Veterans’ Benefits

Law Passed to Help Military Veterans Safeguard Survivor Benefits for their Children with Disabilities

Law Passed to Help Military Veterans Safeguard Survivor Benefits for their Children with Disabilities

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2015, Congress will allow a supplemental needs trust (SNT) to be designated to receive military Survivor Benefit Pans on behalf of the Retiree’s child with a disability. Prior to this law, children of eligible Veterans who received needs based government benefits to pay for the costs of long term care or other services were subject to losing those valuable benefits since the VA required that any Survivor Benefit be paid directly to the child with the disability.  Under the new provision, the Survivor Benefit can be paid instead to a first party SNT which will now protect a child from losing important government benefits, while allowing the Survivor Benefit to be used for other goods and services, such as therapy not covered by the government, respite care, computers that can enhance the child’s well being.    A first party supplemental needs trust (SNT) is created for funds that belong to the person with the disability.  Upon his or her death, remaining trust assets must be used to repay Medicaid for services provided the individual during life.

Eligible Wartime Periods for V.A. Pension Benefits


If you, or your deceased spouse, served during wartime you may be eligible to receive V.A. pension benefits or Spousal benefits. The V.A. recognizes the following wartime periods to determine eligibility for VA Pension benefits:

  • World War I (April 6, 1916 – November 11, 1918)
  • World War II (December 7, 1941 – December 31, 1946)
  • Korean conflict (June 27, 1950 – January 31, 1955)
  • Vietnam era (February 28, 1961 – May 7, 1975 for Veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period, otherwise August 5, 1964 –  May 7, 1975)
  • Gulf War (August 2, 1990 – through a future date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation)


For the first time since 2008, the Department of Veterans Affairs has announced an increase in the maximum Aid and Attendance, an enhanced pension benefit for eligible veterans.   These new figures for 2012 are:

 $20,447 per year ($1,074 per month) for a qualified veteran

$24,239 per year ($2,020 per month) for a qualified veteran who is married

$13,138 per year ($1,095 per month) for an eligible surviving spouse of a qualified veteran

$31,578 per year ($2,631 per month) if both eligible spouses are qualified veterans

 VA Aid and Attendance enhanced pension benefits are intended to provide a monthly stipend to meet care needs of veterans or their surviving spouses.     The veteran or spouse must be in need of assistance with activities such as: dressing or undressing; hygiene; frequent need of adjustment of special prosthetic or orthopedic appliances which due to the claimant’s disability, he or she cannot adjust on own; feeding; inability to attend to wants of nature; or as a result of a mental or physical impairment, the veteran or his spouse requires daily assistance to protect the claimant from harm.

 The claimant need not meet all conditions above or need 24-hour care. The threshold is that the veteran or spouse needs regular and ongoing assistance from someone else.

 To apply for the enhanced pension benefit, the veteran must have served on active duty for at least 90 days, at least one day of which occurred during a period designated as wartime (see below).  The veteran must have received an honorable discharge.  Single surviving spouse of such veterans are also eligible to apply.

 Periods of Wartime Service:

World War II – December 7, 1941 through December 31, 1946

Korean Conflict – June 27, 1950 through January 31, 1955

Vietnam Era – August 5, 1964 through May 7, 1975; for veterans who served “in country” before August 5, 1964, then February 28, 1961 through May 7, 1975

Gulf War – August 2, 1990 through a date to be set by law or Presidential Proclamation.