Is Social Security Considered Income for VA Pension Determination?

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VA Pension is one of the disability benefits the Department of Veterans Affairs pays to service members who have returned home. If you qualify to receive these benefits, you receive a monthly payment that you may use to pay your monthly expenses. If you receive Social Security benefits, you may be eligible to receive both types of benefits at the same time. However, most Social Security benefits are considered income for VA Pension purposes.

VA Pension

VA Pension is disability benefit that the Department of Veterans Affairs provides to eligible veterans. To qualify to receive VA Pension benefits, you must be age 65 or older, or you must be totally and permanently disabled. As part of the requirements to receive VA Pension benefits, you also must have low income. One requirement is that you must have served for at least 90 days and one day during a war period. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs publication Veterans Pension Program, if you served after 1980, you must have served for at least 24 months or the full period for which you were called to serve to qualify to receive benefits.

Social Security Benefits

If you receive Social Security retirement benefits or Social Security Disability benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs considers your benefits to be part of your countable income when determining your eligibility to receive VA Pension benefits. Countable income is your total income, earned and unearned, minus allowable deductions. Your total countable income not only determines your eligibility, but it also determines the amount of benefits you receive. Therefore, the higher your income becomes due to any of these two types of Social Security benefits, the lower your VA Pension benefit will be.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income is another Social Security program that pays disability benefits. However, unlike the Social Security Retirement program and the Social Security Disability program, any SSI benefits you receive do not count as part of your income to determine your eligibility for VA Pension benefits or your VA Pension benefit amount. SSI payments are not counted as income for VA Pension purposes, regardless of how much you are receiving in monthly SSI benefits. However, the Social Security Administration does count VA Pension benefits as part of your income to determine your eligibility to receive SSI benefits. This means that, although you may be able to receive VA Pension benefits, these benefits may increase your income in such a way that you are no longer eligible to receive SSI benefits.

Family Members

The Department of Veterans Affairs also considers the income of family members who live with you as countable income. This includes dependents, children and spouses. This means that, although you might not receive any Social Security benefits, if any of your family members is receiving either Social Security retirement or disability benefits, the Department of Veterans Affairs also considers these payments as part of your income. Therefore, excluding SSI benefits, your eligibility to receive VA Pension benefits is also dependent on whether your family members receive Social Security benefits.

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