PENNSYLVANIA COMMONWEALTH VETERAN BENEFITS
We endeavor to keep this information current, but it is subject to change without notice.
PENNSYLVANIA EDUCATION BENEFITS
Pennsylvania Veterans Educational Gratuity
Pennsylvania says ‘thank you’ to veterans who died in the line of duty during wartime or conflict, by giving their children, age 16 to 23, an educational gratuity. The children of Veterans who have become 100% ‘permanently and totally disabled’ as determined by the VA from service-connected conditions, having served during wartime, qualify as well if the veteran was honorably discharged. The child must be a resident of Pennsylvania and demonstrate his or her financial need. The Gratuity program pays the child’s educational institution $500 each semester (or term) for up to four years.
Pennsylvania National Guard Education Assistance Program
Pennsylvania National Guard members with a six-year commitment can receive an education at a state funded school or college. They can tap the Pennsylvania National Guard Education Assistance Program to receive free schooling for up to 10 semesters.
Military Family Education Program
Guard members can also serve to earn free education for their families through The Military Family Education Program. This program also requires a 6-year Guard commitment, but it can’t be the same six years served to earn free tuition under the Guard Education Assistance Program. Like that program though, the Family Education Program provides up to 10 semesters free at a college or state school.
PENNSYLVANIA VETERAN EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS
Ten preference points can be added to certain veterans’ exam scores when seeking employment in the public sector. Veterans who served after August 2, 1990 on active duty and separated with an honorable discharge, spouses of disabled veterans, and certain surviving spouses get 10 points added to their successful exam scores.
Once employed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for three years or more, Veterans with honorable discharges can elected to purchase credit toward their retirement for their active duty military service years.
PENNSYLVANIA VETERAN FINANCIAL BENEFITS
The Keystone State does not tax military retirement pay. Nor do they tax active duty pay when it is earned by military service members assigned elsewhere.
Military Family Relief Assistance Program
This Emergency assistance fund can be tapped by current members of military in good standing, including reserve units. provided they are serving more than 30 continuous days. Eligible Veterans must have served for 4 years or be medically discharged for a disability that occurred in the line of duty. In addition, the emergency they are seeking funds to address must be either related to their former service or beyond their control. The fund could address a man-made or national disaster requiring shelter and food, unexpected loss of income, critical illness of family member and the like. The fund provides a maximum of $3,500.
Veterans Temporary Assistance
Different from Military Family Relief Assistance in that the Veterans Temporary Assistance fund is specifically for Veterans, Pennsylvania can provide up to $1,200 in a 12-month period to eligible Veterans and surviving spouses who have not remarried. This fund provides money for necessities such as shelter, food, clothing and fuel. Veterans must show proof of immediate need when they apply.
Real Estate Tax Exemption
If you have an honorable discharge, wartime service and are 100% disabled with a VA service-connected disability, Pennsylvania does not require you to pay taxes. They do, however, have restrictions on income. Surviving spouses usually retain their eligibility if they stay unmarried and continue to live in the property as their permanent residence.
Pennsylvania has two separate pensions offering $150.00 a month to Veterans who were honorably discharged and who incurred specific service-connected injuries or diseases. They are:
- Blind Veterans Pension – for service-connected blindness or severe loss of vision
- Paralyzed Veterans Pension – for service-connected loss, or loss of use, of two or more extremities (arms/hands or legs/feet)
PENNSYLVANIA VETERAN RECREATION BENEFITS
Veterans with wartime service and a 100% service-connected disability rating may apply to receive hunting, fishing and trapping licenses at no charge. If a disabled Veteran has at least a 60% VA disability rating, he or she can apply to receive these licenses at a discount. The county treasurer receives applications for these licenses.
Active duty military residents can get free fishing licenses and pay less for their hunting licenses to use while they are home in Pennsylvania on leave. Those military members stationed here as non-residents pay the less expensive, resident rate for sporting licenses.
PENNSYLVANIA VETERANS HOMES
There are six veterans’ homes throughout Pennsylvania that offer varying levels of assistance, from personal care to skilled nursing, all at a pro-rated cost to the Veteran and family. Monthly fees depend on the Veteran’s ability to pay and that’s measured against a baseline of $80,000 in disposable assets. In fact, cost of care also depends on a Veteran’s level of disability. If a Veteran has a service-connected disability at 70% or greater, the VA will pick up all costs for care.
Basic guidelines for the facilities located in Erie, Hollidaysburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Scranton, and Spring City state that honorably-discharged resident veterans and their spouses are eligible to apply. Non-resident veterans are only eligible if their home of record was Pennsylvania when they enlisted and if there is no waitlist for resident veterans.
PENNSYLVANIA COMMONWEALTH CEMETERIES
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania does not own or operate any Veteran cemeteries; however, they do host three national veteran cemeteries. Eligibility rules and burial benefits follow federal guidelines. The national cemeteries are The Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville, The National Cemetery of the Alleghenies in Bridgeville, and the Washington Crossing National Cemetery in Newtown.
You can find more information regarding these benefits and other programs at the Pennsylvania Department of Military Veterans Affairs website.