Benefits in my Backyard: Illinois

Jonathan Kaupanger
April 20, 2018 - 12:40 pm



Coming in at number 10 for the states with the most veterans is Illinois.  It must be a good state for veterans as 3.5 percent of veteran owned businesses are in Illinois. 

Illinois can boast a lot of firsts!  Things that began in Illinois: roller skates, steel framed skyscrapers, zippers (called a clasp locker at first), ferris wheels, mechanical dishwashers, the first aquarium, pinball games, the first softball game, spray paint, McDonalds, nuclear fission reactor and thankfully Hostess Twinkies.  The tallest man in the world was from Illinois.  He weighed 491 pounds and was 8 feet, 11 inches tall and wore a size 37 shoe!

Veterans need to be aware of a few laws before they call the Prairie State home.  If you have a moustache, you don’t want to settle in Eureka, it’s illegal there for a mustachioed man to kiss women.  On Sundays, you are not permitted to hum on public streets in Cicero.  In Chicago it’s illegal to give dogs whiskey and there are laws on the books that forbid eating in a place that’s on fire.  Not to mention when sitting on a giraffe’s neck while roaming the streets of Chicago, you’re not supposed to fish.  #themoreyouknow.


Illinois does not tax military retirement pay.

  • Returning Veterans’ Homestead Exemption.Qualifying veterans may use this one-time $5,000 reduction to their home value. Apply for this exemption at your local County Assessor’s Office.
  • Disabled Veterans’ Standard Homestead Exemption. A $2,500 exemption is available for veterans with a service-connected disability of at least 30 to 50 percent. Veterans with at least 50 to 70 percent receive $5,000 off their property tax bill and VA rated disabilities of at least 70 percent are exempt from paying property tax on their primary residence. Unmarried surviving spouses may use this exemption as well. Annual applications must be filed at the local County Assessor’s Office.
  • Specially Adapted Housing Tax Exemption. Veterans with a permanent and total disability that has been rated by VA may use this exemption.It may be passed to unmarried, surviving spouses as long as they reside in the residence. Contact your local Veteran Service Officer to apply.
  • Veterans are exempt from the full amount of the mobile home tax. This exemption applies to the tax levied by each county to the owner of a mobile home that meet all of the following criteria: 1) Mobile home must be owned and used exclusively by a disabled veteran; 2) spouse or unmarried surviving spouse as their primary residence; 3) the disabled veteran must have been awarded the Specially Adapted Housing Grant by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a primary residence that they owned and resided in prior to purchase of the mobile home; 4) and the disabled veteran, spouse or unmarried surviving spouse must be a permanent resident of the State of Illinois on January 1 of the tax year for which the exemption is being claimed. Contact your county tax assessor's office or please contact your local Veteran Service Officer for further information.


For help in choosing or applying for any of these programs, contact the nearest Veteran Service Officer.



  • Global War on Terrorism Survivors Compensation. A $3,000 compensation benefits is payable to survivors of military personnel killed in action by terrorist acts or hostile activities. Residency of on year in Illinois prior to entering military service is required.Apply at your local Veteran Service Office.
  • Vietnam Veteran Survivors Compensation. $1,000 is available to survivors of Vietnam veterans. Apply at your local Veteran Service Office.


  • Fishing/Hunting licenses.  Military members are eligible for free sport fishing, hunting and camping for one license year for each year served and for one year for each portion of a year served.  You must appear in person at one of the following offices:
    • Frank Holten State Park, 4500 Pocket Rd., East St. Louis, IL 62205, 618-874-0035
    • One Natural Resources Way, Springfield IL 62702
    • 18750 Lake Rd, Morrison IL 61270
    • 11731 State Highway 37, Benton IL 62812


Cemetery and Burial

  • 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