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Veteran Benefits for Kentucky

Veteran Benefits for Kentucky

The state of Kentucky provides a range of special benefits for Service members, Veterans, and their families. These benefits include state tax exemptions, state employment preference, education and tuition assistance, vehicle tags, as well as hunting and fishing license privileges. However, eligibility for some of these benefits may depend on factors such as residency, military component, and Veteran disability status. The following are benefits for the state of Kentucky.

Kentucky Veteran Financial Benefits

  • Kentucky Income Tax Exemption for Military Pay: All military pay received for service in the U.S. Armed Forces is exempt from Kentucky income tax.
  • Kentucky Military Retired Pay Income Taxes:  Military retirees who retired before January 1, 1998, enjoy full exemption from Kentucky income taxes on their military retired pay. Those who retired from the U.S. Armed Forces after December 31, 1997, can exclude up to $31,110 of their military retired pay from Kentucky income taxes.

    For retired Service members who possess creditable service before January 1, 1998, but retired after December 31, 1997, the potential exclusion may surpass the $31,110 limit. To calculate the additional percentage of their military retired pay eligible for exclusion due to service prior to January 1, 1998, retired Service members must complete Schedule P of the Kentucky Pension Income Exclusion.

    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.

  • Kentucky State Taxes on 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 of the payments that are considered disability benefits include:
    • Disability compensation and pension payments for disabilities paid to Veterans or their Families
    • Grants for homes designed for wheelchair living
    • Grants for motor vehicles for Veterans who lost their sight or the use of limbs or
    • Benefits under a dependent-care assistance program
  • Kentucky State Taxes on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Disability Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC):  DIC is a tax-exempt financial benefit provided to qualified survivors of military Service members who lost their lives while on active duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death was a result of a service-connected injury or illness.
  • Military Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)/ Reserve Component Survivor Benefit Plan (RCSBP)/ Retired Serviceman’s Family Protection Plan (RSFPP) Kentucky State Tax Benefits:  Kentucky allows a pension income exclusion of up to $31,110 for survivor benefit annuities.
  • Kentucky Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans:  Kentucky residents who are 65 years of age or older or those who are considered totally disabled can avail of a homestead exemption from Kentucky property taxes. For the 2023-2024 assessment years, this exemption stands at $46,350. It is subtracted from the assessed value of the homeowner’s property, and property taxes are then calculated based on the reduced assessment. The homestead exemption amount is revised every two years to account for inflation.
  • Kentucky Military Spouses Residency Relief Act (MSRRA) Benefits: Under Kentucky MSRRA a nonresident Service member’s Spouse may be exempt from paying Kentucky taxes on wages earned while stationed in Kentucky.
  • Extension for Filing Kentucky Income Tax Return for Service Members Serving in Combat Zones:  Service members currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, when deployed to a designated combat zone, are not obliged to file income tax returns or make tax payments until 12 months after their return from deployment.


  • Statewide: 6.0%
  • Counties: cannot levy an additional sales tax
  • Current average sales tax (with local taxes included): 6.0%


  • Kentucky Sportsman’s License for Disabled Veterans:  Kentucky resident Veterans with a service-connected disability rating of 50% or higher from the VA qualify for a three-year Disabled Sportsman’s License. This $12 license encompasses Combination Hunting and Fishing Licenses, all Deer Permits, a Spring Turkey Permit, a Resident Fall Turkey Permit, a Kentucky Migratory Bird/Waterfowl Permit, and a Trout Permit.

    To be eligible, Veterans must furnish a VA-issued letter confirming their 50% or greater service-connected disability rating, which includes their current address and Social Security Number.

  • Kentucky Resident Service Members Exempt from Having Hunting or Fishing Licenses While on Leave:  Kentucky resident Service members who are in Kentucky on leave for three or more days are not required to have a hunting or fishing license. Service members must have their military ID and leave paperwork with them when hunting or fishing.
  • Kentucky State Park Benefits for Veterans, Active Duty Service Members, and Former Prisoners of War (POWs): Kentucky State Parks offer several benefits for Service members and Veterans.

    Military Discount:Kentucky State Parks extends a discount to active and retired Service members. To secure these savings, enter the discount code “USA” when making online reservations between November and March, and you’ll access special rates for lodge rooms and cottages. For April through October, simply choose “Military Discount” from the drop-down menu under Special Rates to enjoy a 15% discount on lodging. Additionally, active and retired Service members can get a 10% discount by selecting the “Military” customer type when booking online. Proof of service in the U.S. Armed Forces will be requested during check-in.

    Free Accommodations for Disabled Veterans: Kentucky resident Veterans, National Guard members, and U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service members with a 100% service-connected disability qualify for complimentary accommodations at Kentucky State Parks.

    Eligible individuals can enjoy up to three overnight stays per calendar year, with a maximum of three nights per visit. Reservations made from Memorial Day through Labor Day and during October must fall within a 5-day window, from Sunday through Thursday. For stays outside of this period, availability permitting, accommodations can be booked for any day of the week. The free lodging (whether it’s a room, cottage, or campsite) applies solely to the Veteran’s own occupancy, and proof of disability is required at the time of check-in.

    Free Camping for Former POWs: Kentucky resident former POWs are eligible for free camping at all Kentucky State Parks. Veterans must show their VA POW ID card at check-in.

Education Programs

  • Kentucky Dependent Tuition Waiver:  Kentucky provides a tuition waiver for the Spouses and Children of specific Veterans. This waiver covers tuition fees at any two-year, four-year, or vocational-technical school affiliated with the Kentucky Department of Education. However, private or out-of-state schools are not eligible for this Tuition Waiver.
    • Who is eligible for the Kentucky Veteran and Dependent Tuition Waiver? For a Veteran’s dependent to be eligible the Veteran must be a current Kentucky resident or was a resident at the time of death dependents of Veterans are not required to be Kentucky residents. The Spouse, un-remarried Surviving Spouse, Children, stepchildren, and adopted Children are eligible if the Veteran meets the following requirements:
      • Died while serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces
      • Died as a direct result of a service-connected disability as determined by the VA
      • 100% service-connected disabled
      • Totally disabled (non-service-connected) with wartime service
      • Deceased and lived in Kentucky at the time of death and served during a wartime period

      Dependent Children are eligible until their 26th birthday there is no age limit for Surviving Spouses. In addition, the Child of a Veteran who has a service-connected disability is also eligible. Submission instructions and required documentation are listed on the application.

  • Kentucky National Guard Tuition Award Program:  Service members serving in the Kentucky National Guard can receive a tuition award that will pay in-state tuition for full or part-time study at Kentucky public and private educational institutions. Service members may use state tuition assistance until they earn their first bachelor’s degree.
  • Kentucky High School Diploma Program for Veterans of World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War: Kentucky school districts will issue high school diplomas to Veterans who left high school before graduating to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II (WWII), the Korean War, or the Vietnam War.

    Who is eligible for a Kentucky High School Diploma Program for Veterans of WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War? Honorably discharged resident Veterans who left high school prior to graduation during the following dates are eligible:

    • WWII -December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946
    • Korean War – June 25, 1950, through January 27, 1955
    • Vietnam War – August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975 (If serving in Vietnam prior to August 5, 1964, the period begins February 28, 1961)
  • Kentucky 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 because of 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 in order to achieve educational success for the student
  • Kentucky Purple Star Award for Military-Friendly Schools: The Kentucky Purple Star Award for military-friendly schools recognizes schools that show a major commitment to students and Families connected to the U.S. Armed Forces.
    • For a school to qualify for the Purple Star Award, they must appoint a school liaison who is specially trained to handle the unique challenges experienced by military Families. This liaison will ensure that other teachers at their school are aware of special considerations that students from military Families can benefit from. Each school will also have a dedicated page on their school website featuring resources for military Families.

Housing: The following are the sites for Veterans Homes

Kentucky Veterans Centers: Kentucky has four long-term nursing facilities to care for Kentucky Veterans. Each home has compassionate and professional staff who are committed to providing thoughtful, quality care.

Some of the services offered at Kentucky Veterans Centers are:

  • 24/7 skilled nursing care
  • Rehabilitation services (physical, occupational, and speech therapies)
  • Secured areas for residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Therapeutic Recreational Activities
  • Transportation to VA for medical services
  • Nurse Practitioner at most locations

Veterans who have a 70% or higher disability rating receive a full per diem from the VA with no out-of-pocket costs.

Kentucky State Veterans Home at Hazard

Kentucky State Veterans Home at Radcliff

Kentucky State Veterans Home at Wilmore

Kentucky State Veterans Home at Hanson

Veterans must meet the following requirements to be eligible for admission:

  • Veteran who received a discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces under conditions other than dishonorable
  • Kentucky resident at the time of application
  • Disabled due to disease, wounds, age, or otherwise needs nursing care
  • Veteran’s medical needs must be able to be met by the Veterans Center

Employment and Job Training: Veterans Preference

  • Leave of Absence for National Guard Service Members for Active Duty or Training:  National Guard Service members who are also employees are entitled to a leave of absence from their employer to fulfill mandatory training or active duty service.

    Upon the employee’s release from active duty or training, they must be reinstated to their previous position with the same seniority, status, pay, and all other rights or benefits they were entitled to. It’s important to note that employers are not obligated to provide a paid leave of absence.

  • Paid Days Off for Kentucky State Employees who are Military Spouses:  Kentucky state employees who are married to a Service member serving in the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible for one paid day off when the Service member deploys and one paid day off upon the Service member’s return from deployment. This benefit applies to Service members in either an active or reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces, with the requirement that the deployment must be for federal active duty.
  • Kentucky Retirement Credit Computed for Military Service: Former Service members and reserve component Service members who are state or local government employees and participate in a Kentucky retirement pension program can purchase service credit for the time they served in the U.S. Armed Forces. For most state or local government employees buying military service credit will increase their pension.

    Certain current state or local government employees who are reserve component Service members and take a leave of absence when they are called to federal active duty during a national emergency are eligible for free service credit for their time serving on active duty.

    National Guard and U.S. Armed Forces Service members can purchase reserve component service credit at a rate of one month of service credit for every six months served. The cost to purchase service credit is based on: Current Rate of Pay / Final Rate of Pay / Final Compensation x Actuarial Factor* x Years Purchased.  

    * Actuarial Factor is an individualized multiplier based upon a member’s age, years of accrued service credit, applicable benefit factor, and eligibility for final compensation.

  • Kentucky State Employment Veterans’ Preference:  Kentucky provides Veterans’ Preference by giving preference in interviews to Veterans and their eligible Family members who are applying for competitive classified positions in state and local government. To qualify for interview preference, applicants must meet the minimum job requirements and submit the necessary documentation before the job vacancy’s closing date. It’s important to note that interview preference is only applicable to candidates seeking their initial appointment.
    • Veterans are not required to have served during a time of war or conflict to be eligible. U.S. Armed Forces Reserve and National Guard Service members are not required to have been called to active duty or mobilized to qualify for preference.
  • Rehiring of Kentucky Public Employees to a Position after Military Service:  Kentucky’s public employees who leave their positions voluntarily or involuntarily to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces and receive an honorable discharge are entitled to be rehired to their previous position or a role with equal seniority, status, pay, and all other associated rights and benefits.

    Service members have a period of six months to return to their civilian jobs after their discharge from the U.S. Armed Forces during times of war or national or state emergencies. In peacetime or following hospitalization or post-discharge treatment, Service members have 90 days to return to their civilian jobs.

  • 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

Please note that your preference regarding burial in a national cemetery and use of a headstone provided by VA should be documented and kept with your paperwork and medical records. The cemeteries will provide a grave or columbarium space, opening and closing the grave, perpetual care of the grave site, marker or headstone and an optional concrete grave liner for casketed burials. Burial of Veterans is provided free of charge, non-Veteran burials are charged a $500 fee.

 The following are the general eligibility requirements:

  • Discharged from active duty service in the U.S. Armed Forces under conditions other than dishonorable, or
  • Died while serving on active duty, or
  • Served at least 20 years in the National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces Reserves and is eligible for military retired pay (or would have been eligible except their death occurred before age 60), or
  • Reserve component Service members if they were activated for federal service, (active duty for training does not qualify)
  • Spouses and Children (burial of dependent children is limited to unmarried Children under 21 years old, or 23 years old if a full-time student at an approved educational institution, or a Child who develops a lifelong disability prior to age 21)
  • Kentucky resident:
    • Born in Kentucky
    • Served at a military installation in Kentucky
    • Lived in Kentucky
    • The home of record is Kentucky

National Cemeteries include:

Danville: Danville National Cemetery

Lebanon: Lebanon National Cemetery

Lexington: Lexington National Cemetery

Louisville: Cave Hill National Cemetery

Louisville: Zachary Taylor National Cemetery

Nancy: Mill Springs National Cemetery

Nicholasville: Camp Nelson National Cemetery

Southgate: Evergreen Cemetery Soldiers’ Lot

Kentucky VA Benefit Resources

Kentucky provides Veterans with a Regional Benefits Office and VA Medical Centers.

Kentucky VA Regional Benefits Office

Kentucky VA Medical Centers

Important information for Kentucky 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, 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 November 2023

Kentucky Veteran Benefits

If you are a disabled Veteran in Kentucky 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.