Benefits in my backyard

Jonathan Kaupanger
April 09, 2018 - 1:31 pm

Photo by Anhony Dobson/US Navy/Sipa

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This week we are looking at veteran benefits from Delaware, Alaska and South Dakota. 

Delaware

If you plan on staying at the Delaware veterans home you will need to be a state resident for three years before you apply. Other requirements include at least 180 days on active duty, were a reserve/guard member eligible for retirement at 60 and require nursing home care.   

Veterans do pay tax on retirement pay, however anyone under the age of 60 can deduct $2,000 off their adjusted gross income. Once you are over 60 years old, the number grows to a $12,500 gross income deduction. The other veteran tax break in the state is the disabled veteran vehicle exemption. If your vehicle has been adapted at government expense for disabled veterans, the vehicle is exempt from registration and inspection fees.

There is a special $3,000 per year pension benefit for paraplegic veterans.  The vet needs file evidence from the VA stating that they are fully disabled and that the disability is a direct result of military service during wartime.

Veteran preference for state jobs is pretty standard: five points for eligible vets, 10 points for disabled veterans. Preference points can be used by unmarried widows, widowers or spouse of POW or MIA as well as spouses of veterans who are totally disabled.  Employers can get a tax break for hiring veterans in the state. They can take a tax credit of 10 percent of a veteran’s salary, with a max of $1,500 for three years.

Children of deceased veterans, POW’s and those who were declared missing in action are entitled to up to four years of free college. Here’s something no other state offers the college doesn’t have to be in Delaware! You’ll need to be a state resident for at least three years before the application date and there is an age limit of 16 – 24 years old.

Here’s the link to the Delaware Commission of Veterans Affairs website to learn about more veteran benefits available to you.

Alaska

Alaska has one benefit that is very unique to the state, it’s the land discount purchase preference for veterans program. Unoccupied residential land is offered to the general public through auctions, veterans have the exclusive opportunity to purchase the land at a restricted sale.  Another program, the Veterans Land Discount program gives qualified veterans a 25 percent discount on the purchase of state land. This discount can only be used one time during the veterans’ life. 

Veterans can receive mortgage loans with low interest rates through the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.  Active duty can qualify as well. There is little-to-no down payment required. There is even a way some veterans can get a one percent interest rate reduction on the first $50k of the loan amount.  There are income limits to this program, so check with state officials to get more information.

If you’ve received at least a 50 percent VA or military disability, you are exempt on property taxes for the first $150,000 of your home’s value. The exemption does transfer to spouses if the spouse is at least 60 years old.

For state employment, veterans or national guards members can get five percentage points added to their application for state government jobs. Disabled vets or former POW’s can get 10 points preference.

You can learn more about Alaska benefits for veterans at the Office of Veterans Affairs website.

South Dakota

There is one state run veteran’s home in the Mt. Rushmore state. Eligibility requirements include an honorable discharge and you must be a state resident. Spouses and widows/widowers can live in this home as well, but the spouse must be admitted at the same time as the veteran. 

Veterans in the state with a permanent and total disability are exempt from paying property tax on their home. 

There a bonus of up to $500 available in the state too. You’ll need to have lived in the state for six months preceding active duty service. There are specific periods of service required to qualify and you can see if you do by following this link

For South Dakota state jobs, veterans with at least the minimum qualifications for the job will get an interview. Unmarried surviving spouses of veterans who died while on active duty can receive the same priority if they have the same qualifications for the job.  The same goes for spouses of disabled vets who are unable to use this benefit.

Honorably discharged veterans who served on active duty after Aug. 1990 and have either a campaign, expeditionary or service medal for combat operations are eligible for free tuition at state colleges. To receive this you can’t be in receipt of the GI Bill or other federal educational benefits. The way it works is you get one month of free tuition for each month of qualifying service. You can receive up to four years of tuition free schooling. 

For children under 25 years old and whose parent was killed in action or died of other causes while on active duty can get free tuition at state supported schools.  The parent will need to have been a South Dakota resident for at least six months before joining the military. South Dakota National Guard members can get a 50 percent reduction in tuition. 

For more information on these and other South Dakota veterans benefits, head over to the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs website