Information provided on this page can be found in the 2023 USDVA Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents, Survivors and Caregivers

Pension is a benefit paid to wartime Veterans age 65 or older who have limited or no income. Wartime Veterans who are under 65 years of age are eligible if they are permanently and totally disabled for reasons not related to their military service and not of their own willful misconduct. This is known as a non-service connected disability.

Qualifying Wartime Service

Generally, a Veteran must have at least 90 days of active-duty service, with at least one day during a wartime period to qualify for a VA Pension. Generally, a Veteran who entered active duty after September 7, 1980, must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which the veteran was called or ordered to active duty (with some exceptions), with at least one day during a wartime period. In addition to meeting minimum service requirements, the veteran must be:

  • Age 65 or older; or
  • Totally and permanently disabled; or
  • A patient in a nursing home receiving skilled nursing care; or
  • Receiving Social Security Disability Insurance; or
  • Receiving Supplemental Security Income.

What Is Considered Permanently and Totally Disabled?

  • A patient in a nursing home for long-term care because of a disability; or
  • Disabled, as determined by the Commissioner of Social Security for purposes of any benefits administered by the Commissioner; or
  • Unemployable as a result of disability reasonably certain to continue throughout the life of the person; or
  • Suffering from:
    • Any disability which is sufficient to render it impossible for the average person to follow a substantially gainful occupation, but only if it is reasonably certain that such disability will continue throughout the life of the person; or
    • Any disease or disorder determined by VA to be of such a nature or extent as to justify a determination that persons suffering from that disease or disorder are permanently and totally disabled.

What is Countable Income for Veterans Pension Eligibility Purposes?

Most income received by the Veteran and his or her dependents affects pension eligibility, including earnings, social security, disability and retirement payments, interest and dividends, and net income from farming or business. The income limits are adjusted periodically.

There is no set limit on how much net worth a veteran and his dependents can have, but net worth cannot be excessive. The decision as to whether a claimant's net worth is excessive depends on the facts of each individual case. All net worth should be reported. The VA will determine if a claimant's assets are sufficiently large that the claimant could live off these assets for a reasonable period of time. The VA's needs-based programs are not intended to protect substantial assets or build up an estate for the benefit of heirs.

How Does the VA Calculate Pension?

Annual pension is calculated by first totaling all of the Veteran's countable income and then subtracting any deductions from that total. The remaining countable income is deducted from the appropriate annual income which is determined by the number of the veteran's dependents, if any, and whether or not the veteran is entitled to Housebound or Aid & Attendance benefits. This amount, divided by 12 and rounded to the nearest dollar establishes the Veteran's monthly payment.

Veterans who are more seriously disabled may qualify for Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits. These benefits may not be paid without eligibility for pension.

Aid & Attendance and Housebound

Veterans and survivors who are eligible for a VA pension and require the aid and attendance of another person, or are housebound, may be eligible for additional monetary payment. These benefits are paid in addition to monthly pension, but they are not paid without eligibility for pension.

Since Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefit allowances increase the pension amount, those who are not eligible for a basic pension because they exceed allowable income limits may be eligible for pension at Aid and Attendance or Housebound rates. A veteran or surviving spouse may not receive Aid and Attendance and Housebound benefits concurrently.

Aid & Attendance

The Aid & Attendance (A&A) monthly pension amount may be added to a veteran's monthly pension amount if they meet one of the following conditions:

  • The Veteran requires the aid of another person in order to perform personal functions required in everyday living, such as bathing, feeding, dressing, attending to the wants of nature, adjusting prosthetic devices, or protecting themselves from the hazards of their daily environment;
  • The Veteran is bedridden, in that the disability or disabilities requires the veteran to remain in bed apart from any prescribed course of convalescence or treatment;
  • The Veteran is a patient in a nursing home due to mental or physical incapacity;
  • The Veteran's eyesight is limited to a corrected 5/200 visual acuity or less in both eyes, or concentric contraction of the visual field is 5 degrees or less.


The Housebound monthly pension amount may be added to a veteran's monthly pension amount if the veteran is substantially confined to their immediate premises because of permanent disability.

How to Apply

You can apply for VA Aid and Attendance or Housebound benefits in one of these ways:

Send a completed VA form to your Pension Management Center (PMC)

Fill out VA Form 21-2680 (Examination for Housebound Status or Permanent Need for Regular Aid and Attendance) and mail it to the PMC for your state. You can have your doctor fill out the examination information section. 

Get VA Form 21-2680 to download
Find your Pension Management Center

You can also include with your VA form:

  • Other evidence, like a doctor’s report, that shows you need Aid and Attendance or Housebound care
  • Details about what you normally do during the day and how you get to places
  • Details that help show what kind of illness, injury, or mental or physical disability affects your ability to do things, like take a bath, on your own

Learn about the evidence you’ll need to support your claim

If you’re in a nursing home, you’ll also need to fill out a Request for Nursing Home Information in Connection with Claim for Aid and Attendance (VA Form 21-0779). Get VA Form 21-0779 to download