Massachusetts Veteran’s Benefits

Updated: December 24, 2022
In this Article

    Find Massachusetts state and local veteran benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks and tax exemptions, recreation and much more below. The Bay State provides benefits for 330,000 veterans who reside in the State of Massachusetts.

    Technically, the State of Massachusetts is referred to as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in state legal documents, but we use “the State of Massachusetts” interchangeably with “Commonwealth” here.

    Massachusetts State Veteran Education Benefits

    Commonwealth of Massachusetts College Tuition Waivers

    Massachusetts veterans may be eligible for undergraduate tuition waivers at state-supported colleges in the state. To qualify, a veteran must be a legal resident of Massachusetts. Applicants must not be in default on any federal student loan. This program is open on a space-available basis, “for a waiver of full or partial tuition based on proper documentation of the eligibility of the veteran”.

    The amount of space available for qualifying veterans is determined by each college or university. These tuition waivers must, in general, lead to a degree or certificate where applicable. Non-credit courses may be excluded from the tuition waiver, and some night school or certificate programs may not qualify for the waivers depending on the institution.

    Prospective students interested in this tuition waiver for Massachusetts veterans should contact the state-sponsored institution of their choice to learn how to apply.

    Massachusetts National Guard Tuition and Fees Waiver

    Qualifying members of the Massachusetts National Guard are eligible for a waiver of tuition and fees for all state-supported colleges and universities. Potential applicants must contact the college or university veterans’ representative for details and instructions on how to apply.

    The Massachusetts Soldiers Legacy Fund (MSLF)

    The Soldiers Legacy Fund is a charitable trust for eligible surviving dependents of Massachusetts service members killed while deployed on Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

    This trust provides education grants for post-secondary school, higher education, trade or professional school. It also offers “Pre post-secondary” education grants for special needs programs, tutoring, college counseling, summer camps and related programs. Information about applying for these grants is available at [email protected].

    Massachusetts Public Service Scholarship Programs

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers scholarships for undergraduate studies “at an institution of higher education in the Commonwealth” to qualifying children of Massachusetts veterans who meet the following criteria:

    • Children of prisoners of war or military or service members declared missing in action in Southeast Asia with service between Feb. 1, 1955, and the termination of the Vietnam campaign;
    • Children of Massachusetts veterans killed in action or otherwise died as a result of military service.

    More information about this program is available from the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Welcome Home High School Diploma Program For Veterans

    In November of 2005, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts passed the Welcome Home Bill, which allows Massachusetts high schools to award diplomas to World War II, Korean, and Vietnam veterans.

    Eligible veterans are those who left high school for military service and did not return. These diplomas are available by working with a Veterans’ Service Officer to apply.

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    Massachusetts State Veteran Employment Benefits

    Veteran Preference In State and Civil Service Employment

    There are a variety of perks and protections for eligible veterans apply for or hoping to maintain employment with the state of Massachusetts.

    They include a protection for state jobs that are not civil service related; those in such positions for more than three years “cannot be involuntarily separated for lack of work or money when similar offices or positions exist, unless such positions are held by veterans” according to the Massachusetts Veterans Laws And Benefits guidebook.

    Veterans are also offered preference for civil service jobs in the following order:

    1. Disabled veterans
    2. Veterans
    3. Spouses or single parents of veterans who were killed in action or who died from a service-connected disability incurred during wartime service provided that the spouse or parent has not remarried.

    Veterans applying for no-exam civil service positions get preference over “equally qualified non-veterans”.

    Civil service jobs in Massachusetts include a “system of absolute veteran’s preference”; where qualifying veterans scoring “70 points or above” on an open competitive civil service exam are promoted to the top of the eligibility list for those positions including police and firefighter jobs.

    This preference does not equal automatic hiring for the veteran but allows the veteran to be considered first where applicable.

    Massachusetts State Veteran Housing Benefits

    Home for the Brave Program

    eMassHousing offers affordable, no-down payment mortgage financing for veterans of the U.S. Armed Services.

    Operation Welcome Home Mortgages

    This program offers home loans with affordable terms for members of the Guard, Reserve, active-duty military, Veterans and Gold Star families. This program is need-based, has income limits and purchase price restrictions and targeted area financing may apply. This program offers up to $2,500 in closing cost assistance and may be combined with MassHousing down payment assistance.

    Massachusetts Soldiers’ Homes

    The state operates two Soldiers’ Homes in Massachusetts, offering acute hospital care, domiciliary care, long-term care, physical and occupational therapy, laboratory and radiology services, and outpatient care.

    There are two state Soldiers’ Homes:

    • Chelsea Soldiers’ Home
      91 Crest Avenue Chelsea, MA 02150
    • Holyoke Soldiers’ Home
      110 Cherry Street, Holyoke, MA 01041

    Admission to these facilities is based on veteran status, need, and space available. The official site states that treatment options and caregiving include extended care for veterans “with elopement / wandering tendencies, units for Veterans at various stages of cognitive impairment and functional abilities and a unit for Veterans requiring hospice and/or palliative care”.

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    Massachusetts State Veteran Financial Benefits

    Massachusetts Veterans’ Bonuses and Annuities

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts offers bonuses and other payments to qualifying Massachusetts veterans who served in designated wartime campaigns or other operations. If the veteran has died, spouses, dependents, parents or siblings may be eligible to receive the bonuses instead.

    These bonuses include annuities for 100% disabled veterans, but also bonus payments for military service in one of the following campaigns:

    • World War Two
    • Korea
    • Vietnam
    • Persian Gulf
    • Operation Enduring Freedom
    • Operation Iraqi Freedom
    • Operation Noble Eagle
    • Operation Inherent Resolve
    • Operation Freedom’s Sentinel

    Other operations where veterans were discharged under honorable conditions are also eligible for consideration.

    Massachusetts State Property Tax Exemptions For Veterans, Spouses, And Parents

    There are a variety of state property tax exemptions in Massachusetts ranging from $400 to total exemption for qualifying veterans and family members. There are many exemptions including those for Purple Heart recipients, Gold Star families, surviving spouses, disabled veterans, and many other variations.

    To be eligible for these exemptions, the veterans and other family members are required to be legal residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, occupy the property as the home address on or before July 1st in the year the tax exemptions are applied for, and:

    • Have lived in Massachusetts for at least six months prior to entering the service (spouses exempted) or;
    • Have lived in Massachusetts for five consecutive years immediately prior to filing for a property tax
    • Surviving spouses may qualify for property tax exemptions if those exemptions were received before the death of the veteran. Surviving spouses lose their tax exemptions upon remarriage where applicable.

    To apply for these tax exemptions, contact your a local assessor’s office.

    Massachusetts Military Retirement Pay Tax Exemption

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts does not apply state income taxes to military retirement income.

    Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Excise Tax Exemption For Disabled Veterans, Ex-Prisoners Of War

    Qualifying veterans who are Massachusetts residents suffering the “loss, or permanent loss of the use of one or both feet or one of both arms or has permanent visual impairments as determined by the VA or has been determined by the medical advisory board within the Registry of Motor Vehicles to be permanently disabled” may be eligible for motor vehicle excise exemption.

    This Massachusetts tax break is good for one non-commercial motor vehicle owned for personal use. Surviving spouses may also be eligible depending on circumstances.

    Massachusetts Motor Vehicle Sales Tax Exemption For Qualifying Disabled Veterans

    Massachusetts veterans with VA-rated, service-connected disabilities including the loss or permanent loss of the use of, both legs or both arms or one leg and one arm may be eligible for a motor vehicle sales tax exemption. This exemption is for one motor vehicle registered for personal use.

    Massachusetts Financial Public Assistance For Indigent Veterans

    The Commonwealth offers financial and medical help for qualifying indigent veterans and their dependents. This is a need-based program that offers help with food, shelter, medical care and other needs using a formula “which takes into account the number of dependents and income from all sources”.

    The financial public assistance program is open to qualifying dependents of veterans who have died, providing the same help as though the veteran were still alive. Applications must be submitted via a Veterans’ Service Officer; you can locate a VSO by calling the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services at 617-210-5480.

    Additional Massachusetts State Veteran Benefits

    Massachusetts Driver License And ID Cards For Veterans

    The procedures for Massachusetts state identification cards, drivers’ licenses, learner’s permits, and liquor ID cards allow the addition of a Veteran designation on these documents. There is no added fee for this service, but regular fees for all cards applies and the designation cannot be added via an online application, it must be done in person.

    Massachusetts Military License Plates

    Qualifying service members are eligible for free license plates designating the award of military honors for (but not limited to) the following:

    • Bronze Star
    • Medal of Honor
    • Distinguished Flying Cross
    • Legion of Valor
    • Pearl Harbor Survivors
    • Silver Star
    • Purple Heart
    • Ex-POW
    • Disabled Veterans

    Supporting documentation is required for each of these plates, and to obtain a disabled veteran placard or set of plates, qualifying medical criteria is also required.

    Massachusetts State Burial Benefits For Veterans

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts runs two state veterans’ cemeteries, one in Agawam and the other located in Winchendon. Eligible veterans may be buried without a fee; there is a nominal cost for the burial of eligible spouses and dependent children.

    Requirements include residency, a military discharge under honorable conditions, and accompanying paperwork or documentation.

    Massachusetts Recreational Licenses For Veterans

    Recreational licenses may be offered to veterans or currently serving military members displaying ID or other required documentation for in-state rates for recreational licenses such as for hunting or fishing. Certain day-use costs such as parking fees at Massachusetts state parks may be waived for veterans with a Disabled Veteran designation license plate.

    Link to Massachusetts Veterans Services

    Written by Team