…benefits specifically for…
Listed here is information for our recently joined
members (and to remind our long-time members) about some of the more
valuable veterans’ benefits, or ones most often asked about, for Purple
Heart veterans in Texas; and to inform the membership of new or recently
changed benefits for veterans, the provisions of which may not yet be well
publicized or generally understood. Most benefits listed here are
administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Texas Department
of Transportation. The VA and TxDOT implementing regulations necessarily
govern at all times. Those may contain many pages of legal wording and may
change without notice in response to court rulings and legal interpretation
as well as new legislation. Our summarizations here will be kept as
up-to-date as we can make it, but these cannot be considered complete and
definitive. For that, you must consult with a Veterans Service Officer, and
it is suggested that you start with your County
Service Officer, or the
Texas Veterans Commission, or the
Board to learn about them.
VA MEDICAL CARE.
If you have not already done so, you can present your
proof-of-award of the Purple Heart and VA will register you for medical care
in priority group 3 (same group as those with 10 and 20 percent
Enrollees receive free medical care, that is,
without assessment of co-payments. The only charges, and that does not
necessarily apply in all cases, is that Pharmacy prescriptions may require a
The current VA rate is $8 for each 30-day supply
of a prescription medication. This medical benefit for Purple Heart
recipients was enacted by Congress over ten years ago.
On occasion we still find Purple Heart
recipients, even some who are members of our Order, who are not aware of it.
All who have been relying on some other health care system should carefully
compare what they have now against what the VA will provide. There is great
potential here for some Purple Heart recipients to significantly reduce
medical expenses by signing up.
PURPLE HEART LICENSE PLATES.
may register your car with Purple Heart Plates at your County Tax
Assessor-Collector’s Office for only $3 per year.
If you do not, you are not only losing out on
saving whatever money you have been paying for your regular license plates
every year; but you also miss out on certain free parking privileges (see
FREE TRANSFER OF PURPLE HEART PLATES.
You can transfer Purple Heart Plates to your newly
purchased vehicle without fee by the state.
In order to save the transfer fee you (or your
car dealer) must use a “special plates” transfer form (VTR-420 UT).
TO OBTAIN FORMS.
Download forms from
www.txdot.gov or, call the Texas Department
of Transportation, (512) 374-5010 and go thru the “menu” of pressing buttons
until you get a customer service representative who will mail you the blank
forms for anything to do with military plates, including free Transfer of
Purple Heart plates to a new vehicle.
Also, the Vehicle Titles and Registration office
that serves your local community will have them available.
OTHER BENEFITS FOR TEXAS
Many valuable benefits, in fact the majority of
veterans benefits, are open to all (who satisfy eligibility requirements)
but, have nothing to do with the Purple Heart or any other individual awards
Here are several in that category that are of
POST 9/11 G. I. BILL.
This only went into effect in August 2009.
It provided an expansion of benefits now
enabling the newest generation of veterans, and for the first time, their
family members, to fully cover the costs of obtaining a college degree.
Designed to pay for tuition and fees, books and
living expenses, and to let career troops transfer those benefits to spouses
and children, and it is cost free. The VA now reports that in this past
school year benefit payments went out to more than 285,000 veterans or their
qualified dependents and to their educational institutions.
At least a half-dozen of them are Chapter 1919
members and our other
wounded patriots ask more questions about this, especially the dependent
transferability options, than any other benefits topic.
So, that is what we will focus on in this issue.
The wording is too lengthy to reprint in entirety here, but our
oversimplification that follows here is not incorrect. Service members with
at least 10 years active duty can transfer their benefit (for tuition only)
to their spouse or dependent children. Spouses of service members who have
served at least 6 years and agree to another 4-year contract can receive the
money even sooner, and division of the benefits is also permissible (meaning
the service member’s 36 months of benefits can be split among the spouse and
one or more children). To see everything the VA has to say about
transferability of the G.I. Bill’s education benefits, go to VA’s webpage on
“HAZLEWOOD ACT” BENEFITS.
Honorably discharged veterans who were Texas residents
upon entry into the military, entered active duty in Texas, or declared
Texas as “home of record” at time of entry, and who have no federal
educational benefits remaining, have lifetime “Hazlewood Exemption
benefits;” that being up to 150 hours of tuition and fee exemptions at state
supported colleges and universities. A recent change now allows the veterans
to transfer their unused hours to a child between the ages of 18 and 25.
More than one child can use it, but no more than
one may be enrolled at a time. For more information visit the Texas Veterans
or call the TVC toll free at 1-877-898-3833.
EXEMPTION FOR VETERANS WITH 100 PERCENT DISABILITY.
Beginning with tax year 2009, state law requires that
the homestead (principal residence) of a veteran having either a 100% VA
disability rating, or who is compensated at the 100% level due to individual
unemployability, be exempt from any calculation of property taxation.
Regardless of the number of taxing units (school
districts, utility districts, hospital districts) in which the veteran’s
homestead may be, the appraisal district will report the home’s value as $0
(meaning the veteran pays no property taxes on his home). It isn’t
automatic. Eligible disabled vets must apply for the exemption with their
County Appraisal District and provide a current certification letter from
the VA proving the disability rating. We are still finding 100 percent
disabled veteran homeowners who do not know
about this. They have already missed out on two year’s of exemptions because
applications must be completed between January 1st and April 30th.
Big dollars are at stake here, and there’s no
time like the present to get ready for next year.
Visit your County Veterans Service Officer, or the Texas Veterans
Commission, or the Texas Veterans Land Board to learn about these benefits.