BENEFITS FOR TEXAS VETERANS, DEPENDENTS AND SURVIVORS
Wartime veterans of the Spanish-American War through the Persian Gulf War, who were legal residents of Texas at the time they entered military service, are entitled to a waiver of tuition and some fees at State -supported colleges and universities. This benefit is also available to children of Texas servicemen who died or were killed in military service, and to children of Texas military personnel who are shown to be missing in action or prisoners of war. Also eligible are children of members of the Texas National Guard or the Texas Air National Guard killed since January 1, 1946, while on active duty either in service of Texas or the United States. Any person claiming this benefit must have exhausted all Federal educational benefits and be a legal residence of Texas at the time of application, which should be made through the registrar of the school of attendance.
Employment & Re-employment:
Wartime veterans have preference in employment with State agencies or offices, as do widows and children of those killed on active duty. State law requires that at least 40% of employees in each State agency must be veterans. Veterans who are employed by the State of Texas are entitled to claim their active duty military time toward retirement, provided they present a proper request and pay to the Retirement System the specified amount of retirement contribution for the time spent in the military. Such contributions is paid at the rate which was applicable at the time the employed veteran first was covered by the State Retirement System. Veterans may also use their military time toward retirement if they are members of the State Teachers Retirement System. Additionally,a veteran is entitled to reemployment rights with his last employer when he was released from the Armed Forces of the United States, providing his absence is not longer than four years. The right of reemployment is available regardless of whether the veteran was, prior to service, employed by the State, county or city government, or by private industry. Reemployment rights of veterans are now provided by both State and Federal laws.
Free Driver's License for Disabled Veterans:
Texas drivers licenses may be furnished free of charge to veterans who have service-connected disabilities rated 60% or more by the DVA or by a branch of the Armed Forces of the U.S. Application must be made prior to the time present drivers license expires. Application forms may be obtained from the Department of Public Safety's license examining offices located throughout the State. Application forms should be completed by the veteran and forwarded to the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)for verification of service-connected rating of 60% or more. If a veteran was disability- retired from military service and has no DVA claim file, proof of disability must come from their respective branch of military service.
Free Park Admission for Disabled Veterans:
Free admission to Texas State Parks is available to any veteran who has a service-connected disability which is rated 60% or more by DVA or a service-connected disability which has resulted in the loss of a lower extremity. Application may be made at the headquarters office of any Texas State park by providing satisfactory evidence of service-connected disability. If such information is not readily available, it can be obtained from the DVA regional office where the claims folder is located. The State Parklands Passport is available to any veteran who meets the disability requirements, whether or not he or she resides in Texas. The Passport provides only free admission to the State parks, and does not exempt anyone from payments of other charges, such as camping fees, etc.
Free Recording of Military Discharges:
Under State laws, the County Clerk in each County is required to record, free of charge, the official discharge of each veteran who served in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. This free service is very important as it provides veterans with a ready source from which they can obtain a certified copy of their discharge whenever it is needed.
Fishing & Hunting Licenses for Disabled Veterans:
Disabled veterans are eligible for special hunting and fishing licenses, at a reduced cost. A disabled veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States is one who has a service-connected disability , as defined by the Department of Veterans Affairs, consisting of the loss of use of a lower extremity or of a disability rating of 60% or more, and who is receiving compensation from the United States government for the disability. A resident veteran as described in the law may hunt wild turkey and deer without a resident hunting license if he has acquired a resident exemption hunting license.
Special License Plates:
Disabled Veterans, Prisoners of War, Pearl Harbor Survivors, Purple Heart and Medal of Honor plates are among the special license plates available to eligible veterans and their survivors for personal use on their automobile or light commercial vehicle of one ton or less. Disabled veterans must have a a service-connected disability rating of 60% or more or 40% due to amputation of a lower extremity. Former prisoners of war are eligible if they were captured or incarcerated by an enemy of the United States during a period of conflict with the United States and at the time of capture, were citizens of the United States. Eligibility is for both former members of the Armed Forces and civilian U.S. citizens who were captured by the enemy of our government. Disabled Veterans and Medal of Honor license plates exempt a veteran from payment of parking fees on parking meters or spaces provided by any government other than the Federal Government. For further information contact the nearest vehicle title registration office or your county tax office.
Tax Exemption for Veterans:
Disabled Texas Veterans who meet certain requirements, their surviving spouses and minor children of a person who died on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and are living in Texas are eligible for property tax exemptions on the appraised value of their Texas property. The exemption is mandatory and applies to taxes levied by all taxing authorities in the State. A veteran whose service-connected disabilities are rated less than 10% by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or a branch of the Armed Forces, is not entitled to a property tax exemption. For those rated 10% or more, the tax exemption below applies: Disability Rating Tax Exemption 10% through 30% First $ 5,000 of appraised value 31% through 50% First $ 7,500 of appraised value 51% through 70% First $10,000 of appraised value 71% or more First $12,000 of appraised value A veteran whose disability is 10% or more, and who is 65 years or older, is entitled to exemption of the first $12,000 of appraised value of property. A veteran whose disability consist of the loss of the loss of use of one or more limbs, total blindness in one or both eyes, or suffers paraplegia, is exempt on the first $12,000 of appraised value of his or her property. A veteran who qualifies under more than one of the exemptions may not combine the exemptions, but may take the one providing the largest exclusion. The surviving spouse of a person who dies on active duty is entitled to exemption of the first $5,000 of appraised value. The first $5,000 of appraised value of the child's property is exempt as long as the child is unmarried and under 21 years of age. The surviving spouse of a deceased veteran who, at the time of his or her death had a compensable disability and was entitled to an exemption, is also entitled to that exemption if he or she is unmarried. This law is administered at the local level by the various taxing authorities. To apply, obtain an application from the local appraisal district office. Applications must be completed every year between January 1 and April 30. If a veteran died, and never filed a claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the surviving spouse has one year to apply for the property tax exemption, providing that he or she is granted DIC Benefits. Veterans who have suffered the loss of use of one or more limbs, or are totally blind in one eye or both or suffered paraplegia if he or she is less than 70%, must complete State Property Tax Board Form 11,22 (Application for Disabled Veteran's or Survivor's Exemption), or secure a letter from the attending physician which will indicate the medical problem. By following these conditions the veteran will be entitled to the $12,000 property tax exemption of the appraised value of the property.
Texas Veterans Commissoin:
The Texas Veterans Commission ia a State agency that was created to serve the needs of our State's veterans. Commission personnel assist veterans, their dependents and survivors in filing claims for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) compensation, pension, death benefits, educational assistance, home loans, insurance,hospitalization and outpatient care, as well as numerous other benefits and privileges. Assistance in filing for DVA benefits is also given to dependents and survivors of veterans in State schools, centers, institutions, orphanages, and homes. Additionally, assistance is provided in filing for State benefits. The Texas Veterans Commission has a web site which includes a listing of all TVC offices, County Service Offices, VA facilities having jurisdiction in Texas, state benefits (including the Hazel-wood Act) and other information. The TVC also has links to other state agencies; e.g., the Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Veterans Land Board. In the future, TVC hopes to add links and e-mail addresses for the County Service Offices, and listings and links to all State veterans affairs offices nationwide as they become available. Web Site: http://www.tvc.state.tx.us/ Send e-mail to: email@example.com FAX: 512-475-2395.
Texas Veterans Land Program:
An individual who has completed 20 years of reserve military service creditable for retirement under applicable federal laws, or completed all initial active duty training required as a condition of enlistment or appointment in the Texas National Guard, is eligible to participate in the land program. In addition, the unmarried surviving spouse of a Texas Veteran whose home of record at time of entry was Texas and who died in the line of duty may apply to purchase land through the land program. At a slightly higher interest rate (funds provided by taxable bonds), individuals who have served in the United States Public Health Service, and meet all the other requirements, are eligible to participate in the land program.
- Veterans Housing Assistance Program
- Veterans Home Improvement Program
- Veterans Land Program
Call the Texas Veterans Land Board Toll Free 1-800-252-VETS. or visit the TVLB site http://www.glo.state.tx.us/vlb/
Department of Veterans Affairs - General Information
Active Military Service Amendment to 38 CFR 3.7:
On January 6, 1998, a final rule was reported in the Federal Register amending 38 CFR 3.7 recognizing the service of two additional groups as being active military service, making them eligible for VA benefits. The Register states that "for VA purposes, the service of two groups constituted active military service: The U.S. Flight Crew and Aviation Ground Support Employees of Northeast Airlines Atlantic Division, who served overseas as a result of Northeast Airlines' Contract with the Air Transport Command during the period December 7, 1941 through August 14, 1945, and U.S. Civilian Flight Crew and Aviation Ground Support Employees of Braniff the jurisdiction of the North Atlantic Wing, Air Transport Command (ATC), during the period February 26, 1942 through August 14, 1945."
All Veterans' Benefits to be Paid Electronically by 1999:
All benefits payments to veterans, their dependents, and survivors from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be electronically deposited into their bank accounts by 1999. Under the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, all federal agencies are required to use Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) methods to transfer funds to their benefits recipients. The act requires that this be accomplished by January 2, 1999. Nearly 60 percent of VA's benefits recipients already participate in the Department's Direct Deposit program. Individuals who do not have an account with a financial institution will need to participate in a Government program called the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) program. Benefits recipients will be assigned as account in their name at a federally insured financial institution that allows them to access their funds at a reasonable cost and has the same consumer protections as other accounts at the same financial institutions. Details on the operation of the program, including how these accounts will be made available, are now being developed by the Department of the Treasury. Waivers will be available for veterans with disabilities which make using EFT unfeasible or who confront geographic barriers preventing them from receiving their payments electronically. The Debt Collection Improvement Act also pertains to all other types of checks issued by VA, including payroll, vendor and insurance checks. Waivers for electronic issuance of such checks are also available. The Department of the Treasury published a proposed rule Sept. 15, 1997 in the Federal Register on implementing the act government wide. The proposed rule was available for public comment until December 16, 1997. The proposed rule and background information on EPT are posted on the Internet at: www.fms.treas.gov/eft
Court of Veterans Appeals Address:
The Court of Veterans Appeals's old address was on "K" Street, N.W., Washington, DC. The Court has not been at that location for several years. Some out-dated forms in circulation have the old address, which has delayed the delivery to documents to the Court. These forms should have been discarded. The Court's current address is:
U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals
625 Indiana Avenue, N.W.
Washington, CD 20004
Public Law 104-201 was signed into law on September 23, 1996. Section 653 provides that for severance, separation or readjustment pay received after September 30, 1996, VA should not recoup any amounts withheld for Federal income tax purposes. VA has directed regional offices that only the after-tax amount of severance, separation or readjustment pay can be recouped provided the payment was received by the veteran after September 30, 1996. If the veteran received such payment after September 30, 1996, it must be confirm that the amount reported was the after tax amount before taking award action.
Department of Veterans Affairs Insurance Center
Insurance Operations Consolidated:
Beginning October 1996, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs began the process of consolidating its two insurance centers - Philadelphia and St. Paul, Minnesota - into a single facility in Philadelphia. Approximately 30,000 records every other month have been transferred from the St.Paul facility to Philadelphia. Personnel will continue transferring a similar number of records every other month until all records have been consolidated in Philadelphia. The transfer will take three years. As records are received in Philadelphia, policyholders will be notified by letter of the records transfer. Premium paying customers will receive new bills with instructions to begin sending their payments to Philadelphia. For information, call toll-free (24-hours/day) 1-800-669-8477.
Direct Deposit for Insurance Payments - NSLI Program:
In keeping with the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (DCIA), insured's and their beneficiaries will be able to receive their National Service Life Insurance payments by direct deposit. (Such direct deposit, for the purpose of complying with the DCIA, herein means electronic transfer funds.) The DCIA mandates that recurring Federal payments be made by direct deposit. For the Government Life Insurance programs, this means that monthly award payees must receive their payments by direct deposit. Most monthly award payments go to beneficiaries in the form of death awards paid in monthly installments. A smaller number are paid to insured's who qualify for disability payment or who receive endowment or surrender proceeds in monthly installments. Each payee in this group will receive an "invitation" letter explaining the new law and an application for applying for direct deposit. The application is to be completed and returned to the Philadelphia Insurance Center so the payee can be placed on direct deposit. This mailing will not be sent to payees with foreign addresses. The mailing began in April 1998 and will take approximately ten months to complete. The first direct deposit payments began in June 1998. Generally, most applicants should be processed within thirty to sixty days of being returned to the Insurance Center. As stated in Treasury Department regulations, the applications will also provide a "waiver" section. By signing the waiver section of the application and returning it to the Insurance Center, the payee is stating that direct deposit will cause them certain hardships. These payees will continue to receive their payments by check. The Insurance Center will also make direct deposit available, on a voluntary basis, and to in-force policyholders, and to one sum award recipients, beginning January 1, 1999. It is envisioned most one sum award payees will still wish to receive their payments in the form of a single check or checks.
Reduction in Monthly Payments for VSLI ("RS" and "W"):
Legislation was passed in 1988 permitting VA to increase payments to those receiving lifetime income as a result of the proceeds of Government Life Insurance. This was recommended by VA because of the significant interest earnings on investments held to provide lifetime income payments. The original amount of monthly income payments will remain the guaranteed minimum payment amount. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs has the authority, when necessary, to periodically adjust the payments to annuitants. Such adjustments are based on death claims paid and the accumulation of interest earned on investments. Due to lower interest earnings on investments held to provide lifetime income payments, the DVA was forced to reduce monthly payments in order to ensure that it has sufficient funds to pay all future claims. While it is true that today's economy is strong and investment earnings are generally higher, the DVA is required by Congress to invest in Government Treasury Securities, which tend to provide a lower rate of return but are more secure. It should be pointed out that the new monthly award amount is still greater than the guaranteed monthly award amount. Beneficiaries will never receive less than the guaranteed monthly award amount. This reduction was effective for all payments made on or after January 1, 1998.
VA Insurance Hoax Resurfaces; New Target - Persian Gulf Vets:
The rumor that VA will pay a special insurance dividend to veterans is again causing problems for VA, veterans and service officers. This rumor began more than 40 years ago and, while every attempt is made to control this problem, it seems the hoax continues to grow. This time the hoax is worse than usual. VA has indicated it receives as many as 20,000 requests a week for this benefit. Veterans are told that VA was sending a check for hundreds of dollars--a so-called insurance dividend- -to any veteran who requested it. In more recent years, however, bogus brochures have been targeting America's newest generation of wartime veterans - the Gulf War Veterans. The current hoax focuses on holders of Servicemen's Group Life Insurance (SGLI). The phony applications claim dividends or refunds have been recently authorized by Congress. In fact, there is no such dividend for veterans who do not keep their insurance in force and no legislation has been proposed in Congress. The hoax applications are usually unwittingly printed in magazines, newspapers and newsletters, or distributed in handbills. Attempts to trace the origin of the hoax have been unsuccessful, but it is believed that its life has been perpetuated by the innocent duplication of bogus information. You are reminded that each inquiry must be handled appropriately to ensure that the veteran does not have an active insurance policy that would pay a dividend in accordance with existing law. You are also reminded that VA will not pay dividends on policies that have lapsed or those policies that covered active military duty personnel during their service.
Non Existing VA Insurance Service:
The Insurance Service can be reached through the World Wide Web by accessing the insurance portion of VA's web site. The address is: http://www.vba.va.gov/ro/philly/contact.htm
You may still reach the Insurance Service by call the toll-free number at 1-800-669-8477, or by writing: VA Regional Office and Insurance Center, P.O. Box 42954, Philadelphia, PA 19101. The mailing address for veterans whose policies are still maintained by VA's St. Paul office is: VA Regional Office and Insurance Center, Bishop Henry Whipple Federal Building, Fort Snelling, St. Paul, MN 55111.
Displaying the POW/MIA Flag:
Public Law 105-85 requires that the building containing the Office of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs display the POW/MIA flag on six specific days: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Flag Day, Armed Forces Day, POW/MIA Recognition Day, and Veterans Day. However, Secretary Togo West Jr., (while Acting Secretary) directed that it be displayed everyday, effective February 10, 1998. In the case of VA medical centers, display of the POW/MIA flag will be on any day on which the U.S. flag is displayed. At U.S. Postal Service offices, the POW/MIA flag display day includes the last business day before one of the six designated dates that in any year is not itself a business day.
Texas Veterans Commission
The Texas Veterans Commission ia a State agency that was created to serve the needs of our State's veterans. Commission personnel assist veterans, their dependents and survivors in filing claims for U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) compensation, pension, death benefits, educational assistance, home loans, insurance, hospitalization and outpatient care, as well as numerous other benefits and privileges. Assistance in filing for DVA benefits is also given to dependents and survivors of veterans in State schools, centers, institutions, orphanages, and homes. Additionally, assistance is provided in filing for State benefits. The Texas Veterans Commission has a web site which includes a listing of all TVC offices, County Service Offices, VA facilities having jurisdiction in Texas, state benefits (including the Hazel-wood Act) and other information. The TVC also has links to other state agencies; e.g., the Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Veterans Land Board. In the future, TVC hopes to add links and e-mail addresses for the County Service Offices, and listings and links to all State veterans affairs offices nationwide as they become available. Web Site: http://www.tvc.state.tx.us/ Send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org FAX: 512-475-2395.
Texas Veterans Land Board
The Texas Veterans Home Improvement Program is a program that will lend eligible Texas Veterans as much as $25,000 for up to 20 years on a fixed-rate note to make substantial repairs to their existing primary residence. No down payment is required. For loans of less than $10,000, the maximum term of the loan will be 10 years. All loans are FHA insured. Veterans can receive loans for a variety of home improvements including room additions, roofing, garages, sidewalls, driveways, screened porches, patios, decks, fences and thermal windows. Contact the Texas Veterans Land Board for a complete list of eligible improvements. All loans will be made through the Texas Veterans Land Board. Applications for certification are available through the TVLB. A $25 non-refundable certification fee is required.
The Texas Veterans Housing Assistance Program (VHAP) was initiated to help eligible Texas Veterans who had been frozen out of the home-buying market by high interest rates. Since making its first loan in 1984, the Texas VHAP has helped more than 35,000 Texas Veterans purchase homes. The VHAP provides low-interest loans for the purchase of a primary residence up to $45,000 to use in conjunction with a VA, FHA or conventional loan from a TVLB-approved private lending institution. Housing loans that do not exceed the $45,000 maximum may be requested directly through the TVLB. All TVLB-originated loans are subject to an 85% loan-to-value ratio. This means the TVLB will lend only 85% of the home's appraised value, up to $45,000. Down payment requirements and financial qualifications will be determined by the primary lender. All VHAP loans must be originated by an approved lender or the TVLB. Loans are available in 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-year terms. There is no maximum sales price on a home purchased with a Texas VHAP loan. Because all Texas VHAP loans are funded by the sale of bonds and there are no discount points charged on a loan, a Texas VHAP loan is usually below the existing market rate for home mortgages. This results in lower payments. Applications for certification are available through approved lenders or the TVLB. A $25 non-refundable certification fee is required.
Since its beginning in 1949, more than 152,00 Texas Veterans have received long-term, low-interest loans through the Texas Veterans Land Program. Under this program, a veteran must purchase at least five acres, and the property must have at lease 30 foot-wide access to public road. Currently the Texas Veterans Land Boards has two (2) types of loans available. The program offers eligible Texas Veterans either the standard $20,000 maximum loan, or the enhanced $40,000 maximum loan, for the thirty-year term, to buy a minimum of five acres of land. A five percent down payment is required, resulting in a maximum net loan of $19,000 (with the standard loan) or $38,000 (with the enhanced loan). The only difference between the two programs is that the interest rate on the enhanced loan is lightly higher than the rate for the standard loan. All other terms and conditions are the same. A Veteran can receive an application for a loan by submitting a $25 non-refundable application fee to the Texas Veterans Land Board. The application is valid for 90 days only. There is also a $350 loan processing fee associated with the loan, and a contract maintenance fee will be added to each installment during the 30-year term of the contract.
Texas Veterans Land Board Loan Rates:
|Land Program||Up to $20,000 - 5% minimum down payment - 30-year term at 6.65%|
|Up to $40,000 - 5% minimum down payment - 30-year term at 7.75% (new low rate)|
|Housing Assistance Program||For Texas Veterans who entered service before Jan.1 1977 and who have been discharged from active duty for fewer than 30 years:||Rates for all other eligible Veterans service after 1976 or who have been discharged from active duty for more than 30 years:|
VHAP 15 year 5.75%
VHAP 20,25,30 year 6.25%
VHAP 15 year 7.25%
VHAP 20,25,30 year 7.75%
VHAP 15 year 5.925%
VHAP 20,25,30 year 6.425%
VHAP 15 year 7.425%
VHAP 20,25,30 year 7.925%
|Home Improvement Program||Up to $25,000 - 7.25% (+.50% for FHA insurance)|