Benefits in my backyard

Utah, Nebraska and Idaho

Jonathan Kaupanger
March 19, 2018 - 2:20 pm

Photo by Anthony Behar

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This week, we look at state benefits for the more than 350,000 veterans who live in Utah, Nebraska and Idaho.

Utah

The Beehive State runs four veterans homes that are open to all honorably discharged veterans. You don’t have to have served in a war, but wartime service will get you preference. Spouses and surviving spouses are eligible to live in these homes.  

For taxes, veterans in the state have a few exemptions to use. Disabled vets can use a property tax abatement. The max reduction in your home’s value is $255,301. Surviving spouses can be eligible too. If you are on active duty or a member of the reserves, with at least 200 days of active duty service, you could qualify for a total exemption of your property tax. You get the exemption in the year after you serve.

Your military retirement pay is taxed in Utah.

If you’re looking for work in state government, veterans with an honorable discharge will have five points added to their employment test score. Veterans with a service connected disability receive 10 points. Eligible spouses and unmarried, surviving spouses could also receive this benefit. Another employment benefit in Utah is the driving skills test waiver. All you need is an honorable discharge within the last 90 days and have operated a commercial vehicle within the past two years.

For educational help in the state, if you have a Purple Heart then you can have all tuition waived at all state colleges. For surviving dependents of service members killed in action or after 9/11, there’s the Scott B. Lundell Tuition Waiver. This works at all state run schools. The last bit of tuition helps comes in the form of the Veterans Tuition Gap Program. Vets who use their Post-9/11 GI Bill can get their tuition for the last year of a degree program waived by Utah.

You can get more information at the Utah Department of Veterans Affairs or just check out the benefits booklet here.

Nebraska

If you have an other than dishonorable discharge, then you and your spouse could live in any of the four state run veterans’ homes. You do need to be disabled and needing care though and there are income requirements. 

There are two exemptions available that cover military retirement pay. You can only pick one, and once your election is made it can’t be changed. Also, if you don’t make a choice within two years of discharge, then you lose the exemption all together. 

Option 1:A 40 percent exclusion of military retirement pay for seven consecutive tax years.

Option 2: A 15 percent exclusion of military retirement pay for all tax years starting at age 67.

Veterans with a 100 percent, service-connected disability could qualify for a reduction of property tax with the Nebraska Homestead Exemption. Surviving spouses and un-remarried surviving spouses of vets killed in action could qualify for this as well.  There are income limits and home value limits.

Nebraska does have the Nebraska Veterans’ Aid Fund that is a temporary emergency aid fund for veterans, spouses and dependents. This is for emergencies that include food, fuel, shelter, clothing, funeral, medical and surgical items. Apply at the County Service Officer or any recognized veterans’ organization in the state.

The Cornhusker State offers veterans looking for state employment some help. An honorable discharge gets five percent added to scores or employment testing in the state. Disabled vets can get another five percent added to the total score as well. Spouses of active duty qualify as well. 

Children of eligible veterans can get all tuition waived at the University of Nebraska and all state or community colleges. Children of vets who died on active duty or veterans who are permanently and totally disabled can be eligible for this waiver.  Enlisting in any Nebraska based reserve units can result in a 50 percent tuition credit at state or community colleges.

The link to the Nebraska Department of Veterans Affairs website is here.

Idaho

There are three state veterans’ homes in Idaho. Wartime vets do get preference, but all Idaho veterans with honorable discharges are eligible to live in one of these homes. Applicants must be unemployable as a result of age, illness or disability and there is a monthly fee.

Active duty Idahoans who are stationed outside of the state do not pay state income tax. Military retirement pay is not taxed for the retiree and un-remarried surviving spouses once they hit 65 years old. For veterans who are disabled the age requirement is lowered to 62.

The Gem State has special financial assistance for wartime veterans and it provides up to $1,000 in the form of a grant. Requirements are that veterans entered the military from the state or lived in Idaho for at least five years. The emergency or event must have occurred within 90 days of the request.

Idaho Law gives veterans preference points for time in active service (training time does not count towards this). Veterans discharged under honorable conditions or un-remarried spouses of those veterans are eligible for five preference points.  A service connected disability will get you an additional ten points added towards your score. 

Idaho provides in-state tuition to Guardsmen and Reservists who live out of the state, but serve with an Idaho unit. Operation Idaho Scholarship is given by the University of Idaho as a form of financial assistance for severely injured military personnel or their family.  You can also get help paying for on-campus housing, transportation, adaptive equipment, child care and tutoring.

The Idaho Division of Veterans Affairs website can be found here.