VA Pensions

Are you, or do you know someone who served in the U.S. military, at least some of which was during a period of wartime, and has financial and/ or physical hardship?   Do they know that they may receive assistance from the Veterans Administration?

Reprinted from the VA website

Veterans Pension

Supplemental Income for Wartime Veterans

VA helps Veterans and their families cope with financial challenges by providing supplemental income through the Veterans Pension benefit. Veterans Pension is a tax-free monetary benefit payable to low-income wartime Veterans.

Eligibility

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. If you entered active duty after September 7, 1980, generally you must have served at least 24 months or the full period for which you were 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

Your yearly family income must be less than the amount set by Congress to qualify for the Veterans Pension benefit. Learn more about income and net worth limitation, and see an example of how VA calculates the VA Pension benefit.

Additional Pension Allowances

Veterans or surviving spouses who are eligible for VA pension and are housebound or require the aid and attendance of another person may be eligible for an additional monetary payment.

How To Apply

You can apply for Veterans Pension online or download and complete VA Form 21P-527EZ, “Application for Pension”. You can mail your application to the Pension Management Center (PMC) that serves your state. You may also visit your local regional benefit office and turn in your application for processing. You can locate your local regional benefit office using the VA Facility Locator

To apply for increased pension based on A&A or Housebound payments, write to the PMC that serves your state and provide medical evidence, such as a doctor’s report, that validates the need for an increased benefit.

Ask the Chief: interview skills

 The world’s third oldest profession*.

When I was a younger Sailor,  traveling from foreign port to foreign port,  I encountered a lot of outgoing people engaged as vendors, tour guides, shopkeepers and restaurant owners.   Often their families were the wait staff that ran these places or made the things that provided their living.  When your livelihood depends on people, there is an advantage in being a “people person”.

When I was a kid,  I was actually an introvert.  A gangling kid with poor eyesight,  I was not the best athlete nor a glib talker and jokester.  From several moves, a lot of activities that caught my interest,  studying people, and experience in several professions from ranching to construction,  furniture sales and auto parts counter work, I got to talking with and taking an interest in people.  I worked as a bartender and waiter before I went into the military.   One of my dreams, long before I became a technical worker in the telecommunications industry, was opening a bar or restaurant based on what I visited in foreign places.    A kind of dive that had “atmosphere”.   With all that experience of these exotic places and tourists from every part of the world I thought it would be fun.   I had been working in bars and restaurants prior to my military service so it was somewhat familiar.   I learned to speak, or at least communicate in  three foreign languages, Spanish, French and Russian.

The service industry depends on people-skills as well as a strong work ethic.  Marketing.  Being a good listener as well as an observant and diligent service provider.  And have a good memory for people’s names, their likes, and so on.   In France in he early 1990s I saw the “smash sandwich” vendors – paninis as America now knows them – and thought it was a novel idea to bring to these shores.  With the buxom women staffing these kiosks, the Toulon vendors served a lot of sandwiches.   In Turkey, shoeshine boys mobbed visitors, appearing at the dock where our ship’s water taxis deposited them. These  kids knew how to say “shoe shine” and  make small talk about sports, whether you were an American sailor, a Brit, an Arab or perhaps even Chinese tourist.  Even sailors wearing sneakers were not overlooked by boys with pats of shoe polish.    In the markets, almost every vendor spoke some foreign tongue.

Interviewing, like selling,  takes skill and people-smarts

Just as there are people who do not understand the difference between “selling” and “buying”,   there are people who do not understand that the interview is a skill that one perfects.   Preparation,  listening, knowing what and how, to answer a question is part of the interview.   Confidence, balanced with humility,  and understanding the requirements of the job being sought as well as knowing something of you prospective employer, can win the interview.

Technical professionals I have coached have earned an offer of employment, not only from their preparation, but knowing how to “answer the question being asked” with sufficient detail, but not enough to get bogged down.   It is a marketing opportunity to show that you will be an asset to those doing the hiring, but not telling them as much.  And to win their trust, through your personality and likeability.

I know others who are successful gardeners,  pool men, insurance agents and financial counselors.  Some are musicians.  Others are artists and writers.   And still others with a love for and enough experience in hunting, fishing, camping or motor sports, they made professions as guides and teachers.  And they connect with their clients and employers, with the same people-smarts.

 

Commitment and self-improvement

Practicing interviews, such as the “elevator talk” or meeting people in social settings, is valuable.  Listening to people’s names and observing details about those you converse with, not only makes the other person feel valued, but aids in your ability to connect with your message.

Books I have read recently and recommend to everyone,  engineer, actor, or military member in transition,   include  How to Start A Conversation and Make Friends, by Don Gabor (Simon & Shuster),  and the classic,   How to Win Friends and Influence People , by Dale Carnegie.   Another great read and short,  is The One Minute Sales Person, by Spencer Johnson, MD, and Larry Wilson (Harper Collins).  There are also many good books and websites on personal development, the interviewing process in the social media age as well.

 

Selling “you”

In a job interview,  a prepared and confident person builds a relationship and earns trust with the interviewer and the employer.  Beyond the hiring process,  as an employee or consultant, you continue being a student of the company, the people you meet, and learning by asking the right questions.  There is also the times and places you can market yourself for new opportunities in the company, and by demonstrating value – increasing the bottom line,  can use the same interviewing skills to ask for raises as well.

As a manager, you are still engaged in the sales profession.  Whether as team leader, morale booster,  mentor,  recruiter or  discipline agent, you still show the “customer” the value of the company and role that person fills,  which provides their needs and their relationship to the team.

 

People do not want to be “sold” but they do want to “buy”

Just as someone who shops for a new vehicle, kitchen appliance, or bringing on a new team member,  the skill is in recognizing what motivates, interests or is valued by the customer.   A customer looking for the security of business insurance is not going to respond to the agent’s ‘hot buttons’.  And an employer is not going to be encouraged by a prospective employee’s focus on pay rate, vacation earned  or working hours.

Interviewing requires diligent effort and practice.   But the military member also has what many other applicants lack.   Focus.  Endurance.  Attention to detail. And maturity.  As well as experience working under stressful situations and deadlines.  So take charge and carry out your mission.  Interview, interview, interview.  And I have benefited from fifty years of practice.  I am no longer gangling, nor introverted.  I have been a recruiter and meet people everywhere I go.  Though my best friends will tell me I am still not “glib”.

Fair Winds and Following Seas.     – Senior Chief (Ret.)

 

* Wikipedia repeats the quote attributed to Ronald Reagan that a politician is the second-oldest profession.  Prostitution is frequently quipped as the “oldest” profession.

 

Military, Active, Reserve or Retired:

  • If you live in, or are moving to,  the San Diego area,  

  • In the market for a new home, or refinancing an existing one?

Contact Doug Diemer:

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Consider this a personal testimonial as he made my VA Refinance a very smooth transaction in 2016.   I receive no compensation for any referral. 

DoD Announces Policy Change on Transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits

Via DoD Announces Policy Change on Transfer of Post-9/11 GI Bill Benefits:


CTMCS (ret) Summary: DOD has changed policy to increase retention, mandating service members must be under 16 years TAFMS (or Selected Reserve), to elect a transfer to spouse or kids,  and must have 4 years service obligation remaining in order to transfer benefits.

The Defense Department issued a substantive change today to its policy on the transfer by service members in the uniformed services of Post-9/11 GI Bill educational benefits to eligible family member recipients.

Effective one year from the date of this change, eligibility to transfer those benefits will be limited to service members with less than 16 years of total active-duty or selected reserve service, as applicable.

Previously, there were no restrictions on when a service member could transfer educational benefits to their family members. The provision that requires a service member to have at least six years of service to apply to transfer benefits remains unchanged in the policy.

Focus on Retention

“After a thorough review of the policy, we saw a need to focus on retention in a time of increased growth of the armed forces,” said Stephanie Miller, director of accessions policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “This change continues to allow career service members that earned this benefit to share it with their family members while they continue to serve.” This change is an important step to preserve the distinction of transferability as a retention incentive, she added.

If service members fail to fulfill their service obligation because of a “force shaping” event — such as officers involuntarily separated as a result of being twice passed over for promotion or enlisted personnel involuntarily separated as a result of failure to meet minimum retention standards, such as high year of tenure — the change will allow them to retain their eligibility to transfer education benefits even if they haven’t served the entirety of their obligated service commitment through no fault of their own.

All approvals for transferability of Post-9/11 GI Bill continue to require a four-year commitment in the armed forces and, more importantly, the member must be eligible to be retained for four years from the date of election, officials said.

The policy affects service members in the uniformed services, which includes the U.S. Coast Guard as well as the commissioned members of the U.S. Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

editor: emphasis added 

Combat-injured veterans tax relief

undoing the added insult to injury

Of all the things that politicians do that gets people’s dander up,  then-President Obama signed into law  a bill that rights a wrong for combat-injured veterans.   For more than a hundred-thirty thousand  veterans whose combat injuries ended their careers,  the government has ended taxing their severance pay.  The veterans affected served from 1991 (Desert Storm) through the present.

The IRS bulletin :

The Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016, enacted December 2016, allows certain veterans who received lump sum disability severance payments additional time to file a claim for credit or refund of an overpayment attributable to the disability severance payment. The law directed the Secretary of Defense to identify disability severance payments paid after January 17, 1991, that were included as taxable income on Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, but were later determined to be nontaxable and to provide notice of the amount of that payment. The Department of Defense is mailing letters to affected veterans (letters 6060-A and 6060-D) in July 2018.

What this means for some veterans

Veterans discharged from military service due to medical disability may receive a one-time lump sum severance payment. Disability severance pay is taxable income unless the pay results from a combat-related injury or the service member receives official notification from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approving entitlement to disability compensation.

Anyone who received a disability severance payment that was taxed and determines later that the payment qualifies under one of the rules above can file a claim for credit or refund for the tax year in which the disability severance payment was made and was included as income on a tax return.

For veterans who received a lump sum disability severance payment after January 17, 1991, the Combat-Injured Veterans Tax Fairness Act of 2016 may provide additional time to claim a credit or refund for the overpayment attributable to the disability severance payment.

What you need to do

You must complete and file IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, for the tax year the disability severance payment was made carefully following the instructions in the notice mailed by the Department of Defense in July 2018. You must mail the claim generally by the later of:

  • 1 year from the date of the Department of Defense notice, or
  • 3 years after the due date for filing the original return for the year the disability severance payment was made, or
  • 2 years after tax was paid for the year the disability severance payment was made.

If you did not receive the notice from the Department of Defense and you received a disability severance payment after January 17, 1991, that you reported as taxable income, you can still file a claim as long as you attach the necessary documentation to your Form 1040X. You may contact the Defense Finance and Accounting Services to obtain your documentation for submission with the required Form 1040X. See the FAQs for additional information.

Text of the 2016 law:

https://www.warner.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2016/12/senate-passes-bill-to-end-taxation-of-combat-injured-veterans-severance-payments

Ask the Chief: taxes

Retirement pay, states of residence and taxes

 

Edited and sourced  from military benefits :

I believe that we all should contribute what is fair to help our military and contribute to the efficient management of our nation.  That said, we all know that taxation is out of control in many states, without regard to the military service retiree’s sacrifice during their career.   This information should assist a veteran with decisions about where to spend retirement.

Compiled for 2018, a list of all 50 states that exempt (or don’t) all or a portion of military retirement pay.  When and where you settle, after retirement, is up to you, but having some current information should help you with “Uncle’s” hand in your pocket.

Summary:

  • NO personal income tax: 9 states
  • Full military retirement pay subject to tax: 8 states
  • NO tax on military retirement pay: 20 states
  • Partial tax on military retirement pay: 13

 

No state income tax ( no tax on retirement pay):

Alaska
Florida
Nevada
New Hampshire (dividend and interest taxes only)
South Dakota
Tennessee (dividend and interest taxes only)
Texas
Washington
Wyoming

8 States That Do Not exclude Military Retirement Pay from tax:

California
Montana
New Mexico
North Dakota
Rhode Island
Utah
Vermont
Virginia

20 States Don’t Tax Military Retirement Pay:

Alabama
Arkansas
Connecticut
Hawaii
Illinois
Iowa
Kansas
Louisiana
Maine
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
New Jersey
New York
Ohio
Pennsylvania
West Virginia (as of 2018)
Wisconsin

13 States With “Special Provisions” Or Other Consideration For Military Retirement Pay

Arizona – Military retirement pay may be excluded from state taxation up to $2,500.
Colorado – Depending on age, up to $24,000 of military retirement pay may be exempt from state taxes.
Delaware – Taxpayers up to the age of 60 may exclude up to $2,000 of military retirement pay, military retirees aged 60 or older exclude up to $12,500.
District of Colombia – Military retirement pay may be excluded from state taxation up to $3,000 for individuals 62 or older.
Georgia –  has a provision for any retirement income including military retirement pay. Taxpayers who are 62 or older, or permanently and totally disabled regardless of age, may be eligible for a retirement income adjustment on their Georgia tax return. Up to $35,000 ages 62-64 and $65,000 for 65 and older.
Idaho – Retirement benefits to a retired member of the military 65 or older, or disabled and age 62 or older are excluded from state taxes. Such deductions must be reduced by retirement benefits paid under the Federal Social Security Act or the Tier 1 Federal Railroad Retirement Act. The total maximum deductions vary each year.
Indiana – Military retirees may deduct the lesser of actual retirement pay or $5,000, whichever is less. Certain conditions may apply.
Kentucky – All military retirement pay is exempt from state income tax for those who retired prior to 1997. For those who retired after 1997, military retirement pay is subject to state tax when the pay exceeds $41,110.
Maryland – Military retirees don’t pay state income taxes on the first $5,000 of their retirement income. Those over age 65, or who are totally disabled, or who have a spouse who is totally disabled, receive additional state income tax breaks which may vary from year to year.
Nebraska – Retirees must choose (within two years of the retirement date) a seven-year exemption option of 40% or a lifetime exemption option of 15% starting at age 67.
North Carolina – Military retirement pay may not be taxed at all if it meets certain requirements including if the veteran was “vested in the retirement system” for five years as of August 12, 1989. Otherwise, tax exemptions may be applicable up to $4,000 for single returns and $8,000 for joint returns.
Oklahoma – Military retirement pay is exempt either up to 75% or $10,000, whichever is greater, but cannot exceed federal adjusted gross income.
Oregon – Military retirees may qualify for a “federal pension subtraction”. Those considered “special-case” Oregon residents will have their military retirement pay taxed as regular income.
South Carolina – Military retirees with a minimum of 20 years of active duty may exempt up to $3,000 until age 65, after which an exemption of $10,000 applies.
See: https://militarybenefits.info/states-that-do-dont-tax-military-retirement-pay/#ixzz5KmP3NLpq