Benefits in my Backyard: Georgia

Jonathan Kaupanger
April 20, 2018 - 12:44 pm

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Just under 700k veterans live in Georgia, making up 9.3 percent of the state’s adult population. The Peach State does grow peaches, but it produces more peanuts, blueberries and pecans than it does peaches. The last of the original 13 Colonies, Georgia was founded in 1733 as a heaven for debtors. Oddly enough at that time, slavery wasn’t allowed. Of course, neither was liquor, lawyers or Catholics.

There are some odd laws to be aware of if you end up living in Georgia. On Sundays, it’s against the law to carry ice cream in your back pocket. Monday through Saturdays, have at it though! It’s also illegal to spread rumors if they are false, funeral directors can lose their licenses if they ‘cuss around a corpse and you are never, ever allowed to hook a giraffe to a pole or street lamp in Georgia and then eat chicken single-handed. Two hands must be kept on your chicken leg at all times I guess!

Taxes

If you’re 62 or older or permanently and totally disabled regardless of age, you may be eligible for a retirement income adjustment on your tax return. Retirement income exceeding the maximum adjustable amount will be taxed at the normal rate.

  • Disabled Veterans Homestead Exemption. This exemption is for veterans with an honorable discharge and who are considered 100 percent disabled by VA. To qualify, the veterans must own the home and use it as a primary residence. The exemption can extend to unmarried surviving spouses and minor children as long as they live in the home or move to a different home but remain in the same county. The amount of this exemption is between $32,500 and $60k. Take proof of qualifying service, residency and a copy of your VA disability rating letter to a GDVS Veterans Field Service Office.
  • Standard Homestead Exemption. $2,000 for all qualifying homeowners.
  • Abatement of Income Taxes for Combat Deaths.
  • Ad Valorem Tax on Vehicles. For veterans who are verified by VA to be 100 percent, totally and permanently service-connected disabled. Exemption is granted on one vehicle with the Disabled Veteran license plate. Purple Heart or Medal of Honor recipients may receive this as well.
  • Business Certificate of Exemption. Georgia veterans may receive an exemption from any occupation tax, administrative fee or regulatory fee imposed by local governments. 

Education

  • In addition to VA GI bill benefits, service members receive access to on-the-job-training (OJT) and apprenticeship programs under the Veterans Education & Training Division. For additional information on VA school benefits, students must contact the division at 404-656-2306.
  • Georgia HERO Scholarship.  Is for members of the Georgia National Guard and US Military Reserves who served in combat zones or their children. The grant is for up to four years with $2k per year. The max total with this scholarship is $8k.
  • The National Guard Service Cancelable Loan Fund provides up to 100 percent of the tuition charges. Must be a resident of Georgia and a member in good standing of the Georgia National Guard.

 Career

  • Employment Preference. Some veterans may receive either 5 or 10 points added to passing scores on pre-employment tests for state jobs. Veterans preference cannot be awarded until copies of the appropriate documentation has been received. Copies of these dox will not be returned. Here’s the standard application.
    • Veteran with honorable discharge receives 5 points. Needs DD214 showing dates of service and type of discharge.
    • Disabled vet, their spouse or surviving spouse all receive 10 points and need to submit DD-214, marriage and death certificates (if applicable). Disabled vets need a VA rating letter dated within last six months.
  • Operation Workforce: An online, one-stop, veteran work resource. 

Family

All Georgia veterans and their dependents are urged to visit the nearest office of the Georgia Department of Veterans Service for complete information on benefits for which they may be eligible as well as professional assistance in obtaining them.

Entertainment

  • Returning veterans are entitled to a free one-year honorary full privilege sportsman’s license, including all state paid recreation and hunting and fishing privileges. Visit georgiawildlife.com or call (800) 336-2661 for more info.
  • Permanently and totally disabled veterans are eligible for a three year disability sportsman license.
  • State Park Entrance Fee Reduction.An honorable discharge and a service-connected, VA rated disability of at least 25 percent may receive a discounted entrance fee.Apply for a state park discount card at a GDVS Veterans Field Service Office.

Housing

  • There are two veteran homes in Georgia.You’ll need to be a resident of the state for at least five years preceding the date of application and have an honorable discharge.Apply at any GDVS Veterans Field Service Office.

Cemetery and Burial

  • There are two Georgia Veterans Memorial Cemeteries, one in Glennville and the other in Milledgeville. Eligibility requirements include an other than dishonorable discharge.
  • Eligibility Determination Form. Pre-needs determination is intended to simplify and assist the veteran’s next-of-kin at the time of death. This does not reserve a plot or niche at the cemetery. There is no cost for this.

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