Paycheck Chronicles

From The Mailbag: Financial Benefits for Widows of Veterans


Many readers write to me, looking for financial assistance for their elderly parents.  In particular, there are many questions about whether there are any financial benefits for widows of veterans.  Here is one such letter, liberally edited to remove personal information:

My Mom is 90 years old. She lives on Social Security and a small pension she receives from being a teacher.

The reason for writing this to you is that I recently saw a re-print of an article by Anne Thompson dated 2/26/07 where she talks about a little known benefit called the "Aid & Attendance Benefit".  I believe it could help her stay in her home that my Dad built in the 60's, help pay taxes, maintenance of the aging home, as well as allowing her to age in place.

It would be wonderful, if in any way possible, Mom could receive some compensation for my Dad's contribution. To date, my Mom (90 years old) has NEVER received any compensation for the service Dad gave for his country.

Your help in this matter would be so appreciated.

This is a pretty typical question regarding the situation of a widow of a veteran who did not retire from the military.  As you know, retirement brings a different set of benefits and rules.  Here's my reply; please comment if you have additional advice.
Wow!  You've asked a slightly complicated question, and many of the answers are based upon your parents' individual situations.In short, Aid and Attendance is a supplementary benefit for housebound recipients of a Veterans Administration Survivor Pension.  Survivor Pensions are income-based pensions provided by the VA to survivors of veterans.  You can read about the eligibility guidelines in the links I've provided.  It is pretty straightforward, being based solely on income, with a small adjustment for medical expenses.

There is another VA survivors benefit called Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC).  It is designed for the survivors of veterans whose deaths were the direct result of their military service.  Without knowing your father's medical history, I can not guess whether or not your mother might be eligible.  Most veterans whose survivors are eligible for DIC are receiving disability benefits at the time of their death.

The Veterans Administration website is very good.  It is well-organized and contains pretty much ever piece of information you could find necessary to see if your mother is eligible for any benefits.  In addition, you could contact the VA directly.  Other readers have had good success in obtaining assistance in determining benefits eligibility.

Hope that helps!


Another resource that I failed to mention is the services of a Veterans Service Officer.  These are professionals or volunteers who help veterans navigate the maze of benefits that may be available.  Veterans Service Officers can be found through veterans organizations such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars, or through your county or state.  An internet search for VSO or Veterans Service Officer and the name of your state and county should give you a place to start looking. Show Full Article

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