Benefits in my backyard

Indiana, Colorado and South Carolina

Jonathan Kaupanger
January 24, 2018 - 12:17 pm

(Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. Ken Scar/U.S. Army/Sipa USA)

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It seems like the fewer veterans living in a state, the fewer benefits are available.  That said, Indiana has a couple great programs that help vets and their families.  Vets get great tax breaks in Colorado, or maybe it just seems that way after visiting a pot dispensary. 

Indiana

There is one Veterans Home in the Hoosier State.  To stay here you’ll need an honorable discharge and have lived in the state for at least 12 months before admission.  Veterans and their spouses are welcome to live in this state vet home.

When paying state income tax, Indiana active duty military members can exempt up to $5k of their military income.  For retirees, they can do the same, but only after they hit 60 years old.

With state property tax, there are two ways veterans can save some money here (and yes, you could qualify for both!) Veterans with at least a 10 percent disability and have wartime service as well as an honorable discharge get a $24,960 property tax deduction.  There is also a $12,480 deduction for veterans who are 100 percent disabled or for those who are over 62 years old and have at least a 10 percent disability.

The one caveat to this that you can’t use these deductions if the value of your property is over $143,160.  Also, for vets who don’t own any real property, they can take a deduction of $70 on their taxes for a vehicle.

The state has a Military Family Relief Fund that gives emergency grants of up to $2,500.  You’ll need to have an honorable discharge to receive this.  The grants can be used for items like food, housing, utilities, medical services, transportation and other essential family things.

The state has another interesting program just to help out military and their family members.  It’s the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.  Vets can use this program to pay for childcare while looking for a job or to attend classes. 

Veterans in Indiana get preference when applying for state jobs.  They get to add an additional 10 points when tests are needed for jobs.  Disabled vets, spouses of disabled vets, missing veterans and widows/widowers of vets who died during a time of war get this preference as well.

For school, Indiana has free tuition at state schools for children of disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients and their children, and kids of POW/MIA.  Qualifications include being a resident of the state for 36 consecutive months and have served in a wartime period.  The benefits has up to 124 credit hours but is only good at specific state schools.  Check out the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs website to find out more.

Colorado

There are five State Veteran community Living Centers in Colorado.  Vets, their spouses, widows/widowers or Gold Star parents can stay at these homes. 

100 percent service-connected disabled vets can cut out half of their homes value, up to $200k, when paying property tax.  And since 2016, active duty pay is tax free for Colorado residents who are stationed outside of the state.  For military retirees who are 55 – 64 years old, they get to cut out $20,000 per year for tax purposes.  Over 65 that amount jumps to $24,000. Some disabled vets can have tax on motor vehicles waived as well.

The Centennial State has career assistance for anyone eligible for veteran’s services.  The state workforce locations are all over the state and gives priority service to vets for employment, training and placement services.  Each center has a local veteran’s employment rep onsite too. 

For state jobs, a five point preference is given to vets who were honorable separated and served during a war or have a campaign medal.  Spouses of vets with a service-connected disability and widow/widower of vets who would be entitled to this receive the points as well.  10 point preference is given to honorable separated vets who are getting VA disability or pensions.

Members of the Colorado National Guard can get state tuition assistance after serving two years for each year granted.  This all depends on what funding is available though.  Tuition at any state funded school can be paid 100 percent.

South Carolina

Veterans in South Carolina have three state run Veteran Nursing Homes, if they are in need of nursing home care and were honorably discharged.

As far as taxes goes in S.C., active duty pay is taxable but Reserve & National Guard drill pay is not.  Starting in 2016, military retirement income can be deducted from individual taxes.  Anyone who has been declared permanently and totally disabled by the VA get a property tax exemption.  If you’re 65 or older you get this exemption as well.

Veterans looking for state employment get preference.  They do need to have an honorable discharge and have the skills and knowledge required for the position.  The state even has a way to stick with your state job retirement plan too.  This is only for people who leave state employment and go into the military however.

Some children of veterans can apply for free tuition at state supported colleges and universities.  There are residency requirements, so check with the South Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs for more info.

Next week we visit Maryland, Alabama and Wisconsin to check out state veteran benefits,.