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Biographical Description

Although early pension requests were processed through the United States Congress, an expansion of benefits and an expanded eligibility pool precipitated the need for a special pensions processing unit by 1810. This unit, originally called the Office of Military Bounty Lands and Pensions, was under the auspices of the War Department. In 1815 the Bounty Land and Pensions divisions split into separate bureaus and by 1816 it was colloquially referred to as the Pension Office. The Pension Bureau's chief clerk, often a senior clerk for the larger War Department, was responsible for processing the claims but held no official title until 1833. That year following the flood of new pension applications as a result of the 1832 Pension Act, the War Department officially created a Commissioner of Pensions, the first of whom was James L. Edwards. Later when the federal government created the Department of the Interior in 1849, the Pension Office was moved there from the War Department. The Pension Office remained with the Department of the Interior until 1930 when it was moved to it's current home in Veterans' Administration, or the Department of Veterans Affairs.

For more information about the early history of U.S. Pension Office, see the History of Pension Legislation Page.