Many of my clients are former military and although I’ve never served in uniform myself, I like to think I’m serving my country in my own small way by helping our veterans prepare for their retirement.
Most of us have heard about the pension that is associated with military service. Most of us have also heard about the benefits from Veterans Affairs hospitals. That’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to benefits available to those who served our country. With Veterans Day right around the corner, I want to highlight the basic pension and some additional resources available to those who have served.
Basic Military Pension
Veterans with 20 or more years of service receive a monthly annuity pension for life based on a calculation of 2% or 2.5% per year served depending on when they joined the military and the retirement system they are in.
Some military retirees do not pay federal income taxes on their military pensions, and, in contrast to some their federal government counterparts, veterans who have retired from military service can also qualify for Social Security benefits in addition to their military pension.
As mentioned above, veterans receive benefits beyond just their pension, and veterans who did not serve the full 20 years required to receive a military pension may also be eligible for some of these benefits, including a range of health care coverage options, VA education benefits, VA-backed home loans, life insurance, Social Security, and more.
Health coverage can be a big obstacle to pre-retirees, but it’s a necessary and essential element to consider when planning for a successful retirement. It can be expensive to pay for before Medicare begins at age 65, so veterans who qualify for health benefits through the VA are a step ahead and should look into taking full advantage of this benefit.
A few of my clients are disabled veterans and have found that navigating the military disability environment can be daunting. The numerous programs to help our disabled veterans need to be considered when creating your retirement plan.
In some cases, VA disability compensation is available for some conditions related to your military service. As stated on the U.S. government’s website, “Disability compensation is for an illness or injury that happens because of, or was made worse by, your military service. It’s not income-based and war service is not required.”
In contrast to the military pension given for 20-plus years of service, there is also a VA pension for low-income war veterans who may have a disability that is not service related or because of age. This pension is based on income.
Other disability benefits include aid and attendance (A&A) or housebound benefits, housing grants, and more.
Navigating all of the resources and benefits available to veterans can be overwhelming. Luckily, some organizations can help. During a recent meeting with a client, I asked him to name a few of the organizations that he thought were important for all veterans to know about, and this is what he said:
One of the best parts of my job is helping those who served our country with their retirement. I take pride in what I do every day, and helping those who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces fills me with a sense of patriotism, and gratitude. As Veterans Day approaches, we proudly declare that we honor the brave men and women who have served our great country. Thank you for protecting us and keeping our freedoms safe.
Learn more about Jason LaBarge at www.jasonlabarge.com.
Registered Representatives offering securities through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity. Opinions expressed are that of the author and are not endorsed by the named broker dealer or its affiliates. The views stated in this letter are not necessarily the opinion of Cetera Advisor Networks LLC. For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice.
Jason LaBarge, Managing Partner at Premier Planning Group
115 West Street, Suite 400 Annapolis, MD 21401 443-837-2520