situations veterans might face, whether they have dependents, are married, have medical expenses, and more.
The chart is followed by a brief list of links to federal regulations and additional information on different facets of pension, as found below:
Additional References to Help Determine Counting Income
|Rate Computations||38 Code of Federal Regulation 3.273|
|Exclusions from Income||38 Code of Federal Regulation 3.272|
|"Income" for VA Purposes (IVAP)||38 Code of Federal Regulation 3.271|
|Improved Pension Rates -Veterans and Surviving Spouses||38 Code of Federal Regulation 3.23|
To read further information on a particular subject, click the links below:
- The Improved Disability Pension Rate Tables
- The Improved Death Pension Rate Tables (Survivor’s Pension info)
Classifications of either being housebound and/or in need of aid and attendance benefits significantly increases your maximum MAPR. As is the case with filing any claim with the VA, the eligibility application for Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits is tedious but well worth the effort.
Applying for Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits begins by:
- Informing the VA through a letter describing your health claims
- Make sure that you are communicating and filing paperwork with the same VA office that initially filed for pension benefits from.
To bolster your claim, give it credibility, and expedite the process, ensure that you do the following:
- Include copies (always keep the originals) of any medical records, reports, or other evidence from your doctor or physician indicating a valid need for the type of care that Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits entail.
- Your medical documentation should have more than just a sufficient amount of detail indicating that you are impaired in some way, whether it is a mental impairment, disease, physical impairment, lack of mobility and coordination or a variety of other debilitating conditions.
- If you have a doctor who is not prone to detailing your condition and can’t be bothered to help you in that regard, find another doctor who will give you the attention and care you deserve, as well as meticulously detailing your condition.
- While at times these reports can be embarrassing, they should readily indicate if you are housebound and incapable of leaving the premises, if you have issues with dressing, undressing, bathing, going to the toilet, and keeping yourself clean. These factors will play a significant part in the VA’s decision in your case.
- Bear in mind that Aid and Attendance benefits are different than housebound benefits; they are not one and the same, although you can apply for both of them.
- Regardless of which type of benefit you are applying for, the medical reports that you supply will need to address your ability to be mobile in and out of the house, the places that your frequent, and the activities that you take part in throughout the day.
In conclusion, your Maximum Annual Pension Rate is determined by a slew of factors that go towards shifting the amount up or down significantly. Having dependents, a military spouse eligible for benefits, a working child, a disability of a certain degree, and many more factors are all taken into consideration by the VA when they are looking over your case.
It’s never an easy task to go through VA processes, but with meticulous record-keeping, compiling a well-documented medical paper trail, and having the strength and patience to get through the process, you can very likely increase your MAPR to a number that can feasibly make your life much easier.