Benefits in my Backyard: California

There are more military installations in the Golden State than any other: 32.

Jonathan Kaupanger
April 20, 2018 - 12:50 pm



More than 1.8 million veterans live in what was originally called the Grizzly Bear State.  As California grew, the bear population was wiped out and the new nickname became The Golden State.  The last reported sighting of a wild California grizzly was in 1924.  The state flag features a California grizzly and was designed by William Todd, the nephew of Mary Todd Lincoln.    


California taxes military retirement pay for California residents, nonresidents aren’t taxed on military retirement pay received after Dec. 31, 1995.

  1. Veterans Exemption: $4,000 exemption, for either home or personal property.  Cannot be used on property if valued at $5,000 or more ($10,000 for married couple).
  2. Disabled Veterans Exemption: Basic exemption is $100,000. Low-income (less than $52,472 per year) is $150,000. Can be used if  the veteran is blind in both eyes, has lost the use of two or more limbs, or has a VA 100 percent disability rating. 
  • Business License, Tax and Fee Waiver. Relieves state business license fees, taxes and fees.  Eligibility is different upon local jurisdiction, however an honorable discharge is required.  This exemption applies to veterans who hawk, peddle, or vend any goods, wares or merchandise owned by the veteran except intoxicating liquors. Bring proof of honorable discharge when applying for the license.



There are four basic education plans for California veterans. If eligibility criteria is met, tuition is waived for state Community College, California State University or University of California campuses.  This waiver does not cover books, parking, room and board or any other school specific requirements.  Applicants must meet state residency requirements.

Download application here

  • Plan A.  For children, 14 – 27 year old, of VA rated, 100 percent service-connected disabled veteran.  If child is vet, then age limit is extended to 30 years old.  Also for spouse or registered domestic partner (RDP) of wartime vet with 100 percent VA rated disability.  Or for unmarried surviving spouse or RDP of wartime vet whose death is from VA rated disability. Or for any dependent of MIA or POW veteran.  Eligibility requirements: Veteran must have served at least one day during period of war, or in receipt of a campaign or expeditionary medal.
  • Plan B.  For child of vet with service-connected disability or had service-connected disability at time of death, or died of service-related causes.  Veteran wartime service is not required.
  • Plan C.  For dependents of California National Guard members who died while in active service to the state, or permanently disabled during service to state, or for surviving spouses or RDPs who have not remarried.
  • Plan D.  Medal of Honor recipients and their children under the age of 27.  Limited to undergraduate studies only.


Veterans receive preference points when testing for open and open non-promotional examinations for state jobs requiring college graduation and less than two years of experience.The exam announcement will state if preference credits are granted.

Requirements: Must have served full time for 30 days or more during war, or received a campaign or expedition medal, or served during September 16, 1940 to January 31, 1995, or have served at least 181 consecutive days since Jan 31, 1995.  Must have other than dishonorable discharge.

Apply here.

  • 15 points: 100 percent disabled veterans
  • 10 points: veterans and widows/widowers, spouses of 100 percent disabled veterans
  •  5 points: National Guard vets and widows/widowers of National Guard vets



Several organizations in the state provide financial utility bill assistance for vets and their family members



  • Fishing/Hunting licenses.  Reduced fees for honorably-discharged vet with 50 percent or greater service-connected, VA rated, disability.  Apply here or call (916) 928-5805.
  • Distinguished Veteran Pass (State Parks and Recreation Pass).  Honorably discharged war vet who is a state resident with at least 50 percent service-connected disability, or was POW, or received the Congressional Medal of Honor.  Apply here.  4 – 6 weeks processing time.


  • CalVet Home Loans. For home loans that are typically less expensive than other loans and includes low cost home insurance that covers fire, earthquake and flood.  Most honorably discharged veterans and active duty service members are eligible.  Go here for more information and application.
  • Veterans’ homes. There are five types of veterans’ homes in California: skilled nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities, residential care facility for the elderly or assisted living, domiciliary or independent living and memory care for vets with symptoms of dementia or Alzheimer’s.  Admission Requirements: At least 55 years old, honorable discharge, California resident, enrolled in qualified federal, state or private health service plan, able to live and get along with other people.  For more info call (800) 952-5262.
  • State Homeless Service Organizations
  • Northern California homeless assistance coordinators
  • Southern California homeless assistance coordinators


Cemetery and Burial

  • Veterans residing in the state are eligible to receive certain end-of-life benefits. For more information call (877) 741-8532.
  • Eligibility Determination Form.  Pre-needs determination is intended to simplify and assist the veteran’s next-of-kin at the time of death.  This does not reserve a plot or niche at the cemetery.  There is no cost for this.


Links or Resources