What is Considered Income for Veterans Benefits?
When veterans apply for benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), they are required to meet specific income requirements. These income requirements vary greatly among benefits programs and between states. What is considered income for one program may not be considered income for another VA program, hence the common confusion on this topic.
If you or someone you love is a veteran, you will want to be informed on specific requirements regarding VA benefits programs in order to be accepted into the program while receiving all the necessary services available.
The application process can take longer than one might expect, so you may want to get started as soon as you can and be prepared to be patient and honest. Failing to claim income can void a veteran from receiving benefits through the VA and may result in the veteran having to repay past dues.
In this article, we are going to talk about various veteran benefit programs and what is considered income for those programs to help get veterans enrolled efficiently.
Countless veterans rely on medical benefits through the VA each year to ensure a healthy and comfortable lifestyle once returning home. Services veterans can expect to receive once being deemed eligible for medical benefits can include inpatient care, outpatient care, in-home care, preventative services, diagnostic testing, and even dental care!
Medical services are disbursed to veterans using the VA’s Priority Group system. Veterans who fall into a low number Priority Group (1-4) will receive more services than those who fall into a higher Priority Group (5-8). A veteran’s Priority Group is determined by a personal evaluation to assess the specific needs and services required for each person’s situation along with income.
For medical benefits, all wages collected over the past year will be considered income along with other less-common monetary compensation such as alimony payments, Social Security benefits, gambling winnings, and unemployment compensation. If a veteran has collected any of those examples of income, it must be reported to the VA to be eligible for medical benefits. As with all VA programs, there are many exceptions to what is considered “income.”
Veterans can deduct very specific services and payments from their annual income to meet the income thresholds set in place by the U.S government. A few examples of medical expenses that can be deducted from a veteran’s overall income include:
- Dental surgery
- Prescription drugs
- Disability-related equipment
- Doctor’s appointments
Veteran’s Pension Benefits
Receiving monthly pension payments through the VA is highly sought after for most veterans. Pension benefits are allotted to veterans who meet service requirements for their time in the military, net worth limits set by Congress, and requirements pertaining to their annual income.
The same types of income accepted by the VA for medical benefits apply to pension benefits as well. These include wages such as those earned from a job or jobs, money awarded in court settlements, alimony payments, or other forms of monetary payment for goods or services.
A veteran’s net worth combines their annual salary, including those of their dependents or spouse, with all applicable assets. For veterans to be eligible to receive pension benefits through the VA, the combined monetary value of their net worth must meet the requirements set in place by Congress, which is subject to change annually.
Types of Income Accepted by the VA
Generally speaking, “income” is defined by the VA as any form of payment given to the veteran over the course of a year. As we have mentioned before, there are exceptions to this rule including deductions that lower the overall annual income amount. Let’s go over the different types of income that are taken into consideration when applying for veterans’ benefits.
Recurring income is a set amount of money that the veteran can expect to receive in regular intervals throughout the calendar year such as monthly, weekly, bi-monthly, quarterly, or every 6 months. Examples of recurring income include disability compensation, unemployment benefits, and pension benefits.
Non-recurring income is money that is given to a veteran a single time during the year, which is not expected to continue or become a regular source of income. Non-recurring income could be an inheritance, gift from a family member or friend, or other forms of spontaneous allowance.
Irregular income is any monetary amount distributed to a veteran throughout the year. Unlike recurring income, these payments are not always for the same amount and are not on a regular schedule (monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, etc.).
A veteran’s salary is the total amount of money earned through their job or place of work throughout the calendar year. The salary is not adjusted for deductions or expenses such as taxes, child support payments, alimony, social security, or insurance. A veteran can determine their annual salary by simply identifying exactly how much money they have made over the last year before any deductions.
Income From Property
Any amount of money earned by renting out a house, apartment, land, garage, or other property owned directly or jointly owned by the veteran must be reported to the VA as income. This is known as “income from property”. If the property in question is owned by more than one person, the veteran’s share of the income will be evaluated and adjusted.
Installment payments such as annual interest are another form of income the VA will use to determine eligibility for veterans’ benefits. These can either be payments that have already been paid to the veteran or those that are expected to be paid to the veteran based on their financial situation.
Veterans Benefits: Income Matters
Accurately assessing a veteran’s income will be one of the biggest contributors when determining eligibility for benefits through the VA. Specific eligibility requirements vary state by state and program by program, for the most accurate information based on the region the veteran resides in be sure to visit a local VA office or by visiting the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. Failing to accurately declare income could prevent the veteran from receiving future benefits while posing the risk for additional consequences.