Many states have made legislative decisions that show appreciation for the sacrifices of servicemembers and veterans and their survivors. Benefits differ in each state, though. To know what the benefits are in your state, you need to do homework. Your research could result in monetary savings and opportunities.
Below are some resources and places to start.
- Veterans Service Office: There might be printed materials that enumerate county and state benefits for surviving spouses.
- MOAA Council and Chapter Legislative Chairs: Ask about benefits they are aware of that apply to surviving spouses.
- County Property Appraiser: Ask about a homestead exemption, a widow (widower) exemption, or an over age 65 exemption on your property tax or school tax. If income caps apply, what are your state’s limits and guidelines? In Florida, for example, there is a homestead, widow, and age exemption and property taxes on homesteaded homes. In addition, the property tax for homesteaded homes of disabled veterans is reduced by the same percentage of the disabilities affecting the veteran as certified by the VA. In Florida, that benefit passes to the unremarried surviving spouse and is transportable to a downsized home.
- State Legislator. If you have income tax in your state, some or all of your military retirement pay, or Surviving Benefit Plan may be deducted from your reported income. Ask about any other benefits from the state.
- Mayor’s Office. Call and ask about the benefits the city offers.
Aside from taxes, some additional areas to explore are scholarship opportunities for surviving spouses and dependent children; state, county, or city policies giving employment and/or promotion preference to a surviving spouse; portability of a professional license or forgiveness of fees; and discounts on passes to parks and museums.