Advisors who know what those benefits are, in retirement, college education or health care, can become a great help to military clients. Those include obvious benefits like the GI Bill for college, especially the post-9/11 GI Bill. But there are also property tax breaks, mortgage breaks, medical benefits, college benefits for the children of veterans and job programs that allow veterans to move to the head of the application line. There are also long-term-care benefits for those with more serious injuries. “They can apply for more specific vocational programs or even graduate school,” Bruer says. “Anything above and beyond what their 9/11 GI Bill would cover.”

GI Bill

The post-9/11 GI Bill will cover all in-state tuition and fees for up to four years at public schools and also offers certain maximums per year for private schools and out-of-state schools (it was $23,671 for the 2018-2019 academic year). But there are other perks as well—an unused portion of the benefit (up to 36 months) can be transferred to spouses for vets who have served six years and commit to four more. After 10 years, a veteran’s children can use the benefit as well. 

Veterans also get job help and also job preference, according to their different “scores” in the U.S. government federal civil service. Under the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 (Veterans Opportunity to Work), active-duty military members can be treated as veterans in their job searches, since many start looking for work before they’ve separated from service.

There are also tax breaks that disabled veterans are entitled too, says advisor Chris Jackson, who also works with veterans and military widows.

“The VA may determine retroactively that you were entitled to additional disability benefits that were already reported in prior years as taxable pension,” says Jackson, who works at Lionshare Partners in Los Angeles. “You may consider amending previous tax returns to reclassify the amounts based on the VA directive, and apply for an income tax refund.”

Jackson says it’s important for veterans to work with tax advisors who know how their income is categorized.

“The first thing to know is that pension payments received after retirement from the military are taxable and should be reported on your tax returns, he says. “Disability benefits received from the Department of Veterans Affairs do not need to be reported on your personal tax return.”

The VA website also mentions the Survivors Pension benefit, “a tax-free monetary benefit payable to a low-income, un-remarried surviving spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) of a deceased veteran with wartime service.” That benefit is figured as the difference between your income and a pension limit set by Congress, Jackson says. The VA “generally pays this difference in 12 equal monthly payments.”

College Help

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