The Massachusetts Department of Veterans Services (DVS) recently announced that it would make permanent a recent increase in the level of assets that low-income veterans and their families can have while receiving help from a safety net program called Chapter 115. This decision extends a change that allowed more people to access Chapter 115 benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chapter 115 program offers monthly payments to eligible veterans and their families. The program also offers one-time emergency payments.
One of the rules of the Chapter 115 program limits the amount of assets that people can have while receiving help from the program. A person’s assets include the money in their bank account as well as things like stocks, bonds, and other property. Assets only count if they are “liquid,” meaning they are easy to turn into cash. For example, you usually do not need to count your home or your car as assets.
To help veterans and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic, DVS announced on March 29, 2021 that it would increase the amount of assets eligible veterans and their dependents could have while receiving Chapter 115 benefits. These amounts are called “asset allowances.”
Asset allowances can be thought of as “caps” on savings and other assets that beneficiaries can keep while receiving Chapter 115 benefits. If a person and their dependents have assets greater than the allowances, they will need to spend down those assets to the level of the allowance before they will be eligible to receive Chapter 115 benefits.
Under the increased asset caps announced in March, single people receiving Chapter 115 benefits can have up to $8,400 in assets. Recipients of Chapter 115 benefits with dependents can have up to $16,600 in assets, counting the assets of the recipient and all their dependents.
On June 4, 2021, DVS announced that it will make these higher asset caps permanent, which will allow more low-income veterans and families of those who have served to qualify for Chapter 115 benefits. This change will help people with low incomes who may have been able to save more over the past year because of federal stimulus payments or disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because this change is permanent, it will continue to help individuals who are able to build up savings while still meeting other eligibility rules for the Chapter 115 program. The higher caps will remain in place even though the state of emergency due to COVID-19 officially ended on June 15, 2021.
The Veterans Legal Clinic is committed to ensuring that veterans and their families have access to the resources they have earned through their service, especially during a time when so many families have experienced disruption and loss. Veterans can learn more about whether they may be eligible for Chapter 115 benefits by using our online calculator.
Not sure where to start? Help is available.
The Veterans Legal Clinic strongly encourages veterans and their eligible dependents to apply for Chapter 115 benefits. The Chapter 115 program recognizes the service that veterans have provided to our state and our country. It is also an important source of support for the families of those who have served.
Before you apply for benefits, you can use our online calculator to find out whether you might be eligible to receive Chapter 115 benefits and about how much your monthly benefit might be.
Once you are ready to apply, you can find the Chapter 115 benefits application here. To complete the application, you will need documents including your discharge papers, proof of residency, and recent bank statements.
For more information and for help completing your application, please reach out to your Veterans’ Service Officer (VSO). Each town and district in Massachusetts has a VSO who can help veterans and their families learn about and access benefits and other resources. Click here to find your VSO.
If you have trouble applying for Chapter 115 benefits or reaching your VSO, we in the Veterans Legal Clinic want to hear about it. We are working to make sure all eligible veterans and their dependents get the benefits they need.
If DVS denies your application or your benefits are cut off, you have a right to appeal. If you want to request legal help with an appeal or have questions about Chapter 115 rules, please contact the Veterans Legal Clinic intake line at 617-390-2525 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.