Compton: Benefit recipients can qualify for economic stimulus payment
By George Compton
Q. I am the widow of a veteran, and my only income is dependents indemnity compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs. I have no taxable income, so do I qualify for a special stimulus payment?
A. Under the economic stimulus payment instructions (IRS rebate), an individual receiving veterans benefits (disability compensation, pension and survivors benefits) is eligible to count those benefits to reach the $3,000 qualifying income level. Anyone who reaches the $3,000 qualifying income level is eligible to receive a payment of $300 ($600 on a joint return).
To receive the payment, one who qualifies must file a form 1040 or form 1040A to the IRS.
The IRS understands that an individual receiving benefits from the VA does not get a W-2 form. Instead, it is allowable to estimate the annual VA benefit by taking the monthly benefit and multiplying it by the number of months in the year that the benefit was received.
The estimated benefit should be reported on line 20a of the form 1040 or line 14a of the form 1040A. The form lines mention Social Security only, but IRS guidance allows for this change.
One who is receiving Social Security benefits and VA benefits should put the total of those benefits on the appropriate line.
This office has a copy of the IRS fact sheet. The IRS has a Web site at http://www.irs.gov. That site will continue to update information on the program. The IRS toll-free number is 800-829-1040.
I recommend the Web site because the phone number will probably be overloaded.
Q. My husband has been a smoker for many years. Now that we have grandchildren with us most of the time, he is ready to stop.
Does the VA have a local program that will help?
A. Ventura County Public Health has a great tobacco-education program that should be able to help.
The admission requirements for the program are to be a resident of or to work in Ventura County and be ready to quit smoking.
The program has support groups throughout the county and has free nicotine replacement therapy. Call 201-7867.
— George Compton, retired Army colonel, is the veterans service officer for the County of Ventura Human Services Agency. Send your questions to Veterans Service Office, 1701 Pacific Ave., Suite 110, Oxnard, CA 93033; phone number: 385-6366, fax: 385-6371, or e-mail: George.Compton@ventura.org.