State Benefits Series: Each state has their own department of veterans affairs, but many veterans are not aware of what benefits these state departments offer that are different from the federal Dept. VA. This series hopes to clear that up. In alphabetical order, we will tell you what each state offers. Some articles will have just one state, and some will have several states.
Each state is divided into several categories, so you can easily see an overview of the benefits available in that section. The categories are: Education, Employment/Retirement, Taxes, Vehicle Licensing, Death/Burial, and Other Benefits.
Tuition waiver for Purple Heart Medal recipients: many public institutions of higher learning in Alabama waive tuition and fees of undergraduate studies for recipients of the Purple Heart. Specific institutions should be contacted for details.
Alabama GI Dependents Scholarship Program
Dependent children receive five academic years at any state supported institution of higher learning or technical school without payment of tuition, textbook costs, or instructional fees.
The spouse or widow of veterans meeting the below qualifications may receive up to three standard academic years without payment of tuition, textbook costs, or fees. Note: remarriage or divorce disqualifies the widow/spouse from receipt of these benefits.
Minimum service time of 90 continuous days during wartime
Disability rating of 20% or greater from Dept. VA, or have had rating at time of death,
or a former prisoner of war
or declared missing in action
or died as a result of a service connected disability
or died in the line of duty while on active service
Veteran must have been a permanent civilian resident of the State of Alabama for at least one year prior to initial entry into active military service
or any subsequent period of military service after a 1 year or longer break in service occurred during which Alabama residency was established.
**veterans rated at 100% service connected disability who do not meet one of these two residency requirements may become qualified after establishing five years of “permanent residency” in Alabama prior to applying for benefit, or prior to death.
State, county, and municipal officials, who enter military service during wartime (“a state of national emergency”), have preservation of job status and the right to reemployment upon return.
Teachers who enter military service during wartime are to be granted a leave of absence from the time of beginning service to the beginning of the school year following the end of service.
Retirement benefits of state employees and teachers who enter the military and return to state/teaching employment after discharge are preserved.
Preference for state classified employment: any veteran who was honorably discharged receives a 5 point bonus on an entrance examination for state classified service. Any veteran who was honorably discharged, and is entitled to pension, compensation, or disability benefits receives 10 bonus points. Wives and widows of this second group may at times also receive the extra 10 points.
Exempt from business license taxes
Veteran who is 25% or more disabled, regardless if disability is service connected or not.
Veteran personally conducts business and has no more than one employee
*unless* veteran’s property is valued at $5,000 or more or whose net income is $2,500 or more.
State income tax exemption: any payment made as compensation for active service (a.k.a. your paycheck) while the service member is in a designated combat zone is exempt from state income tax.
Exempt from home-property tax for that year
Veteran who is totally disabled or age 65+
Net income of $7,500 or less for the preceding year
Home was acquired by veteran with a specially adapted housing grant from the Dept. VA
Home is continuously owned and occupied by the veteran or the un-remarried surviving spouse
Exempt from lifetime vehicle-property taxes and license fees
Veteran is disabled
Vehicle was acquired via entirely or partially with funds provided from Dept. VA specifically for that vehicle
Vehicle is used only for private use
Exempt from property tax (public use)
Property is owned by the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, or any post/chapter of these groups
Property is used and occupied only by the veterans organization
Retirement income tax exemption: Compensation which a veteran receives as retirement benefits from military service, and survivor benefits from the same, are exempt from state, county, and municipal income taxes.
There are multiple different commemorative vehicle license plates available in Alabama. Of course some of the different plates have requirements such as a certain % disability, a survivor of a specific war, or the receipt of a specific medal.
Alabama is in the process of developing the state’s first veterans’ cemetery and plans to be available beginning in 2013.
Discounted freshwater fishing license
Veteran is 20% or more disabled and can provide documentation of such from Dept. VA.
Mortgage foreclosure prevention: the surviving spouse or estate of a mortgage holder who dies while deployed on active duty is protected from the initiation of foreclosure proceedings for 180 following the death of the mortgage holder.
Public records: When the Dept. VA needs a copy of a birth, marriage, divorce or other such certificate to establish benefits eligibility, one copy shall be provided free.
Photo thanks to lndhslf72 under creative commons license on Flickr.