There is a pension out there for disabled or retired military veterans that is relatively unknown and could help families bear the cost of up to $24,000 in assisted living care.

Through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Non-Service Connected — Improved Pension Benefit, also referred to as the Aid and Attendance Benefit, is available for wartime veterans who meet three main eligibility requirements. The veteran must not have been dishonorably discharged, they must have served 90 days of active duty with one day served during a declared state of war, and they must be permanently and totally disabled or be at least age 65. They must also have it in writing by a doctor that they need assisted living care.

“It was adopted in November 1951 and even today very few veterans and their families are aware of it,” said Steve Twomey, representative of Integrity Associates, a company that assists veterans through the application process.

Twomey said that up to 2 million American veterans are potentially missing out on the benefit, for a total of $22 billion in financial relief. Also only 1 in 7 widows and widowers who may qualify actually receive checks each month through this pension program.

The cut off for cash assets is $80,000, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that veterans who do hold that amount will not receive the pension. It depends on a number of factors, Twomey said, including age.

He said Integrity Associates does the application as a community service and does not charge for handling and submission. There could be fees associated with tax preparation and other legal needs, however.

This pension would replace what veterans receive from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs from disabilities. A single veteran could receive up to $20,446, a widow or widower could receive $13,137, and a veteran and their spouse could receive $24,238 each year for the pension, which is tax free.

“It is directed toward the financial benefit of the family unit,” Twomey said.

To find out more information, call the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at 1 (800) 827-1000 or Integrity Associates at (602) 295-9613. Or visit the VA’s website,

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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