California State Veteran's Benefits

California Map

The state of California provides several veteran benefits. This section offers a brief description of each of the following benefits.

California Veteran Housing Benefits

Veterans Homes of California
California has 8 veterans homes located in:

  • Barstow
  • Chula Vista
  • Fresno
  • Lancaster
  • Redding
  • Ventura
  • West Los Angeles
  • Yountville

The 8 current Homes are a system of live-in, residential care facilities offering a comprehensive plan of medical, dental, pharmacy, rehabilitation services and social activities within a homelike, small community environment. The Homes range in size from 60 residents on a 20 acre site to over 1,000 residents on 500 acres. The California state veterans homes house and care for approximately 3,000 veterans.

Veterans who are age 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.

Calvet Farm and Home Loans
Direct loans from the State of California, highly competitive rates, quick processing, unbeatable earthquake and disaster coverage, and proven ability to work well with homeowner veterans.

See the CalVet Home Loans page for more details. 

Who May Be Eligible: Any veteran who served honorably on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States for at least 90 days, who resides in and wishes to purchase a farm or home in California.

Veterans Property Tax Exemption
The California Constitution provides a $4,000 real property (e.g., a home) or personal property (e.g., a boat) exemption for honorably discharged veterans or the spouse or pensioned-parent of a deceased, honorably discharged veteran. Most persons, however, are disqualified from this exemption due to restrictions on the value of property a claimant may own. 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. Thus, a veteran who owns a home would most likely not qualify for the veterans exemption.

Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption
The California Constitution and Revenue and Taxation Code Section 205.5 provides a property tax exemption for the home of a disabled veteran or an unmarried spouse of a deceased disabled veteran.

There is a basic $100,000 exemption or a low-income (less than $52,470) $150,000 exemption available to a disabled veteran who, because of an injury incurred in military service:

  • is blind in both eyes; or
  • has lost the use of two or more limbs; or
  • is totally disabled as determined by the VA or by the military service from which the veteran was discharged.

An unmarried surviving spouse may also be eligible if the service person died as the result of a service-connected injury or a disease incurred while on active duty or as the result of  active  duty. In other words, a veteran may not have been eligible during his or her lifetime, but the surviving spouse may become eligible for the exemption upon the veteran's death.

Unlike the veterans exemption, the disabled veterans exemption has no personal wealth restriction. The exemption is only available on a veteran's principal place of residence. The home may only receive one property exemption. Thus, if a homeowner's exemption has been granted on a property and the owner subsequently qualifies for the disabled veterans' exemption, the homeowner's exemption should be cancelled to allow for the disabled veterans exemption as it provides the greater benefit.

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. 

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California Veteran Financial Benefits

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 impacted by mobilization and deployment who meet criteria listed below:

  • Current member of the California National Guard in good standing.
  • Current California resident.
  • Deployment to active duty for at least 60 consecutive days in Title 10 USC status.
  • Member's salary has decreased by 10 percent or household income of member's family has decreased by at least 10 percent from income prior to deployment.
  • The member, within six months of returning from active duty, has experienced a 10 percent loss, or greater, in income, compared to pre-deployment income, as a direct result of deployment.
  • The member was injured while serving on active duty and has been discharged from federal active duty and is actively seeking assistance through the United States Department of Veterans' Affairs with regard to disability compensation benefits or treatment, or both. Application for a cash grant under this section shall be submitted within 18 months of being released from federal military active duty, along with written substantiation demonstrating that the member's current financial hardship is a direct result of a military deployment and an injury sustained during the deployment.

For further information on how to apply for this program, please visit their website.

Motor Vehicle Registration Fees Waived
Waiver of registration fees and free license plates for one passenger motor vehicle, or one motorcycle, or one commercial motor vehicle of less than 8001 pounds unladen weight.

Who May Be Eligible: Medal of Honor recipients, American Ex-Prisoners of War and some permanently and totally disabled veterans.

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California Veteran Employment Benefits

Veterans Employment Preference
Veterans' Preference can be applied for qualifying open and open, non-promotional examinations. To determine if the exam being administered qualifies for Veterans' Preference, please review the examination bulletin. Veterans' Preference will be awarded as follows:

  1. Any veteran, widow or widower of a veteran, or spouse of a 100% disabled veteran, who achieves a passing score in an entrance examination, shall be ranked in the top rank of the resulting eligibility list. Any veteran who has been dishonorably discharged or released is not eligible for Veterans' Preference.
  2. An entrance examination is defined, under the law, as any open competitive examination.
  3. Veterans' Preference is not granted once a person achieves permanent civil service status.

If you are currently competing in a State civil service examination for which Veterans' Preference will be granted, you will automatically be added to the top rank, provided your application for Veterans' Preference is approved before the eligible record is created. If you were previously successful in a State civil service exam for which Veterans' Preference was granted, you must provide a copy of your approval letter to the testing office that administered the examination in order to request that your preference be applied.

Employee Development Services
California's Employment Development Department (EDD) Workforce Services assists veterans and their eligible spouses maximize their employment and training opportunities. Veterans are entitled to many resources designed to help in their search for employment. 

The EDD veterans’ representatives specialize in assisting veterans in their efforts to return to work and are located in many local EDD offices. Services provided include a veteran 24-hour priority hold on all job listings, customized job search assistance, job fairs, employer recruitments, and other events and resources.

Veterans are encouraged to schedule an appointment with an EDD veterans’ representative for personalized services and assistance to achieve professional goals.

See EDD's Services for Veterans website for more information. 

Apprenticeships combine classroom instruction with paid, supervised, on-the-job training by experts in the field. The California Department of Industrial Relations Division of Apprenticeship Standards maintains a database of available apprenticeships by craft and geographic region and ensures that apprenticeships are not exploited. Candidates must meet minimum qualifications, including physical ability and willingness to work under the required job conditions, and apply with an employer in the field, the appropriate union, or EDD. Aptitude and other tests may be required and there may be a waiting list. For a list of local or regional apprenticeship opportunities, go to

Business License, Tax and Fee Waiver
Waiver of municipal, county and state business license fees, taxes and fees, for veterans who hawk, peddle or vend any goods, wares or merchandise owned by the veteran, except spirituous, malt, vinous or other intoxicating liquor, including sales from a fixed location.

Who May Be Eligible: Honorably discharged veterans who engage in sales (not services) activities may be eligible. Eligibility criteria differs based upon local jurisdiction.

Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Opportunities
Certified veteran owned businesses can participate in the state goal of awarding 3% of all state contracts to disabled veterans through the Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) Program.

Who May Be Eligible: Veterans with a service-connected disability rated at 10% or greater who own at least 51% of a business, and who meet other eligibility criteria.

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California Veteran Education Benefits

College Tuition Fee Waivers for Veterans' Dependents
Waiver of mandatory system-wide tuition and fees at any State of California Community College, California State University or University of California campus.

Who May Be Eligible:

Plan A

  • A child between 14 - 27 of a veteran who is totally service-connected disabled, or 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, Registered Domestic Partner (RDP), or unmarried surviving spouse or RDP of a wartime totally service-connected disabled 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 as declared by the U.S. Congress, or during any time in which the veteran was awarded a campaign or expeditionary medal. Concurrent receipt of benefits under Plan A and VA Chapter 35 benefits is prohibited. To receive benefits under Plan A, a dependent must sign an "election" statement acknowledging this fact. There are no income restrictions under this plan. To be eligible, the event which 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.

Plan B

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. The child's annual income, which includes the child's adjusted gross income, plus the value of support provided by a parent, may not exceed the annual income limit. The current academic year entitlement is based upon the previous calendar year's annual income. 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 concurrent VA Chapter 35 benefits.

Plan C

Any dependent of any member of the California National Guard, who in the line of duty while on active service to the state, was killed, died of a disability resulting from an event that occurred while in active service to the state, or is permanently disabled as a result of an event that occurred while in the service to the state is eligible. Surviving spouses or RDPs who have not remarried are also eligible.

"Active service to the state," for the purpose of this benefit, means a member of the California National Guard activated pursuant to Section 146 of the Military and Veterans Code. A copy of those orders pursuant to Section 146, not Section 143, must be furnished to establish eligibility.

Plan D

Medal of Honor recipients and children of Medal of Honor recipients under the age of 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.

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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 resident of California with a 50% or more service-connected disability, former POW, 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, and commercial use or for supplemental fees.

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Other California State Veteran Benefits

Disabled Veteran License Plates
Waiver of registration fees and free "DV" handicap parking license plates for one passenger motor vehicle, or one motorcycle, or one commercial motor vehicle of less than 8001 pounds unladen weight are available for certain 100% disabled veterans.

California Veterans' Cemeteries
There are 3 state veterans cemeteries within California:

  1. California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery - Monterey
  2. Northern California Veterans Cemetery - Igo
  3. Yountville Veterans Cemetery - Yountville

Complete, professional burial services 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.

Related Topics

Veteran Benefits