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The keys to your pension benefits

The Veterans Administration pension program provides monthly benefit payments to certain wartime veterans with financial need and their survivors.

As veterans and survivors consider applying for these benefits, they should be aware of important information about the pension program.

Pension is a needs-based benefit paid to a wartime veteran and his or her survivors. A veteran generally may be eligible if he or she:

Was discharged from service under other than dishonorable conditions.

Served 90 days or more of active military, naval or air service with at least one day during a period of war. Veterans who entered active duty after Sept. 7, 1980, also must have served at least 24 months of active-duty service. If the total length of service is fewer than 24 months, the veteran must have completed his or her entire tour of active duty.

His or her countable income is below the maximum annual pension rate.

Meets the net-worth limitations.

Is age 65 or older, or is shown by evidence to have a permanent and total nonservice-connected disability, or is a patient in a nursing home, or is receiving Social Security disability benefits.

“Aid and Attendance” is an increased monthly pension amount paid to a veteran or surviving spouse. You may be eligible for the increased A&A amount if you are eligible for basic pension benefits and you meet any of these qualifications:

You require the aid of another person to perform daily-living activities such as bathing, feeding, dressing, toileting, adjusting prosthetic devices or protecting yourself from the hazards of your daily environment.

You are bedridden, in that your disability or disabilities require that you remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment.

You are a patient in a nursing home because of mental or physical incapacity.

You have corrected visual acuity of 5/200 or less in both eyes or concentric contraction of the visual field to 5 degrees or less.

“Housebound” is an increased monthly pension amount paid to a veteran or surviving spouse who is substantially confined to his or her home because of permanent disability. You may be eligible if you are eligible for basic pension benefits and meet any of these qualifications:

You have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling and, because of a disability or disabilities, you are permanently and substantially confined to your immediate premises.

You have a single permanent disability evaluated as 100 percent disabling and another disability or disabilities, independently evaluated as 60 percent or more disabling.

Contact your county veterans service officer for additional information about the pension program.

Richard Schleeter is the veterans service officer for the La Plata County Veterans Service Office. He can be reached at 759-0117 or schleeterrs@co.laplata.co.us.