Benefits in my Backyard: Military spouses

Jonathan Kaupanger
April 20, 2018 - 12:59 pm



There are more family members across the Department of Defense than active duty. With over 3 million total, 57.1 percent are family members, compared to 42.9 percent on active duty. The Army has the most with just about three quarters of a million spouses, children and adult dependents – which comes in at 60.6 percent. The Air Force and Navy are very close in the second and third spots with 57.3 and 54.7 percent respectively. The only branch of service with more active duty than dependents is the Marine Corps with 51 percent active to 49 percent family members.

On average, military spouses are younger and more likely to have children at home. They are more likely to live in metropolitan areas and as far as education, a military spouse is more likely to have graduated high school, and they tend to have at least some college education.  Yet, they are employed at lower rates and earn less than civilian counterparts.


Contact your local county tax assessor’s office to find specific information about veteran tax credits. Information changes from county to county, so ask about any veteran tax exemptions available. Most states require the spouse to own at least 50 percent of the property in order to qualify.  At least one state requires that you’re married at least five years before you can use a veteran tax break. Other states only allow this benefit to be passed on if the surviving spouse receives a pension from VA. This is a complicated and ever changing thing so it can’t be said enough, make friends with someone at your local county tax assessor’s office.

  • 100 percent tax exemption. There are 11 states that offer a total property tax exemption if the veteran is totally disabled. In Arkansas, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Virginia the surviving spouse is entitled to this benefit as long as they do not remarry. For Florida and New Hampshire this only applies to specially adapted housing that was acquired through a federal program. In Arkansas, if the veteran/military spouse remarries but that marriage is terminated, the exemption is reinstated.
  • Military Family Tax Benefits. A link to the IRS page about military families.


  • Transfer Post-9/11 GI Bill to spouse and dependents. The request to transfer unused GI Bill benefits needs to happen while on active duty.  DoD will decide if you can transfer benefits to your family. Family members need to be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System (DEERS) at the time of the transfer. Active duty will need at least six years of active duty or Selected Reserve on the date of approval and agree to serve another four years.
  • State VA scholarships/grants. Most states offer scholarships for the veteran’s family members. Almost all states have grants for family members of POW’s or members who were killed in action.The important thing to look for though is some of these cover tuition only, where others cover all expenses. Many state grants have a limited number of people they can take each year.
  • Spouse education career opportunities. This is government-sponsored career and educational resource. 


  • Family Member Preference (Federal Jobs)
    • Derived Preference. As the spouse, widow/widower or mother of a veteran, you may be eligible to claim veterans’ preference when the veteran is unable to use it. You’ll receive 10 points if you meet the eligibility criteria.
    • Spouses receive points when the veteran has a service-connected disability and is unable to qualify for any civil service position.
    • Widows/Widowers are eligible if you did not divorce the veteran, have not remarried or if the remarriage is annulled.
    • Mothers of deceased veterans qualify for points if their child died under honorable conditions while on active duty.
    • Mothers of disabled veterans are eligible if your child was separated with an honorable or general discharge and is totally and permanently disabled with a service-connected injury.
  • Military spouse employment partnership.


When looking for family support, start with the state veterans’ agency. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, try the state military agency. Sometimes it’s easier to work with a military family relief fund.


Cemetery and Burial

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