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The Top 5 Most Important Massachusetts Veteran Benefits

In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, service members, veterans, and their families are entitled to an array of exclusive benefits. These Massachusetts veteran benefits encompass:

  • bonus programs
  • annuities tailored for veterans
  • preferential hiring in state employment
  • exemptions on property taxes
  • assistance with education and tuition fees
  • specialized vehicle license plates
  • privileges for hunting and fishing licenses
  • and more

However, it’s important to note that access to certain benefits might hinge on your place of residence, branch of military service, and the nature and extent of any service-related disabilities. Below is a detailed outline of the benefits provided by the state of Massachusetts for its veterans.

1) Financial Benefits for Massachusetts Veterans

Combat Pay Income Tax Exemption and Filing Extension

Service members domiciled in Massachusetts are not required to pay state income tax on combat pay that’s excluded from federal adjusted gross income. Additionally, those returning from combat zones or recovering from combat-related injuries benefit from a 180-day extension period for filing their state income taxes.

Military Retired Pay Tax Exemption

Massachusetts graciously exempts military retired pay from state income tax, allowing veterans to retain more of their hard-earned pensions.

Tax Considerations for Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

While TSP distributions are not exempt from state tax, and early withdrawals may attract higher tax rates, it’s noteworthy that TSP doesn’t withhold taxes for state or local jurisdictions.

Exclusion of Disability Retirement Pay from State Taxes

Disability retirement pay, including certain veteran-specific compensations and allowances, is safeguarded from being taxed as income in Massachusetts. This provision covers a broad spectrum of benefits, ranging from disability compensations to housing grants for veterans who use wheelchairs.

Tax-Free Status of VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)

DIC, a benefit for survivors of service members who passed away in the line of duty or due to service-connected causes, maintains its tax-exempt status, providing financial relief to eligible recipients.

Tax Exemptions for Survivors

Survivor pensions, especially those directed to surviving spouses, are exempted from state tax, ensuring financial stability for families of veterans.

Property Tax Exemptions

Massachusetts offers a variety of property tax exemptions for veterans, their spouses, and surviving family members, recognizing the sacrifices made by the service members. These exemptions range from general relief to total exemptions for surviving spouses of service members who died in combat or due to combat-related causes.

Motor Vehicle Tax Benefits

Service members, disabled veterans, and former POWs, along with their surviving spouses, are entitled to motor vehicle excise tax exemptions. Additionally, disabled veterans are eligible for sales tax exemptions on personal, non-commercial vehicles.

Income Tax Relief for Nonresident Military Spouses

Spouses of nonresident service members stationed in Massachusetts can benefit from exemptions on state taxes for income earned within the state, easing the financial burdens associated with military life.

Veteran Annuity and Bonuses

To honor the service and sacrifice, Massachusetts provides an annuity of $2,000 annually to eligible disabled veterans, Gold Star Parents, and surviving spouses. Furthermore, the state acknowledges the dedication of its service members and veterans through bonus programs.

Statewide Advocacy for Veterans (SAVE Program)

Understanding the challenges veterans face during the transition to civilian life is the heart of the SAVE program. This initiative plays a pivotal role in preventing suicide and addressing mental health issues. The goal is to break down institutional and personal barriers to support they rightfully deserve.

Massachusetts stands firm in its commitment to its military and veteran communities, continually developing and offering benefits that address their unique needs and honor their service to the nation.

2) Massachusetts Housing and Transportation Benefits for Military and Veterans

Massachusetts recognizes the importance of support for its military community, offering a range of housing and transportation benefits tailored to the needs of service members, veterans, and their families.

Transportation Services for Veterans

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Veterans Services facilitates convenient transportation for veterans. Veterans can access a variety of transportation services, ensuring they can travel without hassle.

Massachusetts Military Family Relief Fund

Addressing the financial burdens that come with deployment, the Massachusetts Military Family Relief Fund provides need-based grants of up to $1,000. This support is available to members of the Massachusetts National Guard and residents serving in the U.S. Armed Forces Reserves who face financial hardships due to deployment. Families of service members are also eligible for this crucial financial support.

Housing Preference

Veterans facing displacement due to housing projects or urban renewal initiatives receive priority in public housing selection, particularly those with service-connected disabilities or families of veterans who passed away due to service-related causes.

Income Exemptions for Housing Eligibility

Financial aid like tuition, fees, and book allowances are exempt from the gross income calculations, making it easier for veterans to qualify for state-aided public housing. Similarly, certain types of military disability retirement don’t count against income considerations.

Assurance of Continued Occupancy

Stability is key in public housing, and as such, veterans, their surviving spouses, or Gold Star Mothers who have resided in public housing for eight consecutive years are guaranteed continued occupancy, ensuring they have a secure place to call home.

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3) Education Programs for Massachusetts Veteran Benefits

Massachusetts is committed to providing robust educational support for its service members, veterans, and their families, ensuring access to higher education and developmental resources.

Family Education Benefits

Recognizing the sacrifices of military families, Massachusetts permits National Guard members to transfer their educational benefits to dependent children, ensuring the legacy of education continues within military families. This benefit, capped at 130 semester hours, must be utilized within ten years of the service member’s separation or by the age of 26 for the eligible children.

Tuition Waivers for Veterans and Active Duty Members

Veterans and active duty service members are afforded the opportunity to pursue higher education through tuition waivers for Massachusetts state colleges, universities, or community colleges, alleviating the financial strain of furthering their education.

Veterans Upward Bound at Suffolk University

Suffolk University’s Veterans Upward Bound Program is a free, dedicated program designed to prepare veterans for college-level studies. This program offers comprehensive support, including:

  • academic preparation
  • college and career counseling
  • financial planning guidance
  • application assistance

Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund (MSLF)

The MSLF is a charitable trust that provides educational grants to children of Massachusetts service members who have made the ultimate sacrifice during the Global War on Terrorism, honoring their legacy through education.

Recognition for Wartime Veterans

Massachusetts ensures wartime veterans who had to leave high school for service have an opportunity for higher education. Eligible veterans can receive their high school diplomas, acknowledging their commitment and service to the nation.

Massachusetts Public Service Grant Program

This program offers scholarships to children of service members who were declared POW, MIA, or KIA. These scholarships support undergraduate studies in Massachusetts institutions, ensuring educational support for families affected by service-related adversities.

Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (MIC3)

Understanding the unique challenges faced by military families due to frequent relocations, MIC3 aims to streamline the educational transition for military children. This compact addresses enrollment, placement, graduation, and information sharing, ensuring military children receive consistent and uninterrupted education.

Massachusetts Purple Star Award for Military-Friendly Schools

To further support military families, Massachusetts recognizes schools that demonstrate a strong commitment to military students and their families. The Purple Star Award designates schools that provide dedicated resources to military-connected students.

4) Employment and Job Training at Massachusetts Veteran Benefits

In Massachusetts, the commitment to veterans extends into the realm of employment and job training. State law ensures they receive the recognition and support they deserve in the civilian workforce.

MassHire Department of Career Services (DCS) for Veterans

The MassHire DCS plays a pivotal role in bridging the gap between military service and civilian employment. This department offers a suite of services tailored for veterans, active service members, and their spouses, focusing on job training, placement, and career development. Specialized support is provided by Veteran Employment Representatives (VER) and Massachusetts Disabled Veteran Outreach Program Specialists (DVOPs), who are well-versed in the unique needs of veterans with service-connected disabilities.

Priority of Service in Employment

MassHire DCS ensures veterans are part of the job market by offering Priority of Service. This initiative places eligible veterans and their spouses at the forefront. They can receive early access to job openings, training programs funded by the Department of Labor (DOL), and related services.

State Employment Veterans Preference

Massachusetts veteran benefits extend to preferential treatment in civil service employment, including:

  1. Open Competitive Exams: Veterans scoring above 70 points are given absolute preference. They place at the top of eligibility lists for civil service positions, including roles in police and fire departments.
  2. Promotional Exams: Eligible veterans receive an additional two points on their scores, enhancing their chances for career advancement.
  3. Labor Service and Public Service: Veterans enjoy top placement on eligibility lists for labor service positions. Special consideration is given to certain public service roles, ensuring their service is honored across various employment sectors.

Military Service Buyback in Public Employment

Veterans employed in state positions have the opportunity to buy back up to four years of their military service. This way, they can integrate it into their retirement plan within the Massachusetts State Employee’s Retirement System (MSERS). This provision allows for a more equitable retirement plan, acknowledging their service to the nation.

USERRA Protections

The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) safeguards the job rights and benefits of veterans and reserve component members. This comprehensive legislation ensures that individuals who serve their country can return to their civilian employment without losing their rights or benefits. It covers various aspects, including absence from work due to military duty, disability accommodation, retention of seniority, and the extension of health and pension plans.

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5) Recreational Benefits for Massachusetts Veterans

Massachusetts extends its appreciation for veterans and service members through a series of recreational benefits. Those who serve or have served can enjoy the natural beauty and outdoor activities the state has to offer.

Reduced License Fees for Nonresident Service Members

Service members not originally from Massachusetts who station here can receive resident rates for hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses. This benefit allows them to explore and enjoy the rich wildlife and outdoor activities without financial burden.

Complimentary Licenses for Disabled Residents

Massachusetts acknowledges the sacrifices of its disabled residents by offering free freshwater fishing and hunting licenses. This gesture ensures that disabilities do not hinder the enjoyment of the state’s natural resources.

Waived State Park Parking Fees

Massachusetts waives day-use parking fees at state parks. Vehicles bearing a Massachusetts Disabled Veteran or Purple Heart license plate are exempt from the annual parking pass requirement. This advantage makes it easier and more affordable for veterans to access and enjoy the state’s beautiful parks.

Key Takeaways

Massachusetts stands out for its dedication to veterans, offering comprehensive benefits and support systems. With financial benefits like tax exemptions, the state ensures veterans receive the recognition they deserve. The commitment extends to education with tuition waivers, ensuring long-term success. Housing benefits and transportation services reflect the state’s holistic approach to supporting veterans in various life aspects. Moreover, USERRA protections and federal employment preferences underscore a commitment to securing veterans’ rights in the workforce. Massachusetts sets a high standard for veteran support to facilitate a smooth transition to civilian life.

About MassVeteran

Easterseals Massachusetts Military & Veteran programs strive to ensure that our military and veteran community members adjust to our communities after service. We created our website as a resource for Veterans to find information on various Massachusetts veteran benefits, register for activities and events, and explore other ways to participate in military veteran outreach.

To get involved, check out our MassVeteran Play and Learning Opportunities. Surrounding yourself with positive people, learning from peers’ experiences, sharing your knowledge and experiences with others, and engaging with the community is critical to reintegration. Contact us today to learn more, or click here to apply for a medical equipment loan!

About Easterseals

Easterseals seeks to change the way the world defines disabilities by making positive, profound differences in veterans’ lives. For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has been an indispensable resource for people and families challenged by disability.

MassVeteran is proud to collaborate with Easterseals, a national nonprofit organization committed to supporting individuals with disabilities, including veterans. Easterseals offers various Massachusetts veteran benefits, including mental health support, counseling, employment assistance, and community integration programs. Their well-established longevity as a foundation supports the MassVeteran Foundation as a reputable nonprofit. The local Easterseals MA division provides additional resources and opportunities for veterans to access mental health services.