[Excerpt] The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers pension programs for certain low-income veterans and their surviving spouses and dependent children. This report discusses the Improved Disability Pension, which makes payments to certain low-income veterans, and the Improved Death Pension, which makes payments to certain low-income surviving spouses and dependent children of deceased veterans. To qualify for either program, individuals must have become eligible for payments on or after January 1, 1979. Both pension programs were created by P.L. 95-588, the Veterans and Survivors Pension Improvement Act of 1978.
In addition, this report discusses a special pension program for Medal of Honor recipients.
This report does not discuss several other pension programs that are administered by the VA, such as the Old Law Disability Pension and the Section 306 Disability Pension, which make payments to low-income veterans, and the Old Law Death Pension and the Section 306 Death Pension, which make payments to low-income surviving spouses and dependent children of veterans; these programs apply only to veterans and their survivors who became entitled to such benefits before 1979.
This report also does not discuss pension programs for veterans of specific periods of war before World War I, such as the Civil War, the Indian Wars, and the Spanish-American War.
Finally, this report does not address the military retirement system. For information on that system, see CRS Report RL34751, Military Retirement: Background and Recent Developments, by Kristy N. Kamarck.