Pennsylvania State Veterans Benefits

Pennsylvania supplements VA benefits with some generous benefits for Pennsylvania veterans.

In addition to benefits available to veterans through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veterans Affairs provides some worthwhile benefits to veterans and their families.

Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans' Bonus Program 

Pennsylvania provides payments to Persian Gulf veterans who served in Operation Desert Storm or Desert Shield. Bonuses can be requested until the application deadline of August 31, 2015. In a lump-sum payment, the bonus provides $75 for each month (or nearly full month) of active duty service, up to a maximum amount of $525. If the veteran was a prisoner of war (POW), a $5,000 bonus is added.

If the veteran has passed away, his or her family members are eligible for the bonus, in addition to a one-time benefit of $5,000 if the service member died while on active service or died as a result of service-connected injuries or illnesses sustained during active service.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility for the bonus requires that the veteran:

  • served in the armed forces, reserve, or Pennsylvania National Guard
  • performed active duty between August 2, 1990 to August 31, 1991 in Operation Desert Shield or Desert Storm
  • received the Southwest Asia Service Medal
  • if not still on active duty, was discharged under honorable conditions, and
  • had legal residency in Pennsylvania at the time of active duty service.

How to Apply for the Bonus

Complete the Persian Gulf Veterans Benefit Program application. Use the PG-1 Short Form if you are filing the application for yourself. If you are a surviving family member or are filling out the application for an incompetent veteran, use the PG-1 Long Form.

Mail the application to:

Persian Gulf Conflict Veterans’ Benefit Program
Building S-0-47, Ft Indiantown Gap
Annville, PA 17003-5002

Veterans Emergency Assistance

The Veterans Emergency Assistance program provides temporary financial assistance to veterans. This assistance can be provided for a maximum of three months a year. It is available to surviving widows and dependents as well as veterans, and it provides for urgent life needs such as food, clothing, shelter, and fuel. The amount of assistance varies by county. You can review the payment rates online to see what amount is provided by your county.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility for emergency assistance requires that the veteran:

  • served during a period of war or received an Armed forces or Navy Expeditionary Medal
  • received an honorable discharge
  • is a resident of Pennsylvania
  • lost income unexpectedly in the 180 days preceding the application and the veteran was not responsible for the income loss
  • is not receiving public assistance, and
  • can demonstrate financial need.

A surviving spouse or widow is also eligible when the veteran has died recently and would have qualified for the program prior to death.

How to Apply for Emergency Assistance

Contact your County Veterans Affairs Director for information about how to apply.

Educational Help for Children

Children of disabled or deceased veterans can be eligible for a payment for a tuition gratuity of up to $500 per semester. Payments are issued directly to the educational institution.

Eligibility for the gratuity requires that the veteran parent:

  • is totally and permanently disabled due to service-connected disabilities incurred during wartime, or
  • died while serving during wartime or in an armed conflict, or
  • died of service-connected disabilities incurred during wartime.

Eligible children must:

  • be between 16 and 23 years old
  • have been living in Pennsylvania for the preceding five years, and
  • be attending a school in Pennsylvania.

Contact your County Veterans Affairs Director for information about how to apply.

Pensions for Veterans With Vision Loss, Amputations, or Paralysis

The following pensions can be in addition to VA disability compensation or Social Security disability benefits.

Blind Veterans Pension

Pennsylvania offers a pension of $150 per month to blind veterans. Eligibility for the pension requires that the veteran:

  • served in the U.S. Armed Forces or in a women’s organization formally affiliated with the U.S. Armed Forces
  • was discharged under honorable conditions
  • was a resident of Pennsylvania upon entry into service
  • suffered an injury or illness during service that caused vision loss, and
  • has vision in the better eye with a corrective lens that is 3/60 or 10/200 or less.

Contact your County Veterans Affairs Director for information about how to apply for the blind veterans pension.

Paralyzed Veterans Pension

Pennsylvania offers a pension of $150 per month to paralyzed veterans. Eligibility for the pension requires that the veteran:

  • was discharged under honorable conditions
  • was a resident in Pennsylvania at the time of entry into service
  • is currently a resident in Pennsylvania
  • had an injury or illness that caused the loss of at least two extremities – hands, arms, legs, or feet – or the loss of use of at least two of these extremities.

Contact your County Veterans Affairs Director for information about how to apply for the paralyzed veterans pension.

Real Estate Tax Exemption

Pennsylvania offers an exemption from real estate taxes for the land and building that serves as a veterans principal place of residence. Eligibility requires that the veteran:

  • is 100% disabled due to service-connected disabilities incurred during wartime service
  • is the sole owner of the home or owns it jointly with a spouse, and
  • has a financial need for the tax exemption, as determined by the State Veterans Commission.

A surviving spouse who has not remarried is eligible to continue to receive the exemption on the basis of financial need.

Preference in State Hiring

Veterans are eligible to receive preference in state hiring in Pennsylvania. If a veteran passes a civil service appointment test, ten points will be added to their score. Eligibility requires that the veteran:

  • completed his or her term of military service
  • was honorably discharged prior to taking the civil service exam, and
  • one of the following:

    • met a military commitment in the U.S. Armed Forces before July 27, 1953
    • served in the U.S. Armed Forces since July 27, 1953 (includes the completion of basic training), or
    • served in the Guard or Reserve (includes completion of basic training) and:

      • completed the first term of service, or,
      • completed at least one period of service other than for training since August 2, 1990.

If after taking the civil service exam and having the ten points added to the score, a veteran is among the top three candidates for an appointment, the veteran will be given mandatory hiring preference over non-veterans.

Applying for the Veterans Preference

To apply for veterans preference for a state job, submit your DD-214 or discharge certificate along with your job application. If you do not have a discharge certificate, submit other military paperwork that shows the date you went into service, that you completed basic training, the character of your discharge, and that you completed your term of military service.

Who to Contact With Questions

Call the State Civil Service Commission at (717) 787-6039 with questions about your eligibility, required discharge documentation, or other questions. You can also email or write to:

Veterans’ Preference
Eligible List Maintenance Section
State Civil Service Commission
P.O. Box 569
Harrisburg, PA 17108-0569

Other Veterans Benefits

Learn about other Pennsylvania benefits by reading the Guide to Pennsylvania Veterans Benefits and about federal benefits by visiting Nolo's section on veterans benefits.

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