Compensation and Pension Benefits for Veterans

Learn about types of monetary benefits available to some veterans.

Compensation Benefits for Veterans

Veterans who are disabled due to service-related injury or illness may be entitled to disability compensation, a tax-free, monthly benefit. Survivors of veterans may receive compensation benefits in certain situations too.

Though applying for compensation benefits used to be long and cumbersome, the VA's streamlined claims processes have made things easier. Visit to learn:

If you're currently receiving disability benefits, you may be interested in downloading the publication How to Save and Invest Your Disability Benefits: A Guide for Warriors in Transition.

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VA Pensions for Veterans and Survivors

Low-income wartime veterans and their survivors may qualify for Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension benefits, tax-free monthly payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Veterans Pensions and Survivors Pensions Eligibility Criteria

Both pensions base eligibility on three requirements:

  1. The veteran’s service time

    • Veterans who entered active duty on or before September 7, 1980, must have served at least 90 days of active duty with at least one day of wartime service.

    • Veterans who entered active duty after September 7, 1980, must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which ordered to active duty, with at least one day of wartime service.

  2. Financial need The veteran’s or survivor’s "countable" family income must fall below the yearly limit set by law. See the maximum yearly income for veterans for 2017.

  3. Age/status of the veteran or survivor(s)

    • The veteran must be either: age 65 or older; totally and permanently disabled; a nursing home patient receiving skilled nursing care; or receiving Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income to be eligible for a pension.

    • The surviving spouse must be un-remarried, of any age, to receive a survivors pension. For dependent children to be eligible, they must be under 18, or under 23 if attending a VA-approved school, or incapable of self-support due to a disability before age 18.

How to Calculate Pension Amounts

For both types of pensions, the benefit amount is the difference between the recipient’s "countable" income and the annual pension limit set by Congress.


How to Apply for VA Pensions

Visit for forms and instructions for applying for a veterans or survivors pension.

Aid & Attendance and Housebound Benefits

Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension may qualify for additional benefits if they require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound. Since these allowances increase the pension amount, people who are not eligible for a basic pension due to excessive income may be eligible for pension at these increased rates.

Visit the VA’s Aid & Attendance and Housebound web page or watch this short video on Aid & Attendance to learn more about eligibility requirements and how to apply.

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Last Updated: November 28, 2017