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Pennsylvania Veterans Benefits
The following are the Pennsylvania veterans’ benefits programs for education, healthcare, housing and employment.
Pennsylvania Veterans Benefits Programs
Education Benefits for Veterans In Pennsylvania
In addition to federal programs such as the GI Bill, there are veterans benefits programs provided by the states. The following are the Pennsylvania veterans’ benefits programs for education.
> Find VA-approved colleges and universities in Pennsylvania with our School Finder.
Education Gratuity Program
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides financial assistance (up to $500 per term/semester up to eight semesters) to children of honorably discharged Veterans who have service-connected disabilities and served during a period of war or armed conflict or children of Veterans who die or died in service during a period of war or armed conflict. Veteran Eligibility:
- Died in service during a period of war or armed conflict, or Honorable Discharge
- Served during established war service dates as determined by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
- Veteran must have a 100% permanent and total service connected disability rating by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs Child Eligibility:
- Must be between the ages of 16 and 23, living within Pennsylvania five years prior to application and must attend an approved school within the state
- Applicant must demonstrate a financial need
The State Education Assistance Program
The State Education Assistance Program (EAP) can pay up to $3,746, per semester (total of 10 semesters) if you are a PA resident with a 6 year Guard contract and attending a PA school.
You can also use EAP with Federal Tuition Assistance (FTA) or Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), Chapter 1606.
Pennsylvania Extends College Benefits To National Guard Families
Lawmakers are trying to solve the problem of the cost of higher education on the state and national levels.
In June 2019, Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania signed House Bill 1324 into law. This bill, known as the PA GI Bill, and will be the first program of its kind in the United States.
This will allow spouses and children of national guard members to attend college for a free or reduced cost. With the PA GI Bill, if a service member reenlists for six years, they can transfer their GI benefits to a spouse or a child.
These benefits include 10 semesters, or five years of tuition-free education at a Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency approved institution at the tuition rate that is set by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE.)
These benefits are expected to help up to 8,000 military families, help re-enlistment rates, grow the economy, and help other states to create the same type of benefit for their national guard families.
Housing Benefits for Veterans In Pennsylvania
Disabled Veterans’ Real Estate Tax Exemption
Honorably discharged veterans who are also residents of Pennsylvania, shall be exempt from paying all real estate taxes that are levied upon any building. This includes up to 5 acres of land.
To be eligible, they will need to have served during established war dates determined by the US Department of Veterans Affairs, must be blind or a paraplegic or have sustained the loss of two or more limbs, or have a service-connected disability, declared by the US Department of Veterans Affairs to be a total or 100% permanent disability.
The dwelling will also need to be owned solely by the veteran or as an estate in the entirety and the veteran must occupy it as their main dwelling. There also must be a financial need. If a qualified veteran passes away, the tax exemption may pass to their unmarried surviving spouse if there is financial need.
Health Care Benefits For Veterans In Pennsylvania
Blind Veterans’ Pension and Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans’ Pension
These pensions provide $150 per month for those who have an honorable discharge from the military, were a resident of Pennsylvania when they joined the military, and who have suffered a service-related injury or incurred a disease which resulted in loss of vision, in the case of the Blind Veterans’ Pension or which resulted in the loss of use of two or more extremities in the case of the Amputee and Paralyzed Veterans’ Pension.
Veterans’ Temporary Assistance
This program provides temporary financial aid to veterans and their beneficiaries who live in Pennsylvania, for necessities such as food, shelter, fuel, clothing and medical expenses.
Veterans can qualify for an amount not to exceed, $1,600 in a twelve month period. To be eligible, besides being a resident of Pennsylvania, veterans must have an honorable discharge after a period of active duty, other than for training, have a service-connected disability, and a financial need.
If a veteran who qualifies has recently passed away, their unmarried spouse will be eligible.
Pennsylvania Veterans’ Homes
Pennsylvania has six extended care facilities for veterans and their spouses. They are:
- The Hollidaysburg Veterans’ Home in Hollidaysburg
- The Pennsylvania Soldiers And Sailors’ Home in Erie
- Southeastern Veterans’ Center in Spring City
- Gino J. Merli Veterans’ Center in Scranton
- The Southwestern Veterans’ Center in Pittsburgh
- The Delaware Valley Veterans’ Home in Philadelphia
In order to live in one of these veterans’ homes an honorably discharged Pennsylvanian will need to have served in the US Armed Forces or be a spouse of an eligible veteran.
Those from other states can also apply but will only be eligible if Pennsylvania was listed as their home of record when they entered the military.
Those who are not a resident of Pennsylvania at the time of admission will not be admitted if there is a resident waiting for admission.
Veterans do have priority of admission for all levels of care, and they do not have more than 12% non-veterans in each Veterans home.
Employment Benefits for Veterans in Pennsylvania
In order to qualify for veterans’ preference, an applicant must have served in the US Armed Forces during any war, or armed conflict, to include the national guard and reserves serving on active duty, other than for training, and were released from active duty under honorable conditions. Those who have served in the US Armed Forces since July 27, 1953 or otherwise completed certain military commitments prior to July 27, 1953, and completed basic training, as well as their initial military service obligation, and were released under honorable conditions, or those who are in the national guard or reserves, who have completed basic training, completed their initial military service obligation, and continue to serve, are also eligibe.
RELATED: Guide to Veterans’ Preference Points
The preferential ratings that are given under veterans’ preference will also be extended to include the spouses of deceased or disabled soldiers. Widows or widowers of veterans who have remarried as well as divorced spouses do not qualify.
Those who qualify will receive preference for employment consideration with 10 additional points added to their civil examination score. Applicants that are entitled to veterans’ preference who are among the top candidates have mandatory preference in appointment over non-veterans and applicants entitled to veterans’ preference on a civil service list may be appointed regardless of their rank on the list.
For non-civil service positions, qualifying veterans who apply will be interviewed if they meet the minimum experience and training requirements and if they possess the desired skills and experience. If the hiring manager determines that the veteran has the experience, training, education, skills, certifications, and other attributes that are required to perform successfully in the position, than the veteran candidate must be giving a conditional offer of employment.
If a veteran takes a civil service examination before being honorably discharged from military service, then they will not have 10 points added to their test score. Once they do complete their commitment, they will become immediately eligible for preference as a veteran. If they retest or take other examination successfully, they will receive both the 10 additional points and preference.
Military Retirement Pay
Pennsylvania does not tax military retirement pay.
Other Veterans Benefits In Pennsylvania
Military Family Relief Assistance Program (MFRAP)
The Pennsylvania Military Family Relief Assistance Program provides grants for financial assistance, to eligible Pennsylvania service members and their eligible family members. To be eligible, they must have a direct and immediate financial need as a result of circumstances that are beyond their control. The amount of the grant is based on their financial need up to $3,500. Some examples might be a sudden loss of income, emergency need for child care, or a natural disaster that causes them to need supplies, food, or shelter.
To be eligible for this program, a person would need to be a Pennsylvania resident, are serving on 30 or more consecutive days with the Pennsylvania Army or Air National Guard, the Reserve Component of the Armed Forces, on active duty, or on state active duty for emergencies.
You will need to be a member in good standing for a period of three years after completion of a qualifying tour of active duty of 30 or more consecutive days, when the financial need is directly related to the member’s active duty period.
You can also be a former member of the military for a period of four years after a medical discharge that was incurred in the line of duty, as long as you served for 30 or more consecutive days when the financial need is directly related to the former member’s service, to exigent circumstances beyond the eligible members control or the disability incurred in the line of duty of military service.
Those who are eligible relatives of qualified eligible service members can also qualify in limited circumstances.
Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Bonus
This bonus offers compensation for eligible service members, both current and former, as well as certain surviving relatives of deceased veterans, who served in Operation Desert Shield/Storm.
To be eligible, a person would have need to served with the US Armed Forces, a reserve component or the Pennsylvania National Guard, served on active duty in the Persian Gulf theater of operations during the period from August 2, 1990 to August 31st, 1991, and have received the Southwest Asia Service Medal.
You will also need to be a legal resident of Pennsylvania at the time of active duty service and have been discharged under honorable conditions if you are not currently active duty.
For more information regarding Pennsylvania veterans’ benefits, please visit – Pennsylvania Bureau of Veterans’ Affairs Benefits
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.