South Dakota offers unique benefits for Service members, Veterans, and their families, including a property tax exemption for Veterans and their Surviving spouses, compensation for state active duty, education assistance, license plates, hunting and fishing benefits, and free or reduced fees at South Dakota State Parks. Eligibility for some benefits may depend on residency, military component, and Veteran disability status. The following are benefits for the state of South Dakota.
South Dakota Veteran Financial Benefits
- South Dakota Income Taxes: There are no individual income taxes in South Dakota. Distributions received from the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) are not taxed.
- South Dakota Property Tax Exemption for Paraplegic Veterans and Their Surviving Spouse: South Dakota offers a full property tax exemption to eligible paraplegic Veterans and their survivors. This exemption applies to the house, garage, and the lot up to one acre.
- South Dakota Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans: South Dakota offers a partial property tax exemption of up to $150,000 for disabled Veterans and their Surviving spouses. This exemption applies to the house, garage, and the lot up to one acre.
- Statewide: 4.5%
- Municipalities: can levy a sales tax of no more than 6.40%
- Current average sales tax: 5.57% (seniors and disabled individuals may be eligible for a sales tax refund).
Reduced Fee South Dakota Hunting and Fishing License for Disabled Veterans and Former Prisoners of War (POWs): South Dakota offers resident disabled Veterans and former POWs a four-year hunting and fishing license for $10.
South Dakota Special Provisions for Handicapped Hunters: South Dakota has special provisions for resident disabled hunters. Hunters who have lost an upper limb, or the use of an upper limb, or must use a wheelchair may use a crossbow or draw-lock to hunt.
Legally blind or quadriplegic residents are authorized to have an assistant while hunting.
South Dakota General Hunting and Fishing Licenses are not required for Active Duty Service Members Stationed outside South Dakota: South Dakota resident Service members stationed outside South Dakota are not required to have a license to fish or hunt small game while home on leave. The federal migratory bird stamp and the migratory bird certification permits are still required.
Service members must have current orders assigning them outside South Dakota and their military ID with them when hunting or fishing.
South Dakota Hunting and Fishing License for Resident Prices for Nonresident Service Members and Veterans: South Dakota offers resident hunting and fishing licenses for resident prices to Service members and their spouses stationed in South Dakota.
South Dakota also offers resident prices to Veterans who are patients at a Veterans hospital in South Dakota.
South Dakota Big Game Hunting License for Resident Service Members and their Families: Resident Service members and their dependents stationed out of state during the application period and lottery drawings are eligible for deer, turkey, and antelope licenses. Applicants must meet all other hunting licensing requirements to be eligible.
South Dakota Free Lifetime State Park Entrance License for Disabled Veterans and Former Prisoners of War (POWs): South Dakota offers a free lifetime State Park Entrance License to eligible resident disabled Veterans and former POWs. This license authorizes free entrance for the Veteran and their vehicle to all state parks.
This license also provides a 50% discount on camping and electrical fees for their site or cabin. The discount does not apply to other facilities or fees.
- Free Tuition at South Dakota State-Supported Schools for Veterans: South Dakota offers free tuition at state-supported schools for Veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces during wartime (see bottom of application below for qualifying wartime dates). Veterans must use all VA educational benefits before they are eligible.
Veterans will receive one month’s free tuition towards an undergraduate degree for each month served during a qualifying wartime period. Veterans will receive at least one academic year with a maximum of four academic years of free tuition.
- Free Tuition at South Dakota State-Supported Schools for Children of Service Members Who Died During Military Service: The child of a Service member who died while serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces may be eligible for free tuition at a state-supported school or any postsecondary technical institute.
- Free Tuition at South Dakota State Supported Schools for Dependents of Service Members Declared a Prisoner of War (POW) or Missing in Action (MIA): The spouse or child of a Veteran who is declared a POW or MIA may be eligible for free tuition and no mandatory fees at a state-supported school or any postsecondary technical institute. Eligible dependents must use all federal assistance before receiving state financial assistance.
- Free Tuition at South Dakota State Supported Schools for Children or Spouse of South Dakota National Guard Service Members who became Disabled or Died in the Line of Duty: The spouse or child of a South Dakota National Guard Service member who died or became permanently disabled in the line of duty are eligible for free tuition and no mandatory fees at a state-supported school or postsecondary technical institute.
- Reduced Tuition for South Dakota National Guard Members: South Dakota National Guard Service members are eligible for a 50% reduction in undergraduate tuition at any state-supported school for up to 128 credits for undergraduate programs and 32 credits for graduate programs. Service members also have the option to use this benefit at state-supported vocational schools.
Nonresident Service members serving in the South Dakota National Guard are considered residents for tuition purposes. The receipt of federal education benefits does not affect eligibility for this program.
- South Dakota Resident Status for Tuition Purposes for Veterans, Service Members, and Their Dependents: Nonresident Veterans, Service members, and their dependents are considered residents for tuition purposes.
- Honorary South Dakota High School Diplomas for Wartime Veterans: South Dakota offers honorary high school diplomas to wartime Veterans who left high school before graduation to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Who is eligible for Honorary South Dakota High School Diplomas for Wartime Veterans? Veterans must have received an honorable discharge and served during one of the following wartime periods to be eligible:
- December 7, 1941, through September 2, 1945
- June 25, 1950, through July 31, 1953
- February 28, 1961, through May 7, 1975
Veterans should contact the school district they wish to award the diploma to apply.
- South Dakota Veterans Upward Bound Program (VUB): VUB helps veterans improve their education skills and prepare them for college, university, or technical school.
VUB provides the following programs and assistance:
- Academic refresher classes
- Tutoring (individual and group)
- Study skills
- College curriculum information
- Preparation for college, university, or technical school entrance
- GED preparation assistance
In addition, VUB offers career services such as:
- Career interest inventories
- Follow-up information on specific job outlooks
- Help to find training opportunities
- Career exploration
- Help define choices and planning
- Education funding information
- Financial aid application assistance
All supplies, instructional materials, career, financial aid, and academic services are free.
- South Dakota 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 variations in attendance requirements, scheduling, sequencing, grading, course content, or assessment do not disadvantage children of military families. 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
- South Dakota Purple Star School Designation for Military-Friendly Schools: Recent legislation authorized the South Dakota Purple Star School Designation for military-friendly schools. The Purple Star School program recognizes schools with a major commitment to students and families connected to the U.S. Armed Forces.
For a school to qualify for the Purple Star Award, it must appoint a school liaison 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
South Dakota State Veterans Home: The Michael J. Fitzmaurice, South Dakota Veterans Home, located in Hot Springs, is a 100-bed facility that serves South Dakota Veterans and their spouses. The home has 76 skilled nursing beds and 24 non-skilled beds.
There are eight wings with eight neighborhoods with a living room, dining room, and kitchen area to provide a home-like environment.
South Dakota Veterans Home Amenities:
- Complete medical services
- Pharmacy services
- Physical and occupational therapies
- 24-hour nursing care
- Recreation programs
- Social services
- Religious and spiritual services
- Transportation services
- South Dakota Veterans Service Officer located at the Veterans home
Who is eligible for care at the South Dakota State Veterans Home? Admission to the Michael J. Fitzmaurice Veterans Home is open to South Dakota resident Veterans, their spouse, or Surviving spouses.
Veterans must have received an honorable discharge and be a resident of South Dakota at any time in the five years before the date of the application. Veterans must not have income more than $1,000 above the VA Pension rate for Veterans.
Spouse: The spouse of a Veteran eligible for admission may be admitted with the Veteran if they have been married and living together for at least one year before application. Spouses may also be admitted if the Veteran is eligible for admission at the Michael J. Fitzmaurice Veterans Home but lives in a different healthcare facility.
Surviving Spouse: The un-remarried Surviving spouse of a Veteran who is at least 60 years old and was married to the Veteran for at least one year before their death.
Spouses and Surviving spouses will only be admitted if the home’s resident population of non-veterans does not exceed 25% of the total population.
Employment and Job Training: Veteran Preference
- Military Training Leave for South Dakota State Employees: State employees who are members of a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces receive 15 days of military leave per calendar year for Training.
Employees may use up to 40 hours of accumulated sick leave when called to state active duty.
Who is eligible for Military Training Leave for South Dakota State Employees? National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service permanent state employee members are eligible.
- Credited Military Service for South Dakota Retirement System (SDRS): Members of SDRS who are reserve component Service members and are called to federal active duty service do not lose credit for retirement. Employees will continue to earn credited service if they meet the following requirements:
- Employed before going on military leave
- Return to public service within one year of discharge
- Must remain employed for at least one year after their return
Who is eligible for Credited Military Service for SDRS? State employees who are National Guard or U.S. Armed Forces Reserve Service members who take an authorized leave of absence when called to federal active duty are eligible for credited service.
- South Dakota State Employment Wage Compensation Adjustment during Active Duty Service: State employees who are members of a reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces and are ordered to state or federal active duty (not active duty for Training) will receive the difference between their state salary and their military salary for the duration of their active duty service. The difference is paid every quarter.
- South Dakota State Employment Veterans’ Hiring Preference: South Dakota offers Veterans’ preference when hiring for state or local government jobs. Those eligible receive preference for appointment, employment, and promotion at all levels of government, including state, county, and city. In all cases, applicants must have the necessary skills and qualifications for the job they are applying for.
At the state level, eligible applicants are automatically added to the interview list after determining the top qualified persons.
Preference is given in the following order:
- Disabled Veteran
- Spouse of a Disabled Veteran
- Un-remarried Surviving spouse
Who is eligible for South Dakota State Employment Veterans’ Hiring Preference? To be eligible, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- U.S. Citizen
- Resident of South Dakota
- A veteran who served full contract obligation in an active or reserve component of the U.S. Armed Force and received an honorable discharge
- Spouse of a disabled Veteran who cannot work due to their disability
- Un-remarried Surviving spouse of a Service member who died while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces
- Un-remarried Surviving spouse of a Veteran who died due to a service-connected illness or injury
- 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 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:
Harwood: Fargo National Cemetery
South Dakota VA Benefit Resources
South Dakota provides Veterans with a Regional Benefits Office and a VA Medical Center.
South Dakota VA Regional Benefits Office
- Fargo: Fargo Regional Office
South Dakota VA Medical Centers
- Fargo: Fargo VA Health Care System
Important information for South Dakota 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, 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 and medical records in a safe place where you and your family can access 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 conditions other than dishonorable. 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 November 2023
South Dakota Veteran Benefits
If you are a disabled Veteran in North Dakota 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.