Pennsylvania Veteran’s Benefits

Updated: December 24, 2022
In this Article

    Find Pennsylvania state and local veterans benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation and much more below. Pennsylvania is home to nearly 900,000 vets according to data from the Department of Veterans Affairs, and that population enjoys access to state assistance to many veteran’s benefits.

    Pennsylvania Veteran Education Benefits

    Educational Gratuity For Dependent Children of Veterans

    Up to $500 per term or semester (with an eight semester limit) is available for the dependent children of honorably discharged veterans who have qualifying disabilities (rated at 100% permanent and total disability by the VA) and who served in times of armed conflict. This benefit is also available to the surviving dependents of veterans who died while serving during a period war or armed conflict. Dependents must qualify with the following criteria:

    • Must be 16 – 23 years old
    • Must demonstrate financial need
    • Must be a resident of Pennsylvania five years prior to application
    • must attend an approved school within the state

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    Pennsylvania Veteran Employment Benefits

    Veteran Benefits For Employment

    Free career resources for veterans are available via the Pennsylvania CareerLink official site.

    Like many other states, Pennsylvania offers veteran preference points for state Civil Service jobs, and these points can be transferred to a spouse for qualifying disabled veterans. Veteran preference points can be used for initial hires, but not for promotions according to the Pennsylvania State Civil Service Commission official site.

    Pennsylvania Veteran Housing Benefits

    The Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) offers help with veteran-friendly home loans and related programs that feature lower fees and rates. PHFA does not lend money but relies on a network of participating lenders who offer need-based help for those who want to get into an affordable home and meet the program requirements.

    PFHFA offers the following programs:

    • The Keystone Government Loan Program (K-Gov)
    • HFA Preferred (Lo MI)
    • Keystone Home Loan
    • Keystone Advantage Assistance Loan Program

    Disabled Veteran Real Estate Tax Exemption

    Pennsylvania residents who are honorably discharged veterans with qualifying disabilities may be exempt from paying real estate taxes “on any building” that serves as the veteran’s principal residence with a five-acre land limit where the building stands. Qualifying disabilities include but may not be limited to the following:

    • Blind or paraplegic
    • has sustained the loss of two or more limbs
    • has a service-connected disability declared by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs to be a total or 100% permanent disability

    This tax exemption is need-based, so qualifying veterans will need to file a claim with the Pennsylvania State Veterans Commission.

    Pennsylvania State Veterans’ Homes

    Honorably discharged veterans who were residents of the state at the time they entered military service may be eligible for care at one of six Pennsylvania state veterans’ homes:

    • Hollidaysburg Veterans’ Home
    • Pennsylvania Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home (Erie)
    • Southeastern Veterans’ Center (Spring City)
    • Gino J. Merli Veterans’ Center (Scranton)
    • Southwestern Veterans’ Center (Pittsburgh)
    • Delaware Valley Veterans’ Home (Philadelphia)

    Visit the National Association of State Veteran Homes for a California state home directory with contact information, eligibility requirements and much for more.

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    Pennsylvania Veteran Financial Benefits

    Veteran Retirement Pay Tax Benefits

    The State of Pennsylvania (also referred to as the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) does not tax military retirement benefits as long as those benefits are paid because the military member met age or time-in-service requirements.

    Not all federal retirement programs are eligible for Pennsylvania tax-exempt status and you may be required to furnish proof of the terms of your retirement plan and/or “manually indicate” on the state tax returns which portion of your retirement qualifies for tax-exempt status.

    Veteran Tax Breaks For Out-Of-State Active Duty Service

    According to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, “Compensation earned by residents of PA in the armed forces serving on active duty outside PA is not taxable as compensation in PA.” Those who are Pennsylvania residents and serve within the state are required to pay taxes on military pay, and “Non-active status military pay is also subject to tax, regardless of where served”.

    Veterans Temporary Assistance Program

    Honorably discharged veterans who have completed a period of active duty other than for training may be eligible for temporary financial assistance from the state. This need-based program is for VA-certified disabled veterans who meet certain qualifying circumstances including need-based circumstances including a loss of income or an increase in expenses.

    This program offers financial aid for basic necessities and must not exceed $1,600 in a 12-month period. Surviving spouses may also qualify for this assistance.

    The Pennsylvania Military Family Relief Assistance Program (MFRAP)

    The state of Pennsylvania offers need-based financial grants to Pennsylvania service members and family members up to $3,500. This grant is available to both currently serving military (see below) and qualifying veterans.

    Qualifying criteria for currently serving military members:

    • Serve 30 or more consecutive days of active duty with the U.S. Armed Forces or reserve components
    • Serve 30 or more consecutive days of active duty or state active duty in the PA Army or Air National Guard
    • Are a member in good standing of any reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the PA National Guard, for a period of three years after release from a tour of active duty, authorized under Title 10 or Title 32, U.S. Code (other than for training), of 30 or more consecutive days duration, when the need for assistance is directly related to the member’s performance of active duty
    • Are a member in good standing of the PA National Guard for a period of three years after release from a tour of state active duty of 30 or more consecutive days duration, when the need for assistance is directly related to the member’s performance of state active duty

    Qualifying criteria for veterans includes (but is not limited to) active duty, National Guard, or Reserve service, “for a period of four years after a medical discharge for a medical disability incurred in Line of Duty and the reasons arising to the discharge did not exist prior to the member’s military service”.

    Pensions For Amputee, Blind, and Paralyzed Veterans

    There are state pension programs for qualifying disabled veterans who were Pennsylvania residents when entering military service and “served honorably.” These programs pay $150 a month each for qualifying service-connected injuries, disabilities, or illnesses including:

    • Qualifying loss of vision that includes (but may not be limited to) Visual acuity with the best correcting lens equalling 3/60, or 10/200 or equivalent, or less normal vision in the better eye. Also includes cases where the “widest diameter of the visual field of the better eye has contracted to an angular distance of not greater than 20 degrees”
    • A service-connected injury/disease that results in the loss (or loss of use) of two or more extremities
    • Qualifying disability (at least 40% disability compensation rating or higher in each limb) as rated by the Department of Veterans Affairs

    These pension benefits are not automatic and must be applied for; you will be required to give supporting documentation and other evidence as needed.

    Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans Bonus

    This program awards financial compensation for qualified currently service members, veterans, and certain surviving relatives of veterans who served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. Compensation is available for qualifying Pennsylvania residents totally $75 per month served in the Persian Gulf with a maximum benefit of $525.

    There is an additional benefit of $5,000 for those who were declared a prisoner of war at any time during active service in the Persian Gulf Theater during the period of Aug. 2, 1990 to Aug. 31, 1991

    This program was originally due to expire in 2015, but further legislation allowed a final application deadline for this benefit of  Aug. 31, 2018. Applicants must have been Pennsylvania residents at the time of the qualifying active service.

    Veteran Benefits For State Retirement Pay

    Veterans employed by the State of Pennsylvania may be eligible to purchase retirement service time to increase retirement pay.

    According to the Pennsylvania State Employees Retirement System official site, “You can only purchase service while you are an active, contributing SERS member; you cannot purchase service after you leave state employment or while you are on a leave without pay.”

    Terms and conditions vary depending on the nature of your military service and whether or not you receive active duty retirement pay.

    Pennsylvania Additional Veteran Benefits

    Veteran Drivers License/ID Card Designations

    Veterans may apply for a service-related designation on their state drivers’ license or ID card, however application fees and/or renewal fees may apply.

    Veteran Benefits For Recreation

    There are a variety of discounts and perks for veterans from the State of Pennsylvania including hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses. Disabled veterans with qualifying VA-rated medical issues may be eligible for free or reduced licenses via the County Treasurer’s office.

    Pennsylvania Links to Veterans Services

    Written by Team