Benefits in my Backyard: Oregon

Jonathan Kaupanger
April 20, 2018 - 12:16 pm

Dreamstime

Just over 300,000 veterans call Oregon home. There are four military bases in the Beaver State, one Coast Guard, one Army and two Air Force. One of the Air Force bases is actually located at Portland International Airport. Since 1969, the Oregon Air National Guard has leased land there for operational headquarters and training facilities.

Living in Oregon comes with a few odd laws, like the one that says babies may not be carried on the running boards of cars. Other Oregonian road-rules that might leave you confused include a law that states drivers can’t test their physical endurance while driving on highways; car doors may not be left open longer than necessary and drivers must always yield to pedestrians who are standing on sidewalks. In Klamath River, It’s illegal to walk down a sidewalk and knock a snakes head off with your cane. Marion, Oregon says you’re not allowed to walk backwards on a city street, while eating doughnuts but if you are staying in Marion, one of the best rules ever written says ministers are forbidden from eating garlic or onions before delivering a sermon.

Taxes

Oregon doesn’t tax military retirement pay. If you or your spouse have income from other Oregon sources, you will want to file Form OR-40-N. Property tax exemptions apply to qualifying surviving spouses. A law passed in 2016 may mean you qualify for a refund of federal taxes on disability severance pay going back to 1991.

  • Military pay subtractions. You may qualify for a subtraction from your federal adjusted gross income:
    • For military pay earned while stationed anywhere outside Oregon.
    • For military pay earned by National Guard members assigned away from home 21 days or more.
    • For any remaining taxable military pay after taking the above subtractions, up to $6,000.
  • Property Tax Deferrals. This lets disabled veterans borrow from the state to pay property taxes to the county. To qualify, veterans must be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits because of a disability or blindness. File your request with your local county assessor’s office
  • Property Tax Exemption. Disabled veterans are entitled to exempt some of your homestead property’s assessed value from your taxes. You must be certified by the VA or any branch of the Armed Forces of having a 40 percent or higher disability. File your request with your local county assessor’s office.
  • There are more than 100 exemption programs in Oregon. These are not veteran specific exemptions.

Education

  • Nonresident veteran in-state tuition. If you are a veteran pursuing undergraduate studies in Oregon, you pay in-state rates for tuition and fees. This saving applies to dependents using transferred benefits and orphans of vets who died on active duty. Some online-only programs are excluded. Contact your local veterans’ service office for more information.
  • Voyager Tuition Assistance Program is available to veterans who served in the National Guard or Reserves since Sept. 11, 2001. This program is meant to work in conjunction with other educational aid programs. This does not cover E-campus or distance courses and is not transferable to a spouse or dependents. Contact the campus financial services offices for more information.

Career

  • Veterans receive preference points when testing for open and open non-promotional examinations for state jobs. Veterans with a VA issued, service-connected disability receive 10 points and non-disabled vets with an honorable discharge receive 5 points.
  • Direct Professional Licensing for Military Experience. Veterans in certain career fields don’t need to go back to school for training that they’ve received in the military.
  • Oregon Disabled Veterans and Veterans Employment Representatives. Through WorkSource Oregon, vets and their spouses may qualify for Priority of Service in employment and training services. One of the local Veterans Employment Representatives can assist veterans when applying for jobs.

Family

  • Oregon Veterans’ Emergency Financial Assistance is for vets and their immediate family who are in need of emergency financial assistance. Assistance includes, but isn’t limited to, temporary housing, utility assistance, insurance, house repairs, mortgage or rent assistance, emergency medical or dental expenses and emergency transportation expenses. Call (503) 373-2358 for more information.
  • Oregon Energy Fund is for households with a total gross income that is at or less than 70 percent of the statewide median income. 

Entertainment

  • Hunting and Fishing Licenses. Free for veterans with at least a 25 percent VA rated, service-connected disability. You’ll need to be a state resident for at least six months.
  • Special Access Pass for Disabled Veterans. Passes are valid for four years and give you free year-round camping and day-use privileges at RV and tent sites at 26 state parks.
  • Active Duty Reimbursement. Active duty on official leave may receive reimbursement for state park visits. After your visit, send the camping receipt and a letter from your CO on official letterhead stating you were on leave for the dates you camped. 

Housing

  • ODVA Home Loan Program. Eligible veterans may receive fixed-rate financing through this program.
  • Oregon Veterans’ Homes. There are two state-run homes for veterans in Oregon, the Dalles and the Lebanon. Veterans, their spouses and Gold Star Parents may be eligible to live in one of these homes. You’ll need an honorable discharge and a recommendation by a physician.

Cemetery and Burial

  • Veterans residing in the state are eligible to receive certain end of live benefits.
  • 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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