Veterans benefits 2020: Most popular state benefit
U.S. states offer Veterans a wide range of benefits. State representatives provided VA the most popular benefit for Veterans, part of a five-part series. Below is a list of the benefits in alphabetical order by state.
“Alabama’s beautiful State Veterans Homes are our most popular Veteran benefit because we provide more than just skilled care to our heroes, we provide a home filled with love, honor, and compassion. With amazing support from our communities, we are able to provide activities and outings which keep our residents active and engaged and improve their quality of life. We currently have four State Veterans Homes all with waiting lists and are planning the construction of our fifth State Veterans Home.” – Kim Justice, executive director, State Veterans Homes.
“The most popular state benefit is the Alaska Property Tax Exemption. This exemption provides a tax break on the first $150,000 of assessed value of the home for Veterans with a 50% or greater disability rating either by the military or the VA.” – Verdie Bowen Sr., director, Office of Veterans Affairs
“One of Arizona’s most popular state benefits are special license plates that recognize and honor military Veterans. Most popular are the Veteran, Women Veteran, and Freedom Special Plates. Each plate requires a $25.00 initial application fee and $25.00 renewal fee. Of the $25.00 fee, $17.00 is deposited into the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services Veteran Donation Fund. Pursuant to Arizona Revised Statutes § 41-608, the Veteran Donation Fund is used to provide grants to nonprofit organizations for the benefit of Veterans in Arizona.” – Wanda Wright, director
“California’s most popular benefit is our home loan program. Using Qualified Veterans Mortgage Bonds, California provides flexible financing for Veterans purchasing homes in the state of California. The servicing of the loans remains with the department for the life of the loan, and this popular benefit includes exceptional fire, hazard, earthquake, and flood insurance.” – Theresa Gunn, deputy secretary, CalVet Home Loans
“The tax exemption on homes is the most popular but limited to 100% permanent and totally disabled Veterans. Given that, the most popular benefit that most Veterans can receive is Disabled Veteran license plates. The DV plates, which waive license tax on one vehicle, pertains to Veterans at 50% or more service connected and permanent and totally disabled Veterans.” – Richard J. Tremaine, director, Division of Veterans Affairs
“Connecticut’s most popular state benefit is the Veteran designation with American Flag on the State Driver’s License and on non-license ID Cards, which is used by community based organizations, agencies and retailers to verify Veteran status for various local and state programs, services and discounts. To receive Veteran’s flag on an existing Connecticut license or identity card, the Veteran must submit documentation (DD-214 or pre 1950 WG AGO Discharge certificate) of qualifying active federal service, not including initial entry training; or Entitled to retirement pay under 10 USC Chapter 1223, as amended from time to time, or, but for age, would be entitled. The characterization of Honorable Discharge, General under Honorable Conditions, or Other Than Honorable (OTH) if deemed eligible is pursuant to Connecticut’s OTH benefits law.” – Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Thomas J. Saadi
“The most popular state benefit are the various Veterans license plates.” – Larence Kirby, executive director, Office of Veterans Services
Special license plates are available through the Department of Motor Vehicles for: Former Prisoners Of War, Formerly Missing-In-Action, Purple Heart Recipients, Medals of Valor Recipients, Disabled Veterans, Delaware National Guard & Reserve Members, Retired Military, Korean War Veterans, Vietnam War Veterans, Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), and Gold Star Lapel Button.
“Eligible resident Veterans with a VA certified service-connected disability of 10% or greater shall be entitled to a $5,000 deduction on the assessment of their home for tax exemption purposes. Real estate owned and used as a homestead by an honorably discharged Veteran with a service-connected, permanent and total disability is exempt from taxation. Any partially disabled Veteran who is age 65 or older, any portion of whose disability was combat-related, and who was honorably discharged, may be eligible for a discount from the amount of ad valorem tax on the homestead commensurate with the percentage of the Veteran’s permanent service-connected disability. A growing economy, mild winters and the lack of a state income tax attract many Veterans and their families to Florida. To keep them here, we offer unique benefits such as in-state tuition rates for Veterans and their families using the Post-9/11 GI Bill, several layers of property tax exemptions, expanded Veterans’ preference, and extensive benefits, licensure and fee waivers for many activities and occupations.” – James S. “Hammer” Hartsell, deputy executive director, Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs
“One of the most popular state benefits in Georgia is free license plates for Veterans. License plates are available in a special Veteran themed design, with options available to highlight a Veteran’s branch of service, their era of service, or a special military decoration they received during their service. License plates are also available for disabled Veterans at no charge.” – Mike Roby, Georgia’s commissioner of Veterans Service
“Another popular state benefits in Georgia is a free driver’s license for Veterans or an honorary license for their spouse. The license features an American flag and a Veteran designation in the corner. The license is free for Veterans who meet a residency and service requirement but is available for a small fee for Veterans who do not meet the qualifications. License plates are also available for disabled Veterans at no charge.” – Mike Roby, Georgia’s commissioner of Veterans Service
“Hawaii’s Most popular state benefit is the Totally Disabled Veterans Real Property Tax Exemption. Each island has their own tax exemption benefit in place.” – Ronald Han, Director State Office of Veterans’ Services
“The most popular benefit are the reduced hunting & fishing license and tag fees available. Idaho provides resident disabled Veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 40% or greater $5.75 combination hunting and fishing licenses and reduced tag fees. Nonresident disabled Veterans can obtain hunting licenses for $31.75 and reduced tag fees. This provides significant cost savings for Veteran hunters and fishers.” – Kevin Wallior, Idaho Division of Veterans Services management assistant
“Illinois’ newest benefit is the Veteran designation for Illinois state driver’s licenses. This has quickly become our most popular benefit in terms of the number of Veterans who have obtained it. Our most popular monetary benefit is the Illinois Veterans Grant/Illinois National Guard Grant.” – Linda Chapa LaVia, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs
“Indiana has tuition and fee exemption for children of disabled Veterans, children of Purple Heart recipients, and children of POWs. Remission of tuition and fees for children of disabled Veterans (at least 0% service-connected) who served during a period of war or participated in equally hazardous duty, or the children of Purple Heart recipients, or the children of prisoners of war. This may be used at approved state-sponsored universities for up to 124 credits. – Joseph J. DeVito, outreach director, Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs
Indiana Veterans can learn more about all of the benefits offered at www.in.gov/dva.
“Our Homeownership Assistance Program that provides $5,000 for first time Veteran homebuyers, our Veterans License Plates – which contributes to our License Plate Fund, and our Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License programs are all among our most popular programs.” – Karl J. Lettow, public information
“Kansas offers a wide variety of hunting and fishing opportunities because of an abundance of wildlife and numerous water resources.” – Kansas Commission on Veterans Affairs Director Gregg Burden
Veterans in Kansas may be eligible for hunting and fishing fee discounts and should visit Kansas Wildlife and Parks at www.ksoutdoors.com for more information.
“Kentucky waives tuition at all state colleges and universities for dependents of certain Veterans, including those who died on active duty, died as a direct result of a service-connected disability, and those who are 100 percent service-connected disabled or receiving a non-service connected pension. This benefit is so popular that people move to Kentucky specifically to take advantage of this benefit.” – Sophi Thompson, Tuition Waiver Program coordinator
“Our most popular benefit is our structure in that Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs has a close working relationship with all 64 of our parishes. We have 74 parish service offices across the state that are accessible to all of our Veterans and their families. Our offices are staffed by highly-trained, federally-accredited Veterans assistance counselors that are employees of the State of Louisiana. As a result of our unique structure, we are able to provide the best opportunity to take advantage of the plethora of available benefits.” – Joey Strickland, Secretary, Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs
“Maine’s most popular benefit that our Veterans take advantage of is the Maine Resident Lifetime Veteran State Park and Museum Pass. Any Veteran who resides in the State of Maine, that received an honorable discharge from military service is eligible to receive a pass. The pass gives the Veteran free admission to State Parks across the state as well as the Maine State Museum.” – David Richmond, director, Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services
“Maryland provides a number of state benefits to Veterans and their dependents. Based on inquiries received by the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, the most popular state benefit is the property tax exemption for Veterans who are rated at 100% disabled. The property tax exemption allows this unique population of Veterans to be fully exempt from property taxes on their primary dwelling.” – George Owings, secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs
“Our most popular state benefit for emergent needs is the Michigan Veterans Trust Fund (MVTF). The MVTF provides emergency grants to help combat-era Veterans and their families weather unforeseen, temporary financial emergencies. Emergency grants cover expenses such as utility bills, home repairs, transportation and mortgage assistance.” – Lindell Holm, Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency/MVTF executive secretary
“Our most popular service is the VA Claims representation provided by our staff and our largest program financially is the State Soldiers Assistance Program.” – Larry Herke, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs
“Mississippi’s most popular state benefit for totally disabled Veterans is the homestead exemption. If a Veteran has been honorably discharged with total disability, he or she is exempt from all Ad Valorem taxes on the assessed value of homestead property. Another popular benefit is free access to all State Parks and Recreational Facilities. All Veterans are eligible for this perk.” – Stacey Pickering, executive director of Mississippi Veterans Affairs
“The Missouri State Veterans Services Program has 44 accredited service officers offering assistance to Veterans, widow/widower of a Veteran, Veterans child or a parent who has lost a son or daughter in military service. Service officers provide counseling and assistance when you have questions about compensation, pensions, education benefits, life insurance, medical benefits, state benefits and burial benefits. They are networked within the supported communities. If federal and state benefits are not enough, our VSO’s know local community agencies who might provide assistance.” – Ryon Richmond, acting executive director, Missouri Veterans Commission
“Montana’s most popular state benefit is the Veteran Designation on the drivers’ licenses. An MOU between Montana Veteran’s Affairs Division and the Department of Motor Vehicles allows us to verify Veteran status in order to have the Veteran designation on their drivers’ licenses for a fee of $10.” – Kelly Ackerman, administrator, Montana Veterans Affairs Division
“The Nebraska Veterans Registry is the most popular benefit based on the fact that out of the 125,000 Veterans in Nebraska 85,000 plus are registered with the State of Nebraska. This allows for easy application for benefits provided such as military license plates and special discounts sometimes offered at establishments throughout the state. This also eases outreach to Veterans by the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs.” – John Hilgert, Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs director
“Nevada’s most popular state benefit is a state income tax exemption for all! Because Nevada does not have a state income tax, all residents including Veterans are exempt.” – Julie Dudley, communications director
“In my opinion, New Hampshire’s most popular state Veteran benefit is most likely it’s property tax credits. Depending on what city or town you live in, New Hampshire offers qualified Veterans a tax credit for up to $750 annually and if you are a 100% permanently and totally disabled Veteran (as determined by the Veterans Benefit Administration), you will be eligible for up to $4,000 in property tax relief.” – William Gaudreau, director, NH Division of Veteran Services
“Veterans are eligible for a $6,000 exemption on your income tax return if you are a military Veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States on or any time before the last day of the tax year. Your spouse (or civil union partner) is also eligible for an exemption if he/she is a Veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances and you are filing a joint return. This exemption is in addition to any other exemptions you are entitled to claim and is available on both the resident and nonresident returns.” – Patricia A. Richter, acting director, Division of Veterans Services
The most popular state benefit available to New Mexico’s 154,000 Veterans, according to the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services, is the Veterans State Property Tax Exemption.
This is an exemption of up to a $4,000 reduction in the taxable value of a Veteran’s primary residence for county property taxation purposes. This benefit is also available to non-remarried surviving spouses of Veterans who would have otherwise qualified for this benefit. Any Veteran who has been rated 100% service-connected disabled (permanent & total) by VA and is a legal resident of New Mexico qualifies for a complete property tax waiver for their primary residence.
“New York’s most popular state benefit is the FreshConnect Checks program. This program in collaboration with Agriculture and Markets, allows Veterans and their families to access $20 in fresh food vouchers to be used at farmers markets across New York.” – Joel Evans, executive deputy director, New York State Division of Veterans’ Services
“The most popular North Carolina state benefit is Veteran license plates and the tax exclusion for 100% disabled Veterans.” – Martin Falls, chief deputy secretary for the North Carolina Department of Military and Veteran Affairs
“Every county in Ohio has a Veterans Service Commission, who employ Veterans service officers to assist Ohio Veterans with benefits, transportation, and even financial assistance- all at no charge to Veterans.” – Sean McCarthy, assistant director, Department of Veterans Services
“Veteran Recognition License Plates are very popular in Oregon for Veterans, disabled Veterans, and their families. This program includes multiple recognition plate options that allow Veterans to display pride in their military service, all while helping to support work for fellow Veterans and their families through organizations such as the Oregon Veterans’ Homes and Gold Star Families, both of which receive a portion of the registration fees charged for some plates.” – Ana Potter, Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs Aging Veterans Services director
“Pennsylvania’s most popular state benefit is by far the Real Estate Tax Exemption. This program, administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, provides real estate tax exemption for any honorably discharged Veteran who is 100 percent disabled, a resident of the commonwealth and has a financial need. More than 14,000 Pennsylvania Veterans are enrolled in the program, which grows by about 1,000 Veterans each year.” – Joel H. Mutschler, director of the Bureau of Veterans Programs, Initiatives, Reintegration, and Outreach
Pennsylvania Veterans can learn more about the Real Estate Tax Exemption program at dmva.pa.gov.
“The most popular state benefit is Rhode Island National Guard members receive free tuition.” – Kasim Yarn, director, Rhode Island Office of Veterans Services
“All persons who have been declared permanently and totally disabled by the Social Security Administration, VA, or other state or federal agencies, are eligible for a homestead exemption in an amount set by the General Assembly. This also applies to persons over age 65.” – Brandon C. Wilson, public information director
South Dakota’s most popular state benefit is the bonus program. The state of South Dakota awards a bonus to active duty military members and Veterans who meet service qualifications.
“Regardless of service era, we take an all-inclusive approach to ensure all Veterans have access to their benefits,” said Greg Whitlock, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs.
Whitlock encourages Veterans to contact their local county or tribal Veterans service officers or the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs office (605-773-3269) to learn more about their benefits. Veterans can also visit https://vetaffairs.sd.gov/ or https://www.facebook.com/SDDVA/.
“Tennessee’s most popular Veteran benefit is the property tax relief for certain 100% disabled Veterans and their surviving spouses for up to $175,000 of the property’s assessed value. Determination of eligibility for a homeowner who is a disabled Veteran or widow(er) of a disabled Veteran will be made based on information provided by the VA through use of consent forms.” – Ron Dvorsky, Tennessee Department of Veterans Services resource coordinator training officer
“From September 2019 through April 30, 2020, the Texas Veterans Commission (TVC) Claims Department has assisted over 7,000 Veterans in receiving over $250 million in retroactive payments plus annual increases. I’d say that shows the TVC claims program is very popular.” – Thomas P. Palladino, executive director of the Texas Veterans Commission
“Utah’s Veterans Property Tax Abatement is widely used designed to reduce certain property taxes Veterans owe on normally taxed property, to include homes, automobiles and recreational vehicles. The tax reduction is based on the level of a disability rating as determined by VA.” – Gary Harter, executive director of Utah’s Department of Veterans and Military Affairs
“Virginia’s VA claims assistance program. This program has over 100 full time staff dedicated to assisting transitioning service members and Veterans prepare, and when necessary, appeal their VA disability compensation and pension claims.” – Thomas Herthel, deputy commissioner for the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
In 2019, VDVS staff helped over 200,000 Veterans submit over 70,000 claims and appeals. Additionally, VDVS has a dedicated team of appeals attorneys and specialists who assist Veterans before the Board of Veterans Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and advocate on their behalf. In all, Virginia’s Veterans received over $3.5 billion in federal disability claims benefits in Federal Fiscal Year 2019.
“Washington offers free license plates for disabled Veterans, Purple Heart and Gold Star, as well as free camping for Veterans with 30% or greater disability.” – Liza Narciso, assistant to the director, Washington Department of Veterans Affairs
“West Virginia provides funds each year to pay for education and training opportunities that do not qualify under VA guidelines. This gives our Veterans a second opportunity for success.” – Cabinet Secretary Dennis Davis
“WDVA’s online tool, MyWisVets.com, makes it easy for Wisconsinites to check their eligibility benefits, upload supporting documents, apply for grants, pre-register at our Veterans homes or for an internment, and more. MyWisVets.com is supported by WDVA’s Veterans Benefits Resource staff, who are also available by phone, email, or via our Live Chat feature on the WDVA website to support Veterans with state and federal benefits questions.” – Donald Placidi Jr., Division of Veterans Benefits administrator, Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs