District of Columbia Veterans Benefits

Updated: March 17, 2021

Table of Contents

    Find state and local veterans’ benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation and much more below. The Nation’s Capital is home to nearly 30,000 Veterans. Learn more about the benefits available to Veterans in The District of Columbia.


    Veteran Education Benefits District of Columbia Veterans Benefits

    DC National Guard Scholarship

    Members of the District of Columbia Army National Guard may be eligible to receive the DC National Guard Scholarship. Depending on availability of funds, this scholarship will reimburse up to $6,000 of tuition and fees for any school year.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:


    Veteran Employment Benefits

    Veterans Employment Initiative

    Veterans may qualify for assistance through the District Department of Employment Services, (DOES). The DOES offers a wide variety of training and job search services, and there are special veterans representatives at most District American Job Centers to assist veterans with accessing these services.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must provide the following:

    • Proof of service
    • Proof of discharge under other than dishonorable conditions
    • Disabled veterans must provide proof of disability:
      • VA award letter

    The benefits offered by the DOES include the following:

    • Registration at an American Job Center
    • Priority status for all employment services
    • Assessments to assist with job search:
      • Individual interest
      • Skills and abilities
    • Career counseling
    • Follow-up services
    • Assistance with accessing counseling and/or medical services

    Veterans Hiring Preference

    Veterans may be eligible to receive 5-point or 10-point veteran preference for initial appointments with the District of Columbia government, or new appointments following a break in service.

    In order to be eligible for a 5-point preference, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Service for more than 180 consecutive days:
      • On or before Oct. 14, 1976 OR
      • In wartime, on or after Oct. 15, 1976
    • Honorable or general discharge

    In order to be eligible for a 10 point preference, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Disability due to military service OR
    • Receiving compensation:
      • Disability retirement benefits
      • Pension
    • Honorable or general discharge.

    Spouses and surviving spouses may also be eligible for hiring preference.

    In order for a spouse to be eligible for this benefit, the veteran must meet the following criteria:

    • Disabled veteran, or
    • Disabled Vietnam veteran, or
    • 30% disabled veteran, AND
    • Disqualified for employment by the District government because of disability due to military service.

    In order for a surviving spouse to be eligible for this benefit, he or she must meet the following criteria:

    • Was married to a veteran
    • Has not remarried (unless remarriage was annulled)
    • Veteran’s service included one of the following:
      • During a war
      • Campaign or expedition with authorized campaign badge
      • Any period of time from April 28, 1952 through July 1,1955
    • Veteran separated from service:
      • Honorable or general discharge; or
      • Died while on active duty under conditions that would not have resulted in an other than an honorable or general discharge.

    Veteran Housing Benefits 

    Armed Forces Retirement Home, (AFRH)

    While there are no veterans homes run by the District of Columbia, there are two AFRH homes run by the federal government in the DC area. Located in Gulfport and Washington, AFRH homes are retirement communities that offer a wide range of programs and amenities alongside accredited healthcare. This includes both assisted living and long-term nursing care.

    Admission criteria varies depending upon the circumstances of applicants:

    • In order to be eligible for admission to one of the homes, applicants must meet the following criteria:
      • Minimum of twenty years and at least one-half of service as enlisted, (other than as a warrant officer or limited-duty officer)
      • Honorable discharge
      • At least 60 years old
    • In order for a disabled veteran to be eligible for admission to one of the homes, he or she must have been honorably discharged. One of the following criteria must also be met:
      • Unable to maintain employment because of disability due to military service
      • Unable to maintain employment due to disability, disease, or injuries
      • Served in a war theater
      • Were eligible for hostile fire pay
      • Determined unable to maintain employment due to disability, disease, or injuries
    • Those who served in either the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corp or the WAVES prior to June 12, 1948 may be eligible for admission to one of the homes in cases of “compelling personal circumstances.”
    • Married couples who are both eligible for admission may also live together in one of the homes.

    All applicants must be free from  drug, alcohol, and psychiatric problems. Convicted felons are ineligible for admission. Applicants must also be able to live independently upon admission. However, assisted living and long term care are available if more intensive health care is needed.

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    Veteran Financial Benefits

    Tax Exemptions For Veterans

    Veterans may be eligible for an exemption from income tax on up to $3,000 of retirement income.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, veterans must meet the following criteria:

    • 62 years of age or older;
    • Receive military retirement income.

    Surviving spouses who are 62 years of age or older and who receive survivor benefits from either the federal government or the District of Columbia are fully excluded from District Individual Income Tax.


    Additional Veteran Benefits

    Driver Licenses and ID Cards for Veterans

    Veterans may qualify for a DC driver license or ID with a “Veteran” designation. There are no additional fees for adding this designation to a license or ID card.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must have been honorably discharged from service. Applicants who do not currently have an updated driver license or ID card with a DC REAL ID credential must also provide additional documentation to qualify for the “Veteran” designation.

    Veteran License Plates and Parking Benefits

    Disabled American Veterans License Plate: Disabled veterans may be eligible for license plates with a “Disabled American Veterans” designation.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • Member of the DC Disabled American Veterans
    • Proof of service
    • Proof of disability due to military service, as determined by the VA

    or

    • Proof of permanent and total disability due to military service, as determined by the VA

    Veterans who are totally and permanently disabled due to military service will receive one set of plates for a non-commercial vehicle. These plates are exempt from annual registration fees. Normal registration fees apply to DAV plates issued to all other applicants.

    DC Veterans License Plates: Veterans, disabled veterans, and spouses may be eligible for plates with a “DC Veteran” designation.  These plates are offered through the DC DMV on behalf of the DC Office of Veteran Affairs.

    In order for veterans to qualify for this benefit, the following must be provided:

    • Military service
    • Honorably discharged
    • DC driver license
    • DC vehicle registration of the vehicle’s registered owner
    • Completed application from the Office of Veterans Affairs that verifies eligibility

    In order for disabled veterans to qualify for this benefit, the following must be provided:

    • Total and permanent disability due to military service, as determined by the VA
    • Military service
    • Honorably discharged
    • DC driver license
    • DC vehicle registration of the vehicle’s registered owner
    • Completed application from the Office of Veterans Affairs that verifies eligibility

    In order for spouses to qualify for this benefit, the following must be provided:

    • Proof of the veterans honorable discharge
    • Marriage certificate
    • Military ID
    • DC driver license
    • DC vehicle registration
    • Completed application from the Office of Veterans Affairs that verifies eligibility

    These plates may only be displayed on non-commercial vehicles. Also, while there are no annual registration fees for these plates, there are application and display fees. However, these fees are collected and deposited into the Office of Veterans Affairs Fund in order to provide other services for DC veterans.

    DC Woman Veteran Tag: Women veterans may qualify for plates with a “DC Woman Veteran” designation.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, applicants must provide the following:

    • Proof of military service
    • Discharge types accepted:
      • Honorable
      • General
      • Other Than Honorable
    • DC Driver License
    • DC vehicle registration of the vehicle’s registered owner
    • Completed application from the Office of Veterans Affairs that verifies eligibility

    These plates may only be displayed on non-commercial vehicles. Also, while there are no annual registration fees for these plates, there are application and display fees. However, these fees are collected and deposited into the Office of Veterans Affairs Fund in order to provide other services for DC veterans.

    Reduced Fare Program for Veterans with Disabilities (Reduced Fare/SmarTrip® Photo ID Card)

    Veterans with disabilities may qualify for a Reduced Fare SmarTrip® photo ID card. These ID cards are issued through Metrobus and Metrorail, and allow card holders to:

    • Ride at discounted rates
    • Pay Metrobus and Metrorail fare with preloaded card
    • Buy 7-Day regional passes
    • Pay half peak fare on Metrorail
    • Pay $0.85 cash for fare

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must meet the following criteria:

    • 60% or more disability rating, as determined by the VA
    • Valid photo ID
    • Original letter of disability notification issued by the VA
    • Must appear in person at the Metro Transit Accessibility Center

    Veterans who are rated at 100% disability may use a valid DD Form 2765 Department of Defense Uniformed Services ID card to verify eligibility.

    VetsRide

    Veterans, family members, and caregivers may be eligible for transportation to vital services such as medical appointments, continuing education, and employment. This program is run through the Mayor’s Office on Veterans Affairs in conjunction with the Department of For-Hire Vehicles.

    In order to be eligible for this benefit, applicants must be veteran residents of Washington DC whose annual income is less than $30,000. Proof of DC residency may be provided using DD-214s or VA cards. Proof of income may be provided through a statement of annual income.

    Burial Assistance Program

    Eligible veterans may qualify for assistance towards the costs of cremation or burial.

    In order to qualify for this benefit, the following criteria must be met:

    • Available funds may not exceed $1000.00 on date of death, including:
      • Banking and checking accounts
      • Social Security checks
      • Final paycheck
    • If married, spousal income and assets will be considered
    • Resident of the District of Columbia
    • Burial or cremation services have been arranged through funeral home under contract with the District
    • Deceased’s body has not been released to non-contract funeral home at time of application

    When applying for this benefit, certain documents are acceptable for the following verifications:

    • Identity of deceased:
      • Social Security Number
    • Income and assets of deceased:
      • Bank statements
      • Pay stubs
    • DC residency of deceased:
      • Leases
      • Utility bills
    • Relationship to deceased:
      • Birth certificate
      • Marriage certificate

    The Burial Assistance Program may provide the following amounts for burial or cremation

    • Up to $1,000.00 towards burial
    • $650.00 towards cremation
    • Total cost of burial or cremation is no more than $2,000.00
    • Cost of burial that requires an oversized casket cannot exceed $3,000.00

    If the deceased veteran is found to be eligible, the Burial Assistance Program will make payments directly to the contract funeral home.


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