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New York Veterans Benefits
The following are the New York veterans’ benefits programs for education, employment, healthcare, housing and taxes.
New York State Veterans Benefits
New York State Veteran Education Benefits
In addition to federal programs such as the GI Bill, there are veterans’ benefits programs provided by the states.
Veterans Tuition Awards
The Veterans Tuition Awards, managed by the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC), awards are for full-time study and part-time study for eligible Veterans matriculated at an undergraduate or graduate degree-granting institution or in an approved vocational training program in New York State.
- Eligible students are those who are New York State residents discharged under honorable conditions from the U.S. Armed forces and who are one of the following:
- Vietnam Veterans who served in Indochina between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975.
- Persian Gulf Veterans who served in the Persian Gulf on or after August 2, 1990.
- Afghanistan Veterans who served in Afghanistan during hostilities on or after September 11, 2001.
- Veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who served in hostilities that occurred after February 28, 1961 as evidenced by receipt of an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Navy Expeditionary Medal or a Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal.
New York State Regents Awards (for Children)
Provides up to $450 per year to students whose parent(s) served in the US Armed Forces during specified times of national emergency.
Military Service Recognition Scholarship
Through the New York State Higher Education Services (HESC), the Military Service Recognition Scholarship (MSRS) provides financial aid to children, spouses, and dependents of members of the United States Armed Forces or state organized militia who, at any time on or after August 2, 1990, while a New York State resident, died or becomes severely and permanently disabled while engaged in hostilities or training for hostilities.
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New York State Veteran Housing Benefits
Homes for Veterans Program
The Homes for Veterans Program is through the State of New York Mortgage Agency, (SONYMA.)
They offer fixed-rate mortgages with interest rates 0.375% below the already low interest rates charged on SONYMA mortgages with down payment assistance. Veterans and their spouses do not need to be a first-time homebuyer to use this program.
There is down payment assistance up to the greater of $3,000 or 3% of the home purchase price, not to exceed $15,000. There are also no points or origination fees, and the minimum borrower cash contribution is only 1%, where as the remaining 2% can come from a gift or other acceptable source.
Veterans who qualify will need to have served in the active military and discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.
In addition to that, any active duty service member, honorably discharged national guardsmen, or any honorably discharged reservist, who are also first-time homeowners can take advantage of this program if they are stationed in New York, regardless of discharge status.
Property Tax Exemptions for Veterans
New York State has three different property tax exemptions for veterans.
Alternative Veterans Exemption
- Available only on residential property of a veteran who has served during a designated time of war or received an expeditionary medal.
- Currently available in over 95% of the county, city, town, and village taxing jurisdictions across the state. The remainder of these jurisdictions may choose to offer this exemption in the future.
- There are extra tax reductions available for combat and United States Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected disabilities.
- May be available for school districts taxes but the school districts must elect to offer the exemption.
Cold War Veterans’ Exemption
- Available on a residential property of a veteran who served during the Cold War period.
- Counties, cities, towns, and villages have the option to offer this to qualified veterans.
- Extra tax reductions are available for United States Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected disabilities.
Eligible Funds Exemption
- This is a partial exemption.
- Applies to property that a veteran or certain other designated person purchases. Such owners must purchase the property with a pension, bonus, or insurance monies.
- May be available for school district and other taxes.
New York State Veteran Healthcare Benefits
New York State Blind Annuity Program
The New York State Blind Annuity Program benefit is for wartime veterans that are legally blind or surviving un-remarried spouses of legally blind wartime veterans who live and are domiciled in the state of New York. Being blind does not have to be service-connected to qualify.
The veteran will have to had served during specific wartime periods or received an expeditionary medal for certain conflicts and have served at least 90 days on active duty for other than training purposes. However, they do not need to have the 90 days if they were discharged for a service-connected disability.
If a veteran is eligible for the program but never used it before they passed away, their unremarried surviving spouse of that veteran might still be eligible to receive it.
New York State Veterans’ Nursing Homes
New York State has five Veterans’ Homes in:
- Stony Brook
In order to be eligible for these homes, a veteran will have needed to have entered active duty from the state of New York, or be a New York state resident for one year prior to their application for their admission.
The veteran will need to have an honorable discharge from the US Armed Forces, and have had at least 30 days of active duty service.
Spouses of a qualified veteran may be admitted to a home as well if the spouse was married to them for one year prior to application and requires skilled nursing care.
A veteran who is accompanied by their spouse, as long as they both need nursing care, will receive the highest priority for admission followed by “wartime” veterans, then “non-wartime” veterans, then spouses and unremarried surviving spouses, and after them, Gold Star mothers and fathers.
New York State Veteran Employment Benefits
Experience Counts Veteran Employment Program
In 2011, Governor Cuomo launched an initiative to ensure that veteran’s valuable and specialized military experience is recognized when they are transitioning to the civilian workforce.
Experience Counts would identify ways that the state of New York can better recognize these skills and training.
As a part of Experience Counts, the Department of Motor Vehicles will make it easier and less costly for military members who have experience driving trucks and heavy equipment during their military service to be able to obtain a New York commercial driver’s license by waiving the road test.
The Department of Health will also allow military training and experience as a medic to count toward certification for home health aides and nursing home aides in addition to already doing this for those who get certified as a paramedic.
Some of the current licenses and certifications that are covered under the “Experience Counts Campaign” are:
- Advanced Emergency Medical
- Armed Security Guard
- Bus Driver
- Certified First Responder
- Crane Operator
- Emergency Medical
- Home Health Aide
- Home Nurse Aide
- Licensed Radiologic Technologist
- Personal Care
- Security Guard
- Tractor Trailer Operator
- Truck Driver
Veterans Preference Points for Civil Service
For veterans going into or in civil service positions, non-disabled veterans will receive an additional 5 points on their competitive examination for an original appointment or 2.5 points for a competitive examination for promotion.
If the veteran is a disabled veteran they will receive 10 additional points on their competitive examination for an original appointment or 5 points for a competitive examination for promotion.
The points will be added to the final earning rating after the veteran has qualified in a competitive examination.
With the Hire-a-Vet Credit, employers are encouraged to hire a veteran. Businesses who employ a qualified veteran for no less than 35 hours per week for one full year, can earn up to $5,000 for hiring a qualified veteran and up to $15,000 for hiring a disabled veteran.
A qualified veteran would be someone who served on active duty in the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Reserves, National Guard, New York Guard or New York Naval Militia and was released with a general or honorable discharge after September 11, 2001.
RELATED: Guide to Veterans’ Preference Points
New York State Peddler’s License
Veterans in New York with an other than dishonorable discharge from the US Armed Forces can apply for a free lifetime Veterans Peddler’s License as long as the veteran did serve overseas in peacetime or wartime.
The license will allow the veteran or their surviving spouse the right to peddle, vend, and sell goods, wares, or merchandise or solicit trade on the highways within a specific jurisdiction.
The permit does not supersede any restrictions that are placed by the city, town, or village clerks. In New York City, there are special licenses available for veterans with disabilities.
New York State Department of Labor Employment Services
The New York State Department of Labor gives veterans priority service in all New York State employment and training programs. Career assessment, job referrals, resume preparation, job-search planning, 55-c Civil Service positions, and more will be included.
Veterans With Disabilities Employment Program (55-c)
Section 55-c of the New York State Civil Service Law authorizes 500 positions to be filled with qualified wartime veterans with disabilities. Applicants will need to meet the minimum qualifications for the position but are not required to take an examination. They are not guaranteed state employment and are not placed on a hiring list.
In order to be eligible, a veteran would need to have a letter of certification of a service-connected disability rating of 10% or higher from the US Veterans Administration. They can also qualify if they have received the Purple Heart medal.
Military Retirement Pay
New York state does not tax military retirement pay.
Other Veterans’ Benefits Programs in New York
Incarcerated Veterans Program
This program is administered by the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS.) The program is designed to address the readjustment and reentry needs of veterans returning to society following a period of time in military service. The goals are to help incarcerated veterans become aware of their entitlements and benefits and available community resources, assist them in verifying their veteran status, provide counseling to address service related problems, and provide access to veterans service providers in the community.
Gold Star Parent Annuity Program
This Gold Star Parent Annuity Benefit authorizes an annuity payment of up to $500 per Gold Star parent of a deceased veteran. Gold Star parents who qualify will need to verify their eligibility on a yearly basis. Applicants also need to be a resident of the state of New York.
For more information regarding New York veterans’ benefits, please visit – New York State Division of Veterans Affairs
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About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.