The state of California provides several veteran benefits. This section offers a brief description of each of the following benefits.
California Veterans Homes
California has eight veterans homes. The homes are located in:
- Chula Vista
- West Los Angeles
Veterans ages 55 and above and discharged from active military service under honorable conditions are eligible to apply for admission. The age requirement is waived for disabled or homeless veterans needing long-term care.
California Veteran Financial Benefits
California active-duty residents do not pay state income taxes if stationed outside the state.
CalVet Farm and Home Loans
The state of California offers farm, home, mobile home, construction, home improvement and rehabilitation loans to honorably discharged veterans. The loans have highly competitive rates, quick processing as well as flood, earthquake and disaster coverage. All veterans with an honorable discharge and at least 90 days of active service may be eligible.
Veterans Property Tax Exemption
California provides a $4,000 real property (such as a home) or personal property (such as a boat) exemption for honorably discharged veterans or the spouse or pensioned-parent of a deceased, honorably discharged veteran. However, a person who owns property valued at $5,000 or more ($10,000 or more for a married couple or for the unmarried surviving spouse of a qualified veteran) is not eligible for this exemption.
Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption
California gives a property tax exemption for the home of a 100% disabled veteran or an unmarried spouse of a deceased disabled veteran.
There are two levels of the Disabled Veterans' Exemption:
- Basic: The basic exemption, also referred to as the $100,000 exemption, is available to all qualifying claimants. The exemption amount is compounded annually by an inflation factor. For example, for 2018, the basic exemption amount was $134,706.
- Low-Income: The low-income exemption, also referred to as the $150,000 exemption, is available to qualifying claimants whose annual household income does not exceed a specified income limit. The amounts for both the low-income exemption and the annual income limit are compounded annually by an inflation factor. For example, for 2018, the low-income exemption amount was $202,060 and the annual household income limit was $60,490.
This exemption has no personal wealth restriction. The exemption is available only on a principal residence. The home may receive only one property exemption. The issues regarding these exemptions are complex, and the eligibility requirements are specific. Consult the local assessor's office for detailed requirements regarding these exemptions.
California Military Family Relief Fund
The California Military Family Relief Fund (CMFRF) was established to provide short-term financial assistance in the form of grants to California National Guard members and/or families affected by mobilization and deployment.
Motor Vehicle Registration Fees Waived
Medal of Honor recipients, former prisoners of war (POWs), and some permanently and totally disabled veterans may be eligible for a waiver of registration fees and free license plates for one passenger motor vehicle, or one motorcycle, or one commercial motor vehicle of less than 8,001 pounds in unladen weight.
Business License, Tax and Fee Waiver
Honorably discharged veterans who hawk, peddle, or vend any goods from a fixed location may be eligible for a waiver of municipal, county and state business license fees as well as other taxes and fees. This doesn't apply to the sales of alcoholic beverages.
California Veterans Employment Preference
Honorably discharged veterans and their spouses, or surviving spouses of 100% disabled veterans, are automatically ranked at the top of the eligibility list when they pass a test for state employment.
Disabled Veteran State Contract Preference
The Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise program helps small businesses that are wholly or partly owned by disabled veterans compete for state contracts.
Commercial Driver's License
Service members and veterans who served in a military position requiring operation of a military motor vehicle equivalent to a commercial motor vehicle on public roads and highways may be exempt from the road test or written section of the licensing exam.
California Veteran Dependent College Fee Waiver
Waiver of mandatory systemwide tuition and fees at any State of California Community College, California State University institution, or University of California campus. There are four classes of eligibility:
Who is eligible:
- A child between ages 14-27 of a service-connected, totally disabled veteran or a veteran whose death was officially rated as service-connected is eligible. If the child is a veteran, the age limit is extended to age 30.
- The spouse of a totally service-connected disabled veteran; also the unmarried surviving spouse of a totally service-connected disabled wartime veteran.
- Any dependent of any veteran who has been declared missing in action, captured in the line of duty by hostile forces, or forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty by a foreign government or power.
The veteran must have served at least one day of active duty during a period of war, or been awarded a campaign or expeditionary medal. You cannot get Plan A and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Chapter 35 benefits at the same time. There are no income restrictions. To be eligible, the event that caused basic entitlement to benefits (i.e., the date the veteran died of service-connected causes or the date the VA rated the veteran as totally disabled as a result of service-connected disabilities) must have occurred prior to the child's 21st birthday.
The child of a veteran who has a service-connected disability, or had a service-connected disability at the time of death, or died of service-related causes is eligible. There are income limits. Under Plan B, wartime service is not required, and there are no specific age requirements. Children are the only dependents eligible under this plan. There is no prohibition against receiving VA Chapter 35 benefits and this plan.
Any dependent of any member of the California National Guard who was killed in the line of duty, died of a disability which was received in the line of duty, or was permanently disabled in the line of duty, is eligible. Surviving spouses who have not remarried are also eligible.
Medal of Honor recipients and their children under 27 may qualify. Benefits under Plan D are limited to undergraduate studies only, and applicants are subject to both income and age restrictions. There is no prohibition against receiving concurrent VA Chapter 35 benefits.
California National Guard Education Assistance
The California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program covers all of, or a portion of, costs at selected state universities and community colleges. Guard members must remain in an active status while attending school. There are some GPA, academic program and enrollment requirements.
California Veteran Recreation Benefits
Fishing and Hunting Licenses
Any veteran with a 50% or greater service-connected disability may be eligible for reduced annual fees for fishing and hunting licenses. You do not have to be a California resident for this benefit.
State Parks and Recreation Pass
Any honorably discharged war veteran who is a California resident with a 50% or more service-connected disability, or who is a former prisoner of war or Medal of Honor recipient, can get a free pass to all California state parks. This includes camping and day use. The pass is not valid at units operated by local government, private agencies, or concessionaires, and it is not valid for special events, group campsites, or commercial use or for supplemental fees. There may be a convenience fee to make online reservations.
California State Veterans Cemeteries
There are three state veterans cemeteries within California:
- California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery in Seaside.
- Northern California Veterans Cemetery in Igo.
- Yountville Veterans Home Cemetery in Yountville. (This cemetery currently accepts only the interment of the Veterans Home's residents and their eligible dependents.)
Discussions are ongoing about a site for a future Southern California Veterans Cemetery.
Complete, professional burial services are provided at no cost to veterans ($500 fee for spouses or dependents). Veterans, dependents and survivors who meet VA eligibility requirements for burial in a national cemetery may be eligible.
Visit the California Department of Veterans Affairs website for more information on any of these programs.
Stay on Top of Your Veteran Benefits
Military benefits are always changing. Keep up with everything from pay to health care by subscribing to Military.com, and get access to up-to-date pay charts and more with all latest benefits delivered straight to your inbox.