Pension Insider
By David Austin
September 7, 2018                       


Social Security Bonus Most Retirees Overlook

There are a handful of little-known "Social Security secrets" or what’s known as Social Security “Insider Knowledge” that could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example, one such entitlement could pay you as much as $17,000+ a year.  Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, you could retire confidently and peacefully knowing that your Social Security benefits are in place.


Here are two “Insider Knowledge” entitlements you may not be aware of:


1.  If you’re in a marriage that you want to end, and it been less than 10 years, you may want to wait to get a divorce.  After 10 years of marriage you have a stake in your ex-spouse’s Social Security benefits. If you terminate the marriage before 10 years you will not be eligible for your ex-spouse SS benefits.   When you surpass the 10 year mark, and then file for a divorce, it will make you eligible for up to half of your ex’s earnings or on the basis of your own earnings, whichever is higher. This is particularly important if one partner stayed home with the kids while the other worked.












2.  If an ex-spouse passes away, you may be able to receive benefits similar to a widow or widower. If you are at least 60, and your marriage lasted at least 10 years and you didn’t remarry before age 60, you’ll most likely be able to collect your late spouse’s social security benefits.


VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities [Update]

Effective August 13, 2018, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)  updated portions of the VA Schedule of Rating Disabilities that evaluate conditions related to the skin. VA is updating all 15 body systems of the VASRD. Claims for service-connected disability compensation for skin conditions pending prior to August 13, 2018, will be considered under both the old and new criteria. Claims filed on or after August 13, 2018, will be rated under the new rating schedule. Any veteran who believes he/she may have health-related skin issues from military service may want to file a claim for service-connected disability for the skin condition.











New Bill Passed for Service-Connected Veteran Employees


Thanks to the Veterans Transition Improvement Act, newly hired veterans in frontline medical positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) (such as doctors, registered nurses, chiropractors, or physician assistants) can finally take the paid sick leave they need to receive care for service-connected injuries or diseases.  The law closes the loophole in a previous law that prohibited these employees from receiving the same Wounded Warrior Act benefits veteran employees in other federal agencies received. 
This change provides immediate paid sick leave for veteran employees in their first year of work that they otherwise would have to accrue over time or take unpaid leave to receive care for their service-connected injuries. 

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VA Will Allow Veterans To Select Burial Sites

A rule change at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will allow veterans to apply for burial in national cemeteries before their death, rather than requiring family members to apply on their behalf after it.

Veteran burial benefits previously were approved at the "time of need." For families, that meant waiting until after the veteran died to apply for the benefits via fax or email by sending in a copy of the veteran's DD Form 214 or separation documents and then following up by phone.


The rule change instead allows veterans to be approved for burial in a VA national cemetery "pre-need," or before death, through a form submitted by fax, email or mail. The form can be filled out by the veteran or by someone else on his or her behalf.


More than four million people are buried in VA cemeteries.


The change is an easy way for the VA to simplify the burial process for grieving families, officials with the Veterans of Foreign Wars said, and allow veterans to put their affairs in order.


Predetermination forms can be submitted by fax to 1-855-840-8299, or emailed to or mailed to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, MO 63151, according to the VA.