Skip to main content

Veteran's Disability Payments - Divisible Marital Property

  • Published: 2013-11-02 : Gary R. Swavely, Jr. (www.readingpalawyer.com).
  • Synopsis: Circumstances where veterans disability benefits could be considered marital property subject to equitable distribution

Main Document

Quote: "The Superior Court noted that there is a three-part test for veterans' disability benefits payments to retain their exempt status."

In Pennsylvania, property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be marital property, although the law sets out an exception for veterans' benefits.

Under Pennsylvania law, property acquired during a marriage is presumed to be marital property, although the law sets out eight exceptions to this presumption. One of those exceptions exempts veterans' benefits.

However, there are circumstances under which money related to veterans disability benefits could be considered marital property subject to equitable distribution. The Pennsylvania Superior Court case of Goodemote v. Goodemote provides one example.

Value of deposited benefits grew during marriage

The parties to the proceeding were married in 1991 and divorced in 2011. The husband was a veteran who served in the Vietnam War. Due to injuries, the husband had received monthly veterans' disability benefits payments continuously since his discharge in 1969.

During the husband's first marriage, which ended in divorce in 1978, the husband opened an investment account, in his name alone, to which he deposited his VA payments. During the parties' marriage, the value of the account grew substantially due to re-investment of the interest and dividends.

The trial court determined that although the account accrued during the course of the parties' marriage, it was not subject to equitable distribution based on the exception for veterans benefits. The wife appealed.

Conversion to a permanent investment

The Superior Court noted that there is a three-part test for veterans' disability benefits payments to retain their exempt status.

Specifically, the funds must:

  • be readily available as needed for support and maintenance;
  • actually retain the qualities of moneys;
  • have not been converted into permanent investments. In the instant case, the husband failed to meet the third prong of the test.

The husband's VA payments were not his only means of support since he was employed full-time for 34 years and received pension payments from his former employer. Indeed, the husband never withdrew any funds from the investment account.

In addition, the investment account was not merely a savings account; rather, it was comprised of several investment portfolios that were subject to gains and losses, including securities, mutual funds and annuities. The federal VA payments lost their exempt status when he converted those funds into a permanent investment.

Thus, the increase in value of the investment account was marital property subject to equitable distribution in the divorce proceeding. The wife was entitled to a 50 percent portion of the increase in value that accrued during the parties' marriage.

Asset division can be difficult

It is crucial that you have a strong advocate to protect your interests in negotiation and litigation of asset division, whether the property is your benefits, your residence, or other assets. Seek an experienced family law attorney who will help you plan for your divorce, work through the grounds for filing, and ensure you receive your fair share of the marital assets.

Related Information:

  1. Anthony C. Starks Law Office (Feb 13, 2011). Leave and Earnings Statement - Information for Military Couples
    https://www.disabled-world.com/news/veterans/leave-earnings.php


Information from our Disability News: Pennsylvania section - (Full List).

Submit disability news, coming events, as well as assistive technology product news and reviews.


Loan Information for low income singles, families, seniors and disabled. Includes home, vehicle and personal loans.


Famous People with Disabilities - Well known people with disabilities and conditions who contributed to society.


List of awareness ribbon colors and their meaning. Also see our calendar of awareness dates.


Blood Pressure Chart - What should your blood pressure be, and information on blood group types/compatibility.





  1. New Peer-reviewed Journal 'Autism in Adulthood' Launching in 2019
  2. People Want to Live Longer - But Only If in Good Health
  3. Canada's Aging Population Signals Need for More Inclusive, Accessible Transportation System
  4. Britain's Unproductive Disabled: A Continuing Moral Panic?

Citation



Disclaimer: Content on Disabled World is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. See our Terms of Service for more information.

Reporting Errors: Disabled World is an independent website, your assistance in reporting outdated or inaccurate information is appreciated. If you find an error please let us know.