California State Veteran Benefits

CALIFORNIA STATE VETERAN BENEFITS

We endeavor to keep this information current, but it is subject to change without notice.

CALIFORNIA EDUCATION BENEFITS

The State of California offers a mandatory waiver of tuition and fees at any Community College, State college or State University.  There is eligibility criteria for each of four plans:

Plan A Eligibility:

  • A child between the ages of 14 and 27 of a 100% totally disabled, service-connected veteran OR a veteran whose death was service-connected. If the child is a veteran as well, the age limit increases to 30
  • The spouse, unmarried surviving spouse or Registered Domestic Partner (RDP), of a service-connected, totally disabled veteran with wartime service (see below)
  • Any dependent of a Veteran who declared MIA, captured in the line of duty, or forcibly detained while in the line of duty by a foreign power

For dependents to qualify under Plan A, the Veteran must have least one day of active duty during a period of war. Veteran may also have been awarded a campaign or expeditionary medal. Additional stipulations:

  • Benefits under Plan A and VA Chapter 35 cannot be received simultaneously
  • Eligibility event (i.e., VA rating of totally disabled) must have occurred before the dependent child turns 21
  • No income restrictions

Plan B Eligibility:

The only requirements for eligibility under Plan B is the Veteran extending eligibility to his or her child must have a service-connected disability or had one at the time of death. Children of Veterans who died of service-related causes are also eligible. This plan has notable differences from Plan A:

  • There are income limits
  • There are no specific age limitations or requirements
  • Spouses are not eligible
  • Wartime service by the Veteran is not required
  • Okay to receive Plan B Benefits simultaneously with VA Chapter 35 Benefits

Plan C Eligibility:

Plan C covers dependents of members of the California National Guard who meet certain criteria. The Guard member must have been killed in the line of duty or die as a result of a disability stemming from duty or be permanently disabled due to service. Plan C eligibility extends to surviving spouses or RDPs who remain unmarried.

Plan D Eligibility:

Plan D covers Medal of Honor recipients and their children under age 27. 

  • Income and age restrictions
  • Covers undergraduate studies only
  • Okay to receive Plan B Benefits simultaneously with VA Chapter 35 Benefits

CALIFORNIA VETERANS EMPLOYMENT PREFERENCE

Veterans, spouses of 100% disabled veterans or un-remarried surviving spouses who take a state employment test and pass will be placed at the top all applicants.

CALIFORNIA VETERAN FINANCIAL BENEFITS

CalVet Farm and Home Loans

Honorably discharged Veterans can receive farm and home loans from the State of California. These loans are said to have competitive rates and quick processing times in addition to earthquake and disaster coverage.

Veterans Property Tax Exemption

Most honorably-discharged Veterans, their spouses or the pensioned parents of a deceased, honorably-discharged veteran, who own a home in California will not qualify for the State’s $4,000 real property exemption because of the low real property value limit. They may qualify for the state’s $4,000 personal property exemption if they own a boat or something like that. Either way, owning property with a value of $5000 or greater ($10K for both spouses) negates this exemption.   

Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption

California grants tax exemptions on the homes of disabled veterans or spouses of deceased disabled veterans provided they have not remarried.

  • The level of tax exemption varies and are adjust annually for cost of living
  • Basic $100,000 exemption for a Veterans with income of $58,754 or less
  • $150,000 exemption for a disabled veteran who has lost the use of two or more limbs, is blind in both eyes, or who is otherwise rated totally disabled by the VA or military
  • The surviving spouse who does not remarry may receive this exemption if the Veteran passed from a service-connected injury, a disease incurred while on active duty, or is killed on active duty

There are no wealth restrictions; however, the exemption is for the Veteran’s principle residence only and only one property exemption may apply. The local tax assessor’s office has detailed requirements for these exemptions. 

California Military Family Relief Fund

This fund offers financial assistance grants to California National Guard members and their families to offset the impact of deployment or mobilization. 

Vehicle Registration Fees

Certain disabled Veterans with a permanent and total rating, Medal of Honor recipients and ex-POWs, may have registration fees waived for one vehicle. Vehicle may be a passenger vehicle, motorcycle, or commercial vehicle of less than 8,001 pounds. They may also receive the license plates for that vehicle at no charge.

Business License, Tax and Fee Waiver

As long as the Veteran isn’t selling alcoholic beverages, any honorably discharged Veteran who sells goods from a fixed location may be able to have all municipal, county and state business license fees waived, as well as other fees and taxes.

CALIFORNIA VETERAN RECREATION BENEFITS

Fishing and Hunting Licenses

Resident and non-resident Veterans with a 50% or greater service-connected disability can apply for reduced annual fees on fishing and hunting licenses.

Recreation Pass at State Parks

California residents who are honorably-discharged veterans with a 50% or more service-connected disability can receive a pass to all state parks in California. This benefit extends to former POWs, or Medal of Honor recipients who are California residents as well. The Pass covers camping and day use; however, there are restrictions:

  • Not valid for parks operated locally or by private agencies, or concessionaires
  • Does not apply for special events, group campsites, and commercial use
  • Does not cover supplemental fees or convenience fees associated with online reservations

CALIFORNIA VETERANS HOMES

California admits Veterans who are 55 years and older, as long as they have an Honorable discharge. The age requirement does not apply for disabled or homeless Veterans who need long-term care. California maintains Veteran Homes in Barstow, Chula Vista, Fresno, Lancaster, Redding, Ventura, West Los Angeles and Yountville.

CALIFORNIA STATE VETERAN CEMETERIES

California hosts 5 open National Cemeteries and several State Veterans Cemeteries. State facilities provide internment at no cost to eligible Veterans. Their dependents and spouses who meet VA eligibility requirements for internment at a national cemetery may also be interred for a $500 fee.

You can find more information regarding these benefits and other programs at the California Department of Veterans Affairs website.