California Veterans Benefits

If you are a California veteran, there are a number of state and VA benefits available to you. The CA Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) has a variety of programs and services designed to help veterans and their families, including education assistance, employment resources, housing assistance, and more. 

In addition, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a range of benefits and services that may be helpful for California veterans. This article provides an overview of some of the key state and VA benefits available to California veterans.

California Veterans Employment Benefits

Employment benefits for veterans are among the top benefits categories that vary significantly by state. California veterans may count themselves lucky when looking for a new career, as the state offers plenty of benefits that should provide a competitive advantage in the job market. 

Finding jobs or looking for veterans to hire has been made easier by the state of California’s CalVet online resource. 

Below is an overview of what you’ll find available to California veterans. 

Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) Program

The Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise Program (DVBE Program) is a program established by the state of California to help small businesses owned and operated by disabled veterans compete more effectively for public contracts. This program offers veterans the opportunity to gain experience in business while sharing their expertise with the citizens of California. 

To qualify for this program, a veteran must be a resident of California and have a 10% disability rating. In addition, they must meet certain other requirements related to their business experience and financial status.

The DVBE Program provides many benefits to both veterans and the people of California. By helping veterans start and grow successful businesses, it helps them achieve financial independence and promotes self-reliance. At the same time, it allows these businesses to contribute their skills and expertise to the broader economy, helping drive economic growth and creating new jobs for all Californians. 

Overall, the DVBE Program is an important initiative supporting both veterans and the wider community by helping to create opportunities for success in business ownership for those who have served our country.

California Veterans Preference for State Jobs

The program for job preferences helps veterans maximize their employment and training opportunities. As stated by the California Employment Development Department, veterans are given a “24-hour priority hold on all job listings.” Another option is to make an appointment with a veterans’ representative who can help you achieve your professional goals. 

The Employment Development Department has a website that allows veterans to use their Military Occupational Specialty code—based on which branch of the military they served in—to search for jobs.

Apprenticeship Opportunities 

Apprenticeship programs provide an excellent opportunity for veterans to utilize their GI Bill benefits while gaining valuable, hands-on training in a skilled trade. This type of program typically lasts between six months and two years, during which participants receive both theoretical instruction and on-the-job training in a variety of occupations, such as aircraft mechanic, automotive technician, electrician, welder, medical secretary, police officer, paramedic, and others.

To participate in this program, the veteran and their employer must agree on a training plan of at least six months duration, during which they will receive support and guidance from an external organization, such as the California State Approving Agency for Veterans Education (CSSAVE).

To be eligible for this program, veterans must apply for educational benefits through the VA. During the training period, the employer must maintain work and training records and make regular evaluations of the trainee’s progress, as well as agree to offer at least one wage increase during this time. 

The veteran must also certify their monthly hours to the VA each month in order to receive financial assistance through the GI Bill benefits.

Department of Industrial Relations Apprenticeship For Veterans

The Department of Industrial Relations Apprenticeship offers a program that uses consultants to help veterans navigate these apprenticeship systems and get them started in the correct program. This can be a massive help to veterans because there are a number of apprenticeship programs in the state, and navigating the opportunities and requirements can be a daunting task. 

California VA Education Benefits

California veterans are eligible for a number of state education benefits. Financial education benefits can pay up to 100% of fees for veterans or survivors at most California Community Colleges and California State Universities.

The Non-Resident College Fee Waiver waives tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for non-resident veterans. To be eligible for the waiver, you are required to meet one of the several different qualifications which can be found at under the education section.

The state also built a tool to help veterans compare their options using the federal GI Bill benefits. 

California National Guard Education Assistance Award Program (CNGEAAP)

CNGEAAP is a financial assistance program designed to help members of the California National Guard and State Military Reserve pursue higher education. 

Under this program, qualifying members can receive awards that cover up to 100% of tuition fees at universities and colleges throughout California, including the Universities of California, California State Universities, and California Community Colleges. Additionally, these awards can be used for eligible programs at other institutions, such as proprietary schools and public colleges. 

College Fee Waiver for Dependents 

The College Fee Waiver for Veteran Dependents benefit is a California program providing financial assistance to the dependents of veterans, allowing them to attend college at any state-supported school in the community, university, or college system in California. 

This program works by waiving mandatory tuition and fees at these schools, although it does not cover other costs like books, parking fees, or room and board. 

There are four different programs under which dependents of veterans may be eligible for this fee waiver: Plan A through Plan D. To qualify for one of these programs, dependents must meet specific eligibility requirements related to their military service history and family status.

California Military Tax Exemptions

Taxes on Military Disability Retirement Pay

Disability retirement pay for veterans in California is a type of benefit paid out to individuals who have suffered from disabilities or injuries as a result of their time serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Unlike regular retirement pay, which is generally considered taxable income, disability retirement pay for veterans in California is typically not subject to taxation, as it is considered to be a form of compensation for personal injury or sickness resulting from active military service. This can include disability compensation and pension payments, grants for homes designed for wheelchair living, and benefits under a dependent-care assistance program.

Veterans Property Tax Exemption

This exemption provides a $4,000 deduction from the taxable value of a home owned and occupied by a veteran who was honorably discharged from active service. To be eligible for this exemption, the veteran must own property worth less than $5,000 if they are single or $10,000 if they are married. In addition, the claimant must have lived in California on January 1 of the tax year for which they are applying. 

Disabled Veterans and Veterans Property Tax Exemption

The disabled veterans’ property tax exemption is a California program providing reduced property tax liability on the principal place of residence of qualified veterans who have been rated 100% disabled or are being compensated at the 100% rate due to unemployability. 

Additionally, surviving spouses of qualifying veterans may also be eligible for this exemption. Overall, the purpose of this exemption is to provide financial relief for disabled veterans and their families by reducing their property tax liability, making it easier for them to afford their homes.

California Veteran Housing Assistance

CalVet Home Loans 

CalVet Home Loans is a benefit available to eligible California veterans looking to purchase a home. There is no down payment requirement, which makes them a great option for veterans who are just starting out and may not yet have much in savings. In addition, the eligibility requirements have been expanded, so nearly any California veteran can take advantage of these home loans. If you are new to the home-buying process, the CalVet website provides all the information you need to understand how the loans work and what steps you need to take in order to secure one. 

Veterans Homes of California (VHC)

California provides excellent long-term care centers and homes for aged and disabled veterans. These facilities provide highly trained staff in home-like environments where quality of life is a high priority. 

The facilities offer five levels of care:

  1. Independent living
  2. Residential care—assisted living
  3. Intermediate nursing care
  4. Skilled nursing care
  5. Memory care

VHC locations are in Barstow, Chula Vista, Fresno, Lancaster, Redding, Ventura, West Los Angeles, and Yountville. Each of the locations has an outpatient clinic.

Eligibility for care at the VHC includes meeting the following requirements:

  • Veteran on duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and received an Honorable or Under Honorable Conditions Discharge
  • Aged 55 or older
  • California Resident at the time of application

California Veterans Recreation Benefits

Recreational benefits for veterans are often given little attention, but military veterans enjoy some of the best recreational benefits available, including licensing, fee waivers, and permanent state park passes. We’ll cover some of them here to ensure you’re getting the best experience with no hassle.

Disabled veterans with a service connected disability rating from the VA of 50% or greater can purchase reduced-fee sport fishing or hunting licenses. You must provide a letter certifying an honorable discharge and disability rating of 50% or greater.

Distinguished Veterans Lifetime Parks Pass

Licensing for hunting and fishing may take some effort in California, but for California’s state parks, distinguished veterans can enjoy the Distinguished Veteran Pass, which authorizes the use of all basic facilities during the day, as well as camping and boating at the state parks at no charge. 

Veterans Affairs Benefits for California Veterans

The United States offers one of the most robust benefits and assistance programs in the world, offering support for veterans suffering from long-term chronic illnesses or injuries, mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and more. 

If you are a veteran, you may be eligible for benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides assistance nationwide to eligible service members. Additionally, VA benefits may change over time, so it’s important to stay up-to-date on any changes to your eligibility or available services. 

Whether you want help accessing VA healthcare services, housing assistance, job training programs, or other support programs, there are a variety of VA resources available to help you reach your goals. 

How to Know If You Qualify and File a Claim

There is plenty of information online about what qualifies a veteran for disability benefits (unfortunately, some of this information isn’t true). The best approach is to use official channels for basic information like the Veterans Affairs disability web page. 

When you are ready, the first step is to file for disability benefits. However, preparing for the application can be complicated.

Below are some of the items you’ll need to include:

  • VA medical and hospital records
  • Private records 
  • Supporting documents from those close to you, including family, friends, clergy members, or those you served with

These documents can help tell your story of when your injuries occurred and how they changed over time. Here is a list of the evidence needed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. 

How Do I Know If I am Eligible for Veterans Benefits?

To receive benefits, you must have served for the minimum period and have a discharge other than dishonorable. If you’re unsure about your eligibility for benefits, you may get help from an accredited representative for VA-related claims. 

You can also visit your state’s veteran’s agency, the veteran’s assistance website, or call the VA at 1-877-222-8387.

How Tuley Law Can Help California Veterans 

If you’re struggling to receive benefits as a veteran—including proving disability—the best course of action is to talk to a lawyer at Tuley Law Office.

Fill out our website’s contact form to speak with one of our attorneys today about maximizing your California veteran benefits for you and your family.