Miscellaneous Rights and Protections for Servicemembers and Veterans

In addition to educational benefits and civil relief rights and benefits, there are numerous other benefits available to veterans, their family members and survivors under both federal and state law. Please read below to learn more.  For more information about these and other benefits for servicemembers, veterans and their families, please consult the websites of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and theNew York State Division of Veterans’ Affairs.

Federal1

  • Service-Connected Disability Benefits
    • Various Disability Compensation Benefits
      • The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs ("VA") Disability Compensation, a tax-free benefit, varies depending on severity of the disability.
      • VA may pay additional compensation to veterans who have very severe disabilities or loss of limbs, have a spouse, child or dependent parent, or have a seriously disabled spouse.
    • Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits: Eligible veterans with service- connected disabilities may receive certain services for up to 48 months, such as counseling, educational training, and financial aid, in order to become employed or to maintain employment.  

    • Automobile and Special Adaptive Equipment Grants: Servicemembers who have suffered a loss or permanent loss of use of one or both hands, one or both feet, a permanent impairment of vision, severe burn injury, or ALS may be eligible to receive a grant to purchase an automobile to accommodate the disability. VA pays seller of the automobile up to $20, 114.34.

    • Home Modification Programs: Disabled veterans and servicemembers may receive grants for necessary home modifications through multiple VA grant programs. Veterans and servicemembers are eligible for either the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) or Special Home Adaptation Grant (SHA), depending on the type and severity of their disability. In conjunction with SAH or SHA, veterans may receive a Home Improvements and Structural Alterations Grant (HISA) for home improvements necessary for the continuation of treatment or disability access to the home.

    • Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance: Veterans with a service- connected disability but who are otherwise healthy may receive life insurance for up to $10,000 of coverage. Veterans who are totally disabled may be eligible to have their premiums waived and to apply for additional coverage.

    • Former Prisoners of War: The Former Prisoners of War Benefits Act classifies certain diagnoses as presumptive service-connected conditions for former POWs, which renders these individuals eligible for compensation and priority medical treatment

    • Benefits for Filipino Veterans: Filipino veterans may be eligible for VA benefits, including service connected disability compensation, non-service connected pension and a clothing allowance. They may also be eligible for health care benefits.
  • Assistance for Veterans with Limited Income
    • Pension: Veterans who have limited income and who are permanently and totally disabled or age 65 or older may be eligible to receive a pension.

    • Assistance for Homeless Veterans: Multiple VA programs provide case management services, counseling, physical and psychiatric health exams, and housing assistance for homeless veterans who qualify.
  • Assistance with Home Loans
    • Home Loan Guaranty: VA-guaranteed loans are made by private lenders. Upon approval of the loan, VA will guarantee a portion of it, depending on the size of the loan. Only a minimal down payment, if any, is required. The loan may be used to buy a home, to build or improve a home, to buy a lot for a manufactured home, or to refinance an existing loan.  Unmarried surviving spouses may also be eligible for this program.

    • Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI): Veterans who received a Specially Adapted Housing Granted (SAH), have title to the home, and a mortgage on the home may receive insurance coverage on the mortgage. VMLI will pay up to $200,000 of the outstanding mortgage.
  • Benefits Available to Dependents and Survivors of Veterans
    • Dependency & Indemnity Compensation: Unmarried surviving spouses and dependent children of servicemembers who die during active service or of certain veterans may receive this monthly benefit. Parents of veterans who die in service or as a result of a service-connected disability may also be eligible.

    • Death Pension: Unmarried surviving spouses and dependent children of wartime veterans whose death is not due to a service-connected disability may receive this monthly benefit.

    • Education and Training: Unmarried surviving spouses and children of certain servicemembers and veterans may receive educational and training benefits through the Fry Scholarship and The Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program (DEA).  Under DEA, eligible individuals may receive 45 months of education benefits, and may qualify for up to 81 months of GI Bill benefits if DEA is combined with other programs.

    • Health Care: Unmarried surviving spouses and children of certain veterans may receive coverage through programs such as the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    • Civil Service Preference: The unmarried surviving spouse or mother of certain deceased veterans may qualify for hiring preference within the federal government.
  • Burial and Memorial Allowances
    • VA provides burial and plot or interment allowances to eligible survivors.  Currently this allowance is $300.00 for non-service connected deaths and $2,000.00 for deaths connected to military service.  An additional allowance is paid when the deceased was hospitalized in a VA hospital at the time of death or when the deceased is not buried in a national cemetery.
  • Insurance
    • Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance (SGLI): Servicemembers on active duty, Ready Reservists, and certain other servicemembers may apply for SGLI coverage up to the maximum of $400,000. The cost is $0.07 per month per $1,000 of insurance.

    • Veterans' Group Life Insurance(VGLI): VGLI converts an SGLI policy to a renewable term life insurance policy, which may be retained for life regardless of health.

    • Veterans' Mortgage Life Insurance: Veterans who received a Specially Adapted Housing Granted (SAH), have title to the home, and a mortgage on the home may receive insurance coverage on the mortgage. VMLI will pay up to $90,000 of the outstanding mortgage.

    • Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance: Veterans with a service-connected disability but who are otherwise healthy may receive life insurance for up to $10,000 of coverage. Veterans who are totally disabled may be eligible to have their premiums waived and to apply for additional coverage.

    • Family Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance: Provides coverage for the spouses and dependent children of servicemembers insured under the SGLI. Family SGLI provides coverage up to $100,000 for spouses and up to $10,000 for each child.
  • Other
    • Chemical and Biological Warfare Testing: Veterans who may have been affected by Project 112 and Project Shipboard Hazard And Defense ("SHAD") (testing conducted from 1962-1973) may receive a free physical examination at a VA medical center, and are exempt from co- payments for care or medications required to treat related health problems.

    • Incarcerated Veterans: Incarcerated veterans who may be at risk for homelessness upon their release may seek short-term case management assistance from The Healthcare for Re-Entry Veterans Program. Moreover, a veteran may receive certain VA benefits, such as disability compensation, while in prison, but the amount paid may be reduced or discontinued depending on the reason for and length of incarceration.

New York State 2

  • Licenses & Permits
    • Hunting Licenses & Fishing Permits are available at reduced cost to certain veterans.
  • E-Z Pass
    • A disabled veteran who obtains a fee exempt vehicle registration from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles may enroll in the Authority's Disabled Veteran Non-Revenue E-Z Pass program. This allows free, unlimited travel in a qualified vehicle anywhere on the Thruway system.
  • Registration Fee Exemptions for Military Veterans
    • Certain military veterans may be exempt from automobile registration and vehicle plate fees.
  • State Veterans' Nursing Homes
    • Certain veterans and dependents who require skilled nursing care, who have been New York residents for at least one year or entered active duty from the State of New York, may be eligible for admission to one of five facilities owned and operated by the New York State Department of Health and SUNY.
  • Operation Recognition
    • Enables certain veterans to earn high school diplomas if they left school prior to graduation.
  • Military Service Recognition Scholarships
    • Provides financial aid to certain veterans, children, spouses, and financial dependents of members of the U.S. Armed Forces who while NYS residents, died, suffered a severe and permanent disability, or were classified as missing in action while engaged in hostilities or training for hostilities.
  • Regents Awards
    • Children of Deceased & Disabled Veterans may be awarded up to $450 per year to students if their parent(s) served in the US Armed Forces during specified times of war or a national emergency.
  • The Blind Annuity Program
    • Annuity payment for certain legally blind New York State wartime veterans or the surviving un-remarried spouse of the blind veteran.
  • Homes for Veterans Program
    • Fixed-rate mortgages, down payment assistance, and no points or origination fees for certain veterans and their spouses or co- borrowers.
  • Gold Star Parent Annuity
    • Authorizes an annuity payment of up to $500 per Gold Star parent of a deceased veteran if certain eligibility requirements are met.
  • NYS Veterans' Property Tax Exemption
    • Provides a partial exemption on real property taxes to certain veterans.
  • Supplemental Burial Allowance
    • Provides a maximum of $6,000 payment to defray funeral and burial expenses for certain NYS residents who were members of the armed forces.
  • Veteran Employees with Disabilities (55c)
    • Assistance with placing individuals with disabilities in entry-level State jobs.
  • Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Act
    • Signed into law in 2014, this Act allows certain veteran business-owners to become certified as a New York State Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business (SDVOB).
  • Protection Against Payday Loans
    • Many payday loans are illegal in New York State, and other short term loans are strictly regulated.  Payday lenders that are not licensed by New York State cannot charge individuals in New York interest over 16% for personal loans of $25,000 or less.  Payday lenders that are licensed by New York State can charge up to a 25% interest rate. See for more information on the protections offered by New York State law and alternatives to payday loans
  • Protection Against Deceptive Debt Collection Practices
    • Federal and New York State laws regulate how debts are collected and oversee agencies offering credit or budget counseling.  The Federal Fair Debt Collection Act regulates collections agencies, while the New York State Debt Collections Procedures Law covers both agencies and creditors.  These laws provide consumers with certain protections, including but not limited to:
      • Contact Restrictions—a debt collection agency may only contact you between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., unless you agree to other times.  You may ask in writing that debt collection agency stop calling you.  A creditor or debt collection agency also may not contact your employer, or chain of command, regarding a debt that has not been reduced to judgment.

      • Harassing or Threatening Tactics—debt collectors may not use obscene or profane language, threaten to harm you or your property, advertise your debt for sale, or call without identifying themselves.

      • False or Misleading Representations—debt collectors may not threaten to collect more money than the debt owed, falsely claim they represent a government agency, send communications that falsely appear to come from a court or other government entity, or falsely claim you will be arrested or charged with a crime.
      • For more information, see the New York State Attorney General’s website
  • The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
    • Prohibits discrimination against persons because of their service in the Armed Forces Reserve, the National Guard, or other uniformed services.
    • Employers cannot deny such individuals any benefit of employment for reasons related to their service.
    • Veterans and certain other members of the uniformed services can reclaim their civilian employment after service or training.
    • Veterans receive preference in hiring from competitive lists and in retention during workforce reductions.

  1. Source: United States Department of Veteran Affairs website, www.va.gov.
  2. Source: New York State Division of Veterans' Affairs website, www.veterans.ny.gov.