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VA Survivors Pension benefit rates

Learn about VA Survivors Pension benefit rates. If you qualify for this benefit as a surviving spouse or dependent child, we’ll base your payment amount on the difference between your countable income and a limit that Congress sets (called the Maximum Annual Pension Rate, or MAPR).

  • Your countable income is how much you earn, including your salary, investment and retirement payments, and any income you may have from your dependents. Some expenses, like non-reimbursable medical expenses (paid medical expenses not covered by your insurance provider), may reduce your countable income.

  • Your MAPR amount is the maximum amount of pension payable to a Veteran, surviving spouse, or child. Your MAPR is based on how many dependents you have and whether you qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits. MAPRs are adjusted each year for cost-of-living increases. You can find your current MAPR amount using the tables below.

Example: You’re a qualified surviving spouse with one dependent child. You also qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits. Your yearly income is $10,000.

Your MAPR amount = $17,586
Your yearly income = $10,000
Your VA pension = $7,586 for the year (or $632 paid each month)

What’s the net worth limit to qualify for a Survivors Pension?

We’ve recently changed the way we assess net worth to make the pension entitlement rules more clear. Net worth is the total of your or your beneficiary’s assets and annual income. You should report all of your net worth. The net worth limit to qualify for a Survivors Pension as of December 1, 2019, is $129,094.

Note: In the future, the net worth limit will increase by the same percentage as Social Security cost-of-living increases. We’ll update the limit here when there’s an increase.

What’s the 3-year look-back period for asset transfers?

When we receive a pension claim, we review the terms and conditions of any assets the survivor may have transferred in the 3 years before filing the claim.

If you transfer assets for less than fair market value during the look-back period, and those assets would've pushed your net worth above the limit for a VA Survivors Pension, you may be subject to a penalty period of up to 5 years. You won’t be eligible for pension benefits during this time.

Note: This new policy took effect on October 18, 2018. If you filed your claim before this date, the look-back period doesn’t apply. (A look-back period never includes a date before October 18, 2018.)

What’s a penalty period?

A penalty period is a length of time when a survivor isn’t eligible for pension benefits, because they transferred assets for less than fair market value during the look-back period. This may apply if those transferred assets would've caused the survivor's net worth to be over the limit mentioned above. However, not every asset transfer is subject to this penalty.

If we determine you're subject to a pension penalty, we wouldn't pay pension benefits during the penalty period.

Find your Maximum Annual Pension Rate (MAPR) amount

Date of cost-of-living increase: December 1, 2019
Increase factor: 1.6%
Standard Medicare deduction: Actual amount will be determined by SSA based on individual income.

For qualified surviving spouses with at least 1 dependent:

If you have 1 dependent child and… Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $):
If you have 1 dependent child and… You don’t qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $): 12,072
If you have 1 dependent child and… You qualify for Housebound benefits Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $): 14,116
If you have 1 dependent child and… You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $): 17,586
If you have 1 dependent child and… You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits and you’re the surviving spouse of a Veteran who served in the Spanish-American War (SAW) Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $): 18,119

Notes:

  • The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/Minimum Income Annuity (MIW) limitation is $9,224.
  • If you have more than 1 child, add $2,351 to your MAPR amount for each additional child.
  • If you have a child who works, you may exclude their wages up to $12,400.
  • If you have medical expenses, you may deduct only the amount that’s above 5% of your MAPR amount ($603 for a surviving spouse with 1 dependent).

For qualified surviving spouses with no dependents:

If you have no dependents and… Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $):
If you have no dependents and… You don’t qualify for Housebound or Aid and Attendance benefits Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $): 9,224
If you have no dependents and… You qualify for Housebound benefits Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $): 11,273
If you have no dependents and… You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $): 14,742
If you have no dependents and… You qualify for Aid and Attendance benefits and you’re the surviving spouse of a Veteran who served in the Spanish-American War (SAW) Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $): 15,339

Notes:

  • The Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/Minimum Income Annuity (MIW) limitation is $9,224.
  • If you have medical expenses, you may deduct only the amount that’s above 5% of your MAPR amount ($461 for a surviving spouse with no dependent child).

For qualified surviving children:

If you’re… Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $):
If you’re… A qualified surviving child Your MAPR amount is (in U.S. $): 2,351

Historic VA Survivors Pension rate tables

View VA Survivors Pension rate tables from past years:

2019 rates (effective December 1, 2018)
2018 rates (effective December 1, 2017)
2017 rates (effective December 1, 2016)

Full Title 38 regulations

Read the full regulations from Title 38 Code of Federal Regulations:

3.23 Improved pension rates—Veterans and surviving spouses

3.24 Improved pension rates—surviving children

3.271 “Income” for VA purposes (IVAP)

3.272 Exclusions from income

3.273 Rate computation

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