Georgia extends a range of exclusive benefits to Service members, Veterans, and their Families, encompassing property tax exemptions, priority in state employment, educational and tuition assistance, complimentary driver’s licenses, vehicle tags, nursing home care for war Veterans, and hunting and fishing license privileges. Eligibility for specific benefits may hinge on factors like residency, military affiliation, and the Veteran’s disability status. The following are benefits for the state of Georgia.
Georgia Veteran Financial Benefits
- Georgia State Income Tax Extension: The tax filing deadline for Service members deployed to a combat area is extended until 180 days after the deployment ends.
- Georgia Tax Exemption for Military Retired Pay: Retired U.S. Armed Forces Veterans are eligible for a tax exemption on military retired pay.
- Under 62 years of age, up to $17,500 is available for Veterans under 62 who have at least $17,500 of earned income
- Veterans age 62 to 64 up to $35,000
- Veterans over the age of 65 are up to $65,000
Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) does not withhold taxes for state or local income tax, but it is reported annually on IRS Form 1099-R. All TSP distributions are subject to state taxes, and early distributions may incur higher taxes.
- Georgia State Taxes on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Military Disability Retirement Pay: Military Disability Retirement Pay received as a pension, annuity, or similar allowance for personal injury or sickness resulting from active service in the U.S. Armed Forces should not be included in taxable income. Some payments considered disability benefits include:
- Disability compensation and pension payments for disabilities paid either to Veterans or their Family
- Grants for homes designed for wheelchair living
- Grants for motor vehicles for Veterans who lost their sight or the use of their limbs or
- Benefits under a dependent-care assistance program
- Georgia State Taxes on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Disability and Dependency Indemnity Compensation (DIC): DIC (Dependency and Indemnity Compensation) is a tax-free financial benefit provided to qualified survivors of military Service members who perished while on active duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose demise was attributed to a service-connected injury or illness.
- Military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/ Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)/ Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan (RSFPP) Georgia State Tax Benefits: SBP (Survivor Benefit Plan), RCSBP (Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan), and RSFPP (Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan) are considered taxable income. However, Georgia provides tax exclusions based on age and disability. Taxpayers aged 62 to 64 or those who are permanently and totally disabled under the age of 62 have the option to exclude up to $35,000 of their retirement income from their tax return. For taxpayers aged 65 or older, the exclusion limit increases to $65,000 for retirement income on their tax return.
- Georgia National Guard Income Tax Credit: Georgia offers a tax credit to resident National Guard Service members engaged in active duty or active duty for training with the U.S. Armed Forces for a continuous period exceeding 90 days. This tax credit covers the portion of the Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance premiums that the Service member pays while on active duty.
- Georgia Homestead Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans, Surviving Spouse, or Minor Children: Georgia provides a homestead property tax exemption for qualified disabled Veterans, their Surviving spouses, or minor Children. As of 2023, the exemption amount is set at $109,986. Any property value exceeding this exempted amount remains subject to taxation.
- Forgiveness of Georgia State Income Taxes for Service Members Killed as a Result of Combat: Service members who lose their lives due to wounds, disease, or injury incurred while serving in a combat zone as part of the U.S. Armed Forces are entirely exempt from Georgia income taxes for the tax year in which they passed away. Furthermore, there will be no taxation for any previous taxable year ending on or after the first day of their service in the combat zone.
- Georgia Sales Tax Exemption on Vehicles Purchased through U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Grant: A disabled Veteran granted funding by the VA for the purchase and modification of a specially adapted vehicle to meet their disability needs is eligible for an exemption from state sales tax, specifically for the original grant amount.
- Loss or permanent loss of use of one or both feet
- Loss or permanent loss of use of one or both hands
- Loss of sight in one or both eyes
- Permanent impairment of vision in both eyes to a prescribed degree
Georgia Ad Valorem Tax Exemption on Vehicles Owned by 100% Disabled Veterans: Disabled Veterans are eligible for an exemption from vehicle Ad Valorem taxes for one of their vehicles if it displays the free Georgia Disabled Veteran, Purple Heart, or Medal of Honor license plate. To qualify for this exemption, the VA must verify that the Veteran is either 100% totally and permanently service-connected disabled or they are currently receiving or are entitled to receive compensation from the VA for:
- Loss or permanent loss of use of one or both feet
- Loss or permanent loss of use of one or both hands
- Loss of sight in one or both eyes
- Permanent impairment of vision in both eyes to a prescribed degree
- Statewide: 4.0%
- Counties: can levy an additional sales tax of no more than 3.0%
- Current average sales tax (with local tax included): 7.40%
Georgia One-Time Honorary Veterans Hunting and Fishing License: A One-Time Veterans Hunting and Fishing License is free to Georgia resident Veterans. This free license is valid for one year from the date of issue.
- The One-Time Veterans License includes hunting, big game, Georgia Migratory Bird Stamp, salt and freshwater fishing, alligator hunting, and mountain trout licenses.
Georgia Military and Veteran Discounted Lifetime Sportsman’s License: Eligible Service members and Veterans are offered a reduced rate Lifetime Sportsman License. The Military and Veterans Lifetime Sportsman’s License fee is $603. Lifetime Licenses are full-privilege sportsman’s licenses, and include these licenses:
- Big game
- Wildlife Management Area (WMA)
- Quota Alligator Harvest Permit – if drawn for an alligator through the quota system
- Waterfowl and Migratory Bird Stamp
- Salt and Freshwater Fishing
- Mountain Trout
Georgia Annual and 3 Year Disability Hunting and Fishing License: Georgia offers discounted disability hunting and fishing licenses for disabled Georgia residents.
Georgia State Parks Discounted Fees for Veterans, Active Duty, and Retired Service Members: The Georgia Department of Natural Resources offers discounted fees for Veterans, active duty, and retired Service members.
Disabled Veteran Admission to Georgia State Parks: Resident disabled Veterans in Georgia qualify for a 25% discount on various amenities and services, including Annual Park Passes, Friends’ Memberships, individual accommodations, recreation fees (such as mini-golf and boat rental), golf fees, and historic site admission.
Active Duty and Retired Service Member Admission to Georgia State Parks: Georgia residents active duty and retired Service members can enjoy a 25% discount on the pricing of Daily or Annual Park Passes. These discounted Park Passes are available for purchase at park kiosks or within park offices, and individuals must present a valid military ID to claim this discount.
Georgia HERO (Helping Educate Reservists and their Offspring) Scholarship: The Georgia HERO Scholarship program provides educational scholarships to members of the Georgia National Guard and U.S. Armed Forces Reserves who served in combat zones, as well as the Children and the Spouses of eligible Service members.
- The scholarship is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis
- Eligible recipients may receive up to $2,000 per academic school year. Award amounts are prorated for school terms when recipients are enrolled for less than full-time (12 hours)
- Students who meet the eligibility requirements of Categories 1, 3, or 4 may receive up to $8,000 for the equivalent of four academic years
- Students who meet the eligibility requirements in Category 2 may receive up to $2,000 per academic year for each qualifying term of service of at least 181 cumulative days, or for a qualifying term of service of less than 181 cumulative days if the parent was evacuated because of severe injuries
- Students in Category 2 gain eligibility for $2,000 per qualifying term of service, for a maximum of four qualifying terms of service, not to exceed a total of $8,000 for the equivalent of four academic years.
Georgia High School Diplomas for War-Time Veterans: Veterans who left high school to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II, Korea, or Vietnam and didn’t receive a high school diploma are eligible to obtain one. To apply for this diploma, they should contact the board of education in the school district where they were enrolled in high school.
University System of Georgia Resident Tuition Rates for Nonresident Service Members, Separated Service Members, and their Dependents: The University System of Georgia will charge resident tuition rates for eligible nonresident Service members, separated Service members, their spouses, and dependent children.
University System of Georgia, Resident Waiver of Mandatory Fees for U.S. Armed Forces Reserve and Georgia National Guard Combat Veterans: Combat Veterans who are enrolled at a University System of Georgia institution can be granted an exemption from all obligatory fees. It’s important to note that this exemption excludes charges related to housing, optional food service, any elective fees, special fees, and other user fees and costs (for instance, application fees).
University System of Georgia Military Service Refunds: The University System of Georgia offers full refunds of tuition, mandatory fees, and prorated refunds of elective fees for students who are:
- Reserve component Service members who receive orders for active duty, temporary duty reassignment, or mandatory training that hinders the completion of their term.
- Active duty Service members who experience reassignment, temporary duty, or training that prevents them from finishing their term.
- Students who are substantially impacted by the activation of a reserve component Service member or the deployment of an active duty Service member can demonstrate the necessity for a refund.
Georgia Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (MIC3): The purpose of this compact is to remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families due to frequent moves and deployment of their parents by:
- Facilitating the prompt enrollment of children of military families and ensuring that they are not placed at a disadvantage due to difficulty in the transfer of educational records from the previous school district or variations in entrance or age requirements
- Facilitating the student placement process through which children of military families are not disadvantaged by variations in attendance requirements, scheduling, sequencing, grading, course content, or assessment
- Facilitating the qualification and eligibility for enrollment, educational programs, and participation in extracurricular academic, athletic, and social activities
- Facilitating the on-time graduation of children of military families
- Providing for the enforcement of administrative rules implementing the provisions of this compact
- Providing for the uniform collection and sharing of information between and among member states, schools, and military families under this compact
- Promoting coordination between this compact and other compacts affecting military children
- Promoting flexibility and cooperation between the educational system, parents, and the student to achieve educational success for the student
Georgia Military Flagship School Award: The Georgia Military Flagship School Award is presented to schools that demonstrate a significant dedication to students and families with ties to the U.S. Armed Forces. These Military Flagship Schools engage in targeted outreach to military families and make efforts to acknowledge and meet their distinctive requirements. The selection of these schools occurs through an annual application process, which is accessible to all schools within the state.
Housing: The following are the sites for Veterans Homes
Eligibility for admission:
- Veterans must be honorably discharged
- Veterans must be residents of Georgia
- Must have served during wartime
Employment and Job Training: Veterans Preference
Georgia State Employee Paid Leave for Military Service: State employees receive 18 days of paid leave per federal fiscal year when ordered to military duty and while going to and returning from their place of duty.
Georgia State Employment Veterans Hiring Preference: Georgia offers Veterans employment preference for Veterans and their Spouse when hiring for state jobs. Preference is given by adding points to passing pre-employment examination scores.
- Five points are added to a Veteran’s score
- 10 points are added to a Veteran’s Surviving Spouse’s score
- 10 points are added to the score of a Veteran with a 10% or more disability rating from the VA
- 10 points are added to the score of a Spouse of a disabled Veteran with a 100% service-connected disability rating from the VA
Georgia Veterans Education Career Transition Resource Center (VECTR): The VECTR Center is dedicated to supporting Veterans and their Families by providing a variety of services, such as career counseling, educational coaching, workforce training, and more. It serves as a convenient one-stop destination for Veterans seeking information on benefits, educational options, employment assistance, and connections to local community resources. They provide accelerated programs in high demand and strategic industries tailored to shorten the process of receiving post-secondary certificates and degrees by recognizing the training Veterans receive during their military service.
Georgia Disabled Veteran Business Certificate of Exemption: Disabled Veterans are eligible for a 10-year exemption from paying local government-imposed occupational taxes, administration fees, and regulatory fees related to peddling, operating a business, or practicing a profession or semi-profession.
Federal Employment Veteran’s Hiring Preferences: Federal law mandates that Veterans, especially those with disabilities or those who served during specific time periods or in military campaigns, are granted preference over non-veterans when it comes to Federal civil service hiring and retention during workforce reductions. In various scoring processes for examinations and interviews, Veterans may be eligible for an additional 5 or 10 points.
5-point Hiring Preference: Five points are added to the examination score or rating of a Veteran who served:
- During a war, or
- During the period April 28, 1952, through July 1, 1955, or
- For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred after January 31, 1955, and before October 15, 1976, or
- During the Gulf War from August 2, 1990, through January 2, 1992, or
- For more than 180 consecutive days, other than for training, any part of which occurred during the period beginning September 11, 2001, and ending on August 31, 2010, the last day of Operation Iraqi Freedom, or
- In a campaign or expedition for which a campaign medal has been authorized. Any Armed Forces Expeditionary medal or campaign badge, including El Salvador, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Southwest Asia, Somalia, and Haiti, qualifies for preference
10-point Compensable Disability (CP) Preference: Ten points are added to the examination score or rating of a Veteran who served at any time and who has a compensable service-connected disability rating of at least 10% but less than 30%.
10-Point 30% Compensable Disability Preference (CPS): Ten points are added to the passing examination score or rating of a Veteran who served at any time and who has a compensable service-connected disability rating of 30% or more.
10-Point Disability Preference (XP): Ten points are added to the passing examination score or rating of:
- A veteran who served at any time and has a present service-connected disability or is receiving compensation, disability retirement benefits, or pension from the military or the VA but does not qualify as a CP or CPS, or
- Veteran who received a Purple Heart
10-Point Derived Preference (XP): Ten points are added to the passing examination score or rating of Spouses, Surviving Spouses, or mothers of Veterans. Both a mother and a Spouse (including a Surviving Spouse) may be entitled to preference based on the same Veteran’s service if they both meet the requirements. However, neither may receive preference if the Veteran is living and is qualified for Federal employment.
Ten points are added to the passing examination score or rating of the Spouse of a disabled Veteran who is disqualified for a federal position along the general lines of their usual occupation because of a service-connected disability. Such a disqualification may be presumed when the Veteran is unemployed and:
- Is rated by appropriate military or VA authorities to be 100% disabled and/or unemployable, or
- Has retired, been separated, or resigned from a civil service position because of a disability that is service-connected in origin, or
- Has attempted to obtain a civil service position or other position along the lines of their usual occupation and has failed to qualify because of a service-connected disability
Preference may be allowed in other circumstances but anything less than the above warrants a more careful analysis.
A campaign medal holder or Gulf War Veteran who originally enlisted after September 7, 1980, (or began active duty on or after October 14, 1982, and has not previously completed 24 months of continuous active duty) must have served continuously for 24 months or the full period called or ordered to active duty. The 24-month service requirement does not apply to 10-point preference eligible Veterans separated for disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or to Veterans separated for hardship or other reasons under Title 10 U.S.C. 1171 or 1173.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA): USERRA protects civilian job rights and benefits for Veterans and members of reserve components. USERRA also protects Service member rights and benefits by clarifying the law, improving enforcement mechanisms, and adding Federal Government employees to those employees already eligible to receive Department of Labor assistance in processing claims.
Absence from Work for Military Duty: USERRA establishes the cumulative length of time that an individual may be absent from work for military duty and retain reemployment rights for five years. Exceptions to the five-year limit, include initial enlistments lasting more than five years, periodic National Guard and U.S. Armed Forces Reserve training duty, and involuntary active duty extensions and recalls, especially during a time of national emergency. USERRA establishes that reemployment protection does not depend on the timing, frequency, duration, or nature of an individual’s service if the basic eligibility criteria are met.
Disability Accommodation: USERRA provides protection for disabled Veterans, requiring employers to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the disability. Service members recovering from injuries received during service or training may have up to two years from the date of completion of service to return to their jobs or apply for reemployment.
Return to Work without Loss of Seniority: USERRA provides that returning Service members are reemployed in the job that they would have attained had they not been absent for military service, with the same seniority, status, and pay, as well as other rights and benefits determined by seniority. USERRA also requires that reasonable efforts (such as training or retraining) be made to enable returning Service members to refresh or upgrade their skills to help them qualify for reemployment. USERRA also provides that while an individual is performing military service, they are deemed to be on a furlough or leave of absence and are entitled to the non-seniority rights accorded to other individuals on non-military leaves of absence.
Extension of Health and Pension Plans: Health and pension plan coverage for Service members is provided for by USERRA. Individuals performing military duty of more than 30 days may elect to continue employer-sponsored health care for up to 24 months; however, they may be required to pay up to 102% of the full premium. For military service of less than 31 days, health care coverage is provided as if the Service member had remained employed. USERRA clarifies pension plan coverage by making explicit that all pension plans are protected.
Who is eligible for USERRA Benefits? Veterans, U.S. Armed Forces Reserve or National Guard Service members who leave a position for training or active military service are eligible.
The Department of Labor, through the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS), helps all who have claims under USERRA, including Federal and Postal Service employees.
Burials and Memorials
The National Cemetery Administration (NCA) pays tribute to eligible Veterans and their family members by providing a final resting place and a lasting memorial to commemorate the Veteran’s dedicated service to the nation.
The burial benefits encompass a gravesite in any of our open cemeteries with available space, the opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government-furnished headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, all at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also meet the criteria for a burial allowance. Cremated remains are interred or inurned in national cemeteries with the same honors and respect as casketed remains.
Burial benefits extend to eligible spouses and dependents, including burial alongside the Veteran and perpetual care of the interment site. The name and relevant dates of birth and death of the spouse or dependent are inscribed on the Veteran’s headstone at no expense to the family. Importantly, spouses and qualified dependents are eligible for burial even if they pass away before the Veteran and are not required to be interred in the same national cemetery as the Veteran.
National Cemeteries include:
Canton: Georgia National Cemetery
Marietta: Marietta National Cemetery
Georgia VA Benefit Resources
Georgia provides Veterans with a District Benefits Office and a Regional Benefits Office, along with VA Medical Centers.
Georgia VA District Benefits Office
- Decatur: Southeast District
Georgia VA Regional Benefits Office
- Decatur: Atlanta Regional Office
Georgia VA Medical Centers
- Augusta: Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center
- Decatur: Atlanta VA Health Care System
- Dublin: Carl Vinson VA Medical Center
Important information for Georgia Veteran Benefits:
For Veterans applying for VA benefits for the first time, you must submit a copy of your DD 214 (discharge paperwork). This will provide your discharge status, along with your full name, social security number, branch of service, and dates for which you served. Honorable and general discharges qualify a Veteran for most VA benefits.
You should always keep your paperwork, along with your medical records, in a safe place where you and your family can have access to them. It is imperative to have it in a location where it cannot be destroyed or tampered with, which includes a safe.
Your eligibility for most VA benefits is based upon discharge from active military service under other than dishonorable conditions.
Active service means full-time service as a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard, or as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service, the Environmental Services Administration, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Any Veteran discharged from the military under the conditions of “Dishonorable” due to bad conduct discharges issued by general courts-martial may bar VA benefits. Veterans in prison and parolees may be eligible for certain VA benefits. VA regional offices can clarify the eligibility of prisoners, parolees, and individuals with multiple discharges issued under differing conditions.
*This information is accurate as of October 2023
Georgia Veteran Benefits
If you are a disabled Veteran in Georgia and are VA rated 90% or less, you may be eligible for additional benefits. Contact Veterans Guardian for a free consultation with no obligation. Let us review your claim to determine whether you qualify for additional benefits.