California offers various benefits for veterans. On this page, you’ll find a concise overview of each of these benefits.

California Veterans Homes

California operates eight veterans homes located in

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

Eligibility for admission is open to veterans aged 55 and above who have been discharged from active military service under honorable conditions. However, the age requirement is waived for disabled or homeless veterans in need of long-term care.

California Veteran Financial Benefits

Income Tax

Residents of California on active duty stationed outside the state are exempt from paying state income taxes.

CalVet Farm and Home Loans

California provides farm, home, mobile home, construction, home improvement, and rehabilitation loans to veterans who have been honorably discharged. These loans feature highly competitive rates, rapid processing, and comprehensive coverage for flood, earthquake, and disaster. Eligibility extends to all veterans with an honorable discharge and a minimum of 90 days of active service.

Veterans Property Tax Exemption

In California, honorably discharged veterans or the spouse or pensioned parent of a deceased, honorably discharged veteran can benefit from a $4,000 exemption on real property (such as a home) or personal property (such as a boat). However, individuals who own property valued at $5,000 or more ($10,000 or more for a married couple or the unmarried surviving spouse of a qualified veteran) are not eligible for this exemption.

Disabled Veterans Property Tax Exemption

California offers a property tax exemption for the home of a 100% disabled veteran or an unmarried spouse of a deceased disabled veteran.

There are two tiers of the Disabled Veterans’ Exemption:

  1. Basic Exemption: Also known as the $100,000 exemption, this is accessible to all qualifying claimants. The exemption amount increases annually based on an inflation factor. For instance, in 2018, the basic exemption amount was $134,706.
  2. Low-Income Exemption: Also known as the $150,000 exemption, this is available to qualifying claimants whose annual household income falls below a specified limit. Both the low-income exemption amount and the annual income limit increase annually based on an inflation factor. For instance, in 2018, the low-income exemption amount was $202,060, and the annual household income limit was $60,490.

There are no personal wealth restrictions for this exemption, and it applies only to the principal residence. Each home can receive only one property exemption. Given the complexity of these exemptions and the specific eligibility criteria, it’s advisable to consult the local assessor’s office for detailed requirements.

California Military Family Relief Fund

The California Military Family Relief Fund (CMFRF) was established to offer short-term financial aid, provided in the form of grants, to California National Guard members and their families impacted by mobilization and deployment.

Motor Vehicle Registration Fees Waived

Medal of Honor recipients, former prisoners of war (POWs), and certain permanently and totally disabled veterans may qualify for a waiver of registration fees and receive complimentary license plates for one passenger motor vehicle, one motorcycle, or one commercial motor vehicle weighing less than 8,001 pounds when unladen.

Business License, Tax and Fee Waiver

Veterans honorably discharged from service who engage in the sale of goods from a stationary location through hawking, peddling, or vending may qualify for an exemption from municipal, county, and state business license fees, along with other applicable taxes and fees. However, this exemption does not extend to the sale of alcoholic beverages.

California Veterans Employment Preference

When honorably discharged veterans and their spouses, or surviving spouses of 100% disabled veterans, successfully pass a state employment test, they are automatically placed at the forefront of the eligibility list.

Disabled Veteran State Contract Preference

The Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise program supports small businesses owned wholly or partially by disabled veterans in their pursuit of state contracts.

Commercial Driver’s License

Service members and veterans who have experience operating military motor vehicles equivalent to commercial motor vehicles 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

Exemption from compulsory systemwide tuition and fees is granted at any State of California Community College, California State University institution, or University of California campus. Eligibility falls into four categories:

Plan A

Eligibility Criteria:

  1. Child of a Service-Connected, Totally Disabled Veteran or Deceased Veteran: Children aged 14 to 27 of a service-connected, totally disabled veteran, or a veteran whose death was officially rated as service-connected, are eligible. If the child is a veteran, the age limit extends to 30.
  2. Spouse of a Totally Service-Connected Disabled Veteran or Unmarried Surviving Spouse: The spouse of a totally service-connected disabled veteran, as well as the unmarried surviving spouse of a totally service-connected disabled wartime veteran, are eligible.
  3. Dependents of Veterans Declared Missing in Action or Captured: Any dependent of a 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, is eligible.

Additional Requirements:

  • 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.
  • Plan A and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Chapter 35 benefits cannot be received simultaneously.
  • There are no income restrictions.
  • Basic entitlement to benefits must have occurred before the child’s 21st birthday.

Plan B

Eligibility under Plan B extends to the child of a veteran who had a service-connected disability, or was eligible for a service-connected disability at the time of death, or passed away due to service-related causes. There are income limits associated with this plan. Unlike Plan A, wartime service is not a prerequisite, and there are no specific age requirements. Only children are eligible dependents under this plan. Importantly, there is no restriction against receiving VA Chapter 35 benefits alongside Plan B benefits.

Plan C

Eligibility extends to any dependent of a member of the California National Guard who was killed in the line of duty, died due to a disability received in the line of duty, or became permanently disabled in the line of duty. Surviving spouses who have not remarried are also eligible.

Plan D

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 provides coverage for all or part of the costs incurred at selected state universities and community colleges. Guard members must maintain active status while attending school, meeting certain GPA, academic program, and enrollment criteria.

California Veteran Recreation Benefits

Fishing and Hunting Licenses

Veterans with a service-connected disability of 50% or higher may qualify for reduced annual fees for fishing and hunting licenses. California residency is not required to access this benefit.

State Parks and Recreation Pass

Any honorably discharged war veteran residing in California with a service-connected disability of 50% or higher, or who is a former prisoner of war or Medal of Honor recipient, is eligible for a complimentary pass granting access to all California state parks. This pass covers both camping and day use. However, it is not applicable at units managed by local government, private agencies, or concessionaires, and it cannot be used for special events, group campsites, commercial activities, or supplemental fees. Please note that there may be a convenience fee for online reservations.

California State Veterans Cemeteries

California hosts three state veterans cemeteries:

  1. California Central Coast Veterans Cemetery in Seaside.
  2. Northern California Veterans Cemetery in Igo.
  3. Yountville Veterans Home Cemetery in Yountville. (Please note that this cemetery currently exclusively accommodates the interment of the Veterans Home’s residents and their eligible dependents.)

Conversations are ongoing regarding the selection of a site for a prospective Southern California Veterans Cemetery.

Comprehensive burial services are provided to veterans at no charge, with a $500 fee applicable for spouses or dependents. Veterans, dependents, and survivors who satisfy VA eligibility criteria for burial in a national cemetery may qualify for interment.

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