These payment cards document pension payments made to disabled veterans of the regular U.S. Army or Navy or their widows between 1907 and 1933. Prior to 1907, pension payments were recorded in pension agency payment books, but in 1907, the pension bureau switched to a card system and transferred all active pensioners to this new system. The system changed again in 1923, when they switched from quarterly to monthly payments. Pension payments made under this new system were recorded on a new card.
There are four classes of cards: those for Army invalids, Army widows, Navy invalids, and Navy widows. The four types of card are very similar. Although the information actually recorded on each card varies, the cards contain the following fields:
- name of veteran
- certificate number
- unit or arm of service
- disability for which pensioned
- law or laws under which pensioned
- class of pension or certificate
- rate of pension
- effective date of pension
- date of the certificate
- any fees paid
- name of the pension agency or group transferred
from (if applicable)
- date of death
- date the Bureau was notified
- former roll number
On the widows’ cards, the woman’s name replaces the veteran's, and the veteran's name replaces the disability information. There is also a space for payments made to minors. Since payments were made to widows as well as to the veterans themselves, your military ancestor might have a pension payment card even if he died before 1907.
On Fold3, the cards are organized alphabetically by the surname and then given name of the veteran, even for the widows’ cards. This will save you time, as it eliminates the hassle of looking up a veteran’s pension under the name of his widow.
Keep in mind that there might be more than one person with the same name, so double check that it really is your ancestor. If you can’t find the person you’re looking for in the records, try looking under any nicknames or aliases your ancestor may have used and also check alternative spellings.