It has come to my attention that "Low Income" Disabled and Senior Citizen Veterans are not receiving important information about many of the VA and Social Security Benefits available to them. So here's some to start with...

1. Low-Income Veterans age 65 and over who earn less than $846 per month from Social Security Widow or Retirement Income or Disability Insurance or from any other source, and who were in the Service during a period of War regardless whether they were actually in a combat zone or not are "AUTOMATICALLY ENTITLED TO VA's NON-SERVICE CONNECTED DISABILITY PENSION (NSCP) because Federal Veterans Law states that for the purposes of the Non-Service Connected Pension, Veterans AGE 65 AND OVER are considered "AUTOMATICALLY DISABLED" AND UNABLE TO PERFORM A "SUBSTANTIAL GAINFUL OCCUPATION" even if they are not actually disabled. There is also a limit on cash assets which is does include the home in which they reside, furniture, or one vehicle they drive. Veterans should contact the Veterans Service Officer of their choice to see if they qualify.

2. If a Veteran 65 and over does not qualify for VA's NSCP and his or her income from Social Security Widow or Retirement or Disability Income or any other source, is less than $599 per month, and has less than $2,000 in cash assets, then he or she is auotmatically eligible for additional Income from SSI which currently pays $599 per month. They are also eligible for Medicaid. For example if a Senior is receivng $450 from Social Security they would be eligible for another $149 from SSI. Plus their State may also pay for their Medicare monthly payments. The above benefits also apply to non-Veterans who meet the same criteria.

3. Veterans receiving Social Security Widow or Retirement Income or Disability Insurance whose total income is less than approximately $1068 per month for a single person, and whose total cash assets are less than approximately $3000, The State of Florida and probably other States will pay their monthly "Medicare" payment for them. More income is permitted if married... The above benefits also apply to non-Veterans who meet the same criteria.

4. "LIFE-LINE" PROGRAM - The State of Florida Office of the Public Counsel will give a Credit directly to your Local Telephone Service Company of about $13.50 per month for any Low Income Seniors and Low Income Disabled Persons of any age on SSDI or SSI. To apply for "LIFE-LINE" call toll free 1-800-540-7039.

5. Low-Income Veterans who live in Florida and who earn under $846 per month and are not eligible for the NSCP, may also be eligible for help with their monthly Electric and/or Gas bills through their County Social Services Office... There are also Private Non-Profit Organizations that will assist Low-Income Disabled Persons and Seniors with up to $75 once a year for their Gas or Electric bills. If you can find 12 of those Non-Profits it will take care of your Gas and Electric bills 12-months per year. The above benefits also apply to non-Veterans who meet the same criteria.

5. Veterans UNDER 65 YEAR-OLD even if they are receiving Social Security Widow or Retirement Income, are still eligible for SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE (SSDI) which pays approximately $300 more per month than Social Security Widow or Retirement Income. Veterans in this category who cannot perform "Substantial Gainful Activity" due to a Physical or Mental Disability should apply for SSDI directly with the SSA or through an Attorney. The above benefits also apply to non-Veterans who meet the same criteria.

6. Low-Income Veterans whether Disabled or not who do not have a Motor Vehicle and who live in Pinellas County, Florida, may be eligible for a Monthly Bus Pass costing only $4.25 per month through GPTMS. The phone number is 727-545-2100. Similar Programs may be available in other Florida Counties and other States. The above benefits also apply to non-Veterans who meet the same criteria.