Benefits in my Backyard: Florida

The largest city in America, in terms of area, is Jacksonville.

Jonathan Kaupanger
April 20, 2018 - 12:45 pm

Dreamstime

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1.5 million veterans call Florida home.  In 1959, the US Postal Service used a cruise missile to deliver mail to the state.  Starting in New Jersey it only took 22 minutes to deliver the cargo to Florida.  What this has to do with veterans I don’t know, but it is cool!  The first Christmas celebrated in the U.S. was in Florida and sticking with holidays, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in Florida, not Plymouth Rock. 

 

Taxes

There is no state income tax in Florida so retirement income isn’t taxed either.  An honorable discharge is required to take advantage of the following tax exemptions:

  • Homestead Tax Exemptions for Veterans. Real estate that’s owned and used as a primary residence by a veteran is exempt from tax.Vets must have a service connected, permanent and total disability.You must be a resident on Jan. 1 of the year that the exemption is being claimed. This can be transferred to the surviving spouse.
  • Homestead Tax discount for Vets age 65 and older, with combat related disability.Tax discount is based on percentage of disability. This discount is in addition to any other exemptions the veteran may have. At least part of the disability must be combat-related.
  • Homestead Property Tax Exemption. Veterans with a VA certified service-connected disability of more than 10 percent, but not permanent, can receive $5,000 discount to property tax. Must be a resident of the state. Contact county tax official to set this up. Transferable to unmarried surviving spouse.

 

Education

Out of state tuition fees are waived for veterans with an honorable discharge who are enrolled in Florida public and post-secondary schools.  This can be extended to spouses and dependent children who live in the state and who are using GI Bill benefits.  Active duty members living or stationed outside of the state and Purple Heart recipients receive this fee waiver as well. 

 

Career

  • Veterans’ Preference. Veterans receive preference for state and all subdivisions of state employment. To qualify you must have an honorable discharge and be:
    • A disabled veteran with active duty experience with a service-connected disability.
    • Spouse of a veteran with total, permanent service-connected disability.
    • A wartime veteran (served at least one day during a war).
    • Unremarried surviving spouse of a veteran who died of service-connected disability.
    • Gold Star Parents
    • Current member of any reserve component of the US Armed Forces or Florida National Guard.

Forms: Veterans’ Preference Certification, Unremarried Widow or Widower Certification, Current member of US Armed Forces or Florida National Guard.

Email for Vet Preference information: Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs

  • Employ Florida Vets.  The online job portal for the state.  Find jobs and training opportunities.
  • Health License Fee Waivers for Vets and Spouses. Helps vets and spouses find employment in health-related fields after leaving the military.
  • People First  helps active duty find jobs.  If you are planning to leave the military within the next 60 months or you received honorable discharge within the past 60 months.
  • Job Placement and Training.  Interview preparation, resume writing assistance, job and training referrals and assistance to homeless veterans.

 

Family

 

Entertainment

  • Florida State Park Discount Passes.  Active duty and veterans with an honorable discharge receive a 25 percent discount on annual passes. Pass is available for purchase at any Florida State Park staffed ranger station.  Veterans with a service-connected disability, surviving spouses/parents of members killed in action will receive a free lifetime family pass.
  • Hunting and Fishing.  Active or retired Military can purchase the Military Gold Sportsman’s License for $20 at a tax collector’s office. 
  • Operation Outdoor Freedom.  Recreation and rehabilitation opportunities for veterans injured while serving.

 

Housing

  • Veterans’ Homes.  Basic admission requirements include an honorable discharge, Florida residency and a certification of need.

 

Cemetery and Burial

  • Florida follows the same requirements for burial as the VA.  Eligible spouses and dependents can be buried with the veteran.
  • 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.

 

Links or Resources