Budgeting & Saving

Veteran’s Day Benefits That Beat a Free Appetizer

A quick Google search will yield hundreds of articles for special deals and freebies for veterans this weekend in honor of Veteran's Day. But don't stop there. Tell veterans about these benefits they may not know is available to them—for everything from college education to retirement planning. (See also: 5 Money Perks Only Veterans Get)

State education and other benefits

State education benefits for veterans and their families are widely available across the country. Variations in dollar amounts range from a couple hundred dollars monthly to full tuition for four years. The level of service required to qualify ranges from being any dependent to only the service member—unless the service member is deceased.

While you can find information on state education or veterans' affairs sites, the best place for information is calling the veteran's representative in your local college's financial aid office. Why? You will find out about scholarships offered on a local and university level for families, too. (See also: The 5 Things Every Family Needs to Know About Pell Grants)

In many states, veterans also get a property tax or car registration exemption. Veterans can learn about these benefits through their state's Veterans' Affairs and sometimes taxation websites.

Help for spouses and dependents

VA disability can take years or even decades to get approved. My father was a Vietnam era veteran and he didn't fully get approved as permanently and totally disabled until I was in college. We didn't know that meant my mom, my brother, and I qualified for an extension of the GI Bill. I was able to get a monthly stipend of several hundred dollars that nearly covered my tuition in grad school. The current monthly payment for up to 45 months per individual is just over $1,000.

Families can also get back payments. While there is an age range of 18 to 26 for dependent children, there are exceptions. The Post-11 GI Bill allows service members' families to use their benefits without any disability required for any part of their 36 months of education allotted. Service members must have completed 10 years of active duty or Selected Reserve service or completed 6 years with an agreement to do 6 more.

VA health benefits and employment help

With the cost of healthcare being what is, no one should reject free healthcare offered to them. Most veterans who have at least 24 months of active duty service (12 months for veterans who served prior to 1980) who weren't dishonorably discharged qualify. But there are so many exceptions to the 24-month rule, that other veterans who didn't serve a full 24 months should still apply for the VA Health Benefits.

For instance, disabled veterans may qualify for benefits if they are disabled at a 10% level and vocational rehabilitation at 30% or higher level. Local offices can also help homeless veterans acquire housing and employment.

Retirement specialists

USAA has financial advisors that are specifically trained to help military members plan their retirement and financial futures. Since military members can retire as early as their late thirties, they have special planning services geared towards the needs of balancing new careers, further education and longer term retirement planning. They can advise on all these topics and many advisors are service members themselves.

We wish veterans and their families a wonderful holiday and thank them for their service. Please share this articles with the veterans you know to help them gather information on what's available to them beyond a free appetizer.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.
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