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Veteran Pension Benefits - Veterans Pension / Survivors Pension

Veterans benefits due military personnel frequently go unclaimed. Often overlooked are disabled veteran payments, veteran death benefits and burial allowances, veterans life insurance, savings bonds and military back pay. For a comprehensive listing of all available programs go to: www.va.gov

In addition to military retirement benefits the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides supplemental income to members of the armed services and their families through the Veterans Pension and Survivors Pension programs.

The Veterans Pension is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to low-income wartime Veterans. The Survivors Pension is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried children of a deceased veteran with wartime service. For additional information and assistance go to: www.benefits.va.gov/pension/

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► The Veterans Aid and Attendance (A&A) Special Pension

Veterans and survivors who are eligible for pension benefits and are housebound may be eligible to receive additional monetary amounts.

The Aid and Attendance (A&A) Special Pension provides benefits for veterans and surviving spouses who require the regular attendance of another person to assist them in eating, dressing, bathing and going to the bathroom. It includes individuals who are blind and patients in nursing homes due to mental or physical incapacity. Residents of an Assisting Living Facility (ALF) also may qualify.

The A&A Pension provides up to $1,519 per month to a veteran, $976 per month to a surviving spouse, or $1,801 per month to a couple. Only one in seven who are eligible have claimed this benefit - Special Pension benefits totaling billions of dollars have gone unclaimed.

Any War-Time Veteran with 90 days of active duty, 1 day beginning or ending during a period of War, is eligible to apply for the Aid & Attendance Special Pension. Surviving spouses (the marriage must have ended due to death) of a War-Time Veteran may also apply.

The veteran or surviving spouse must qualify both medically and financially. To qualify medically, you must need assistance performing normal daily tasks, such as eating, dressing, dressing, and going to the bathroom. If you are blind or in a nursing home or assisted living facility due to mental or physical incapacity, you may also qualify. To qualify financially, you must have less than $80,000 in assets, exclusive of your home and automobile.

Eligibility must be proven by filing the Veterans Application for Pension or Compensation - VA Form 21-526. You will also need your Form DD-214 - Discharge/Separation Documents. These  may be obtained by mail from:

The National Personnel Records Center  |  9700 Page Avenue  |  St. Louis, Missouri 63132. You may also call 800-827-1000 or download the form online: Standard Form 180Surviving spouses will need VA Form 21-534 

►Military Back Pay

Issues specifically concerning military pay are handled by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. While no separate files or comprehensive reports are maintained on individuals due unclaimed pay and entitlements, active duty members may claim authorized payments at any time. There is a six-year statute of limitations on collecting pay or entitlements once an individual has separated from the service. Contact:

Defense Finance and Accounting Service
1931 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22240-5291

►Military Records

The National Personnel Records Center / Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) is the repository for all military personnel, health and medical records. The Center provides Form DD-214 and other separation documents that are required to process most types of claims, including those for burial assistance, pensions and life insurance.

Pursuant to the Privacy Act of 1974, the Department of Defense requires that all requests for information be made in writing. They must be dated and signed, as well. Standard Form 180, "Request Pertaining to Military Records," can be downloaded from the NPRC website, http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/dd-214.html  It may also be obtained from your local Veterans Affairs Office.

Send the completed form to: National Personnel Records Center - Military Personnel Records, 9700 Page Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63132-5100. If you prefer to phone, the following numbers apply: Air Force - (314) 538-4243; Army - (314) 538-4261; Navy/Marines/Coast Guard - (314) 538-4141. Requests may be faxed to: (314) 538-4175.

Note that in 1973, between 16-18 million Official Military Personnel Files were destroyed in a fire. No duplicate copies were maintained. Primarily affected are those who served in the Army between 1912 and 1960, and Air Force personnel discharged between 1947 and 1964. Records prior to 20th century are stored at the National Archives in Washington D.C.

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