Benefits in my backyard

Jonathan Kaupanger
April 03, 2018 - 1:14 pm

Photo by Jim Buchta/Minneapolis Star Tribune/MCT/Sipa USA

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This week, we check out state veteran benefits for New Hampshire (there’s a bunch of tax credits for us vets here), Montana (how does free in-state tuition sound) and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (it’s not called the Island of Enchantment for nothing!)

New Hampshire

There’s one state run veterans’ home in the Granite State. Veterans with an honorable discharge and who have served for at least 90 days during a period of war can live in this home. You do need to be a state resident for at least one year before submitting your application though and there are some restrictions on medical treatment available. Regular activities at the home include dances and live entertainment.

The state has a $100 war bonus for veterans who served in Vietnam, Persian Gulf and the Global War on Terrorism. The program has ended or expired for all three wars, but there are provisions in place that allow for applications to be submitted. Click on each hyperlink for specific information. State rules on bonuses can be found here. To qualify for this you must have been a New Hampshire resident when you entered the service.

For property tax exemptions, wartime vets and their spouse or surviving spouse can get a property tax credit of $50 ($100 if both are eligible vets).  You should check with your local tax office because cities in NH can adopt a credit of up to $500 for veterans.

Spouses of veterans who were killed in action can get a credit between $700 and $2,000. This can be used on real estate or personal property. Veterans with a permanent and total service connected disability, double amputee or paraplegic or un-remarried surviving spouses can receive a $700 credit on their property. Again, check with your local tax office, cities and towns can vote for a higher credit, up to $2,000. Veterans with a specially adapted home bought with the assistance of the VA can be totally exempt from property tax.  The surviving spouse can claim the exemption too.

For veteran employment in the state, an honorable discharge gets you preference for city, town and district jobs. Some spouses and un-remarried surviving spouses could also qualify. For more info on state employment benefits for veterans, click here.

Children of military members who have died while on active duty during wartime could qualify for free tuition at state colleges. The same goes for children of some wartime vets who die from a service-connected disability. There is also a $2,500 scholarship available to cover board, books and supplies. This scholarship can be used four times but children must be between the ages of 16 and 25 to qualify.

The New Hampshire Office of Veterans Services website has information on more benefits.

Montana

Montana runs two homes for veterans with honorable discharges. Spouses can be admitted on a space available basis.  Residents pay based on their ability.  For more information, check out the Montana Veterans Affairs website.

Active duty and reserve/guard pay isn’t taxed in Big Sky Country. There is a property tax exemption for disabled veterans though. You’ll need to have an honorable discharge and income limits do apply, so check with your local tax office. Unmarried surviving spouses can be eligible for this tax exemption too.

Veterans receive preference for public jobs in the state. An honorable discharge get five percentage points added to your employment test score while disabled vets receive 10 percentage points added to theirs. Some spouses or un-remarried surviving spouses are eligible for this too.

Veterans in Montana with an honorable discharge are eligible for a 100 percent tuition waiver for in-state tuition. You’ll need to have served during a way or received a campaign or expeditionary medal and have used up all of their federal GI Bill benefits.  There’s another tuition waiver available, this one is for children whose parent was killed in action or died as a result of combat related injuries or diseases. 

Puerto Rico

If you’ve made the decision to retire in the Commonwealth Puerto Rico, your military pension is taxed based on where you served.  If you put in 20 years, but spent five years active duty in Puerto Rico, then 2/3rds of your retirement wouldn’t be taxed by the Island.  You would be taxed federally, but you might be able to deduct your federal tax from your Puerto Rico tax. 

There are a few tax relief measures especially for veterans living on the island.  All vets get a $500 deduction for life. There’s also a property tax exemption that lets veterans of the property tax hook on their primary home. This lasts for 10 years or until you reach $50,000. Disabled veterans can get an additional $50k exemptions as well.

There’s an educational benefit for members of the Puerto Rico National Guard. It provides funding for up to 18 credit hours of graduate classes or $1,350. Undergraduate or vocational funding is available as well. Veterans who didn’t get or have used up their federal GI Bill funds can get free tuition at the University of Puerto Rico.

Veterans looking for employment with a commonwealth job get preference too, you can find more information at the Puerto Rican government website here