South Carolina State Veterans Benefits
South Carolina provides its own state benefits to veterans, service members, and their families.
In addition to benefits available through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the State of South Carolina’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs offers many benefits to veterans. Here are the most common benefits offered by the the Office of Veterans’ Affairs.
State Employment Benefits
Preference for veterans in hiring for state positions is available for veterans with an honorable discharge who meet the skill requirements for the available position. Federal hiring preferences are also available.
Veterans retiring from state employment have the option to purchase an additional retirement credit of up to six years to increase their retirement benefit. For more information, contact State Retirement Systems at 803-737-6800.
State Veterans Nursing Homes
Admission to a South Carolina State Veterans Nursing Home is available for veterans:
- discharged under general or honorable conditions
- who are South Carolina Residents, and
- need “skilled or intermediate” care in a nursing home.
To learn more, including how to apply, call the Admissions Manager at (803) 737-5441 or (803) 737-5282. To learn about VA nursing homes, read Nolo's article Veterans Eligibility for VA Nursing Home Care.
College Tuition for Children of Veterans
Children of some disabled, deceased, or honored veterans are eligible for free tuition at state schools. Specifically, a child of a veteran can be eligible for free tuition at any state-supported educational institution if the child is age 26 or younger, is attending an undergraduate program, and is the child of a veteran who was honorably discharged, served during wartime, and meets one of the following requirements:
- was found permanently and totally disabled by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
- died during military service
- died of a service-connected disability
- was a prisoner of war
- is missing in action
- was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, or
- received a Purple Heart for wounds suffered in combat
State-supported institutions are listed on the tuition application form for this benefit and include technical colleges and universities.
What Is Wartime Service?
Service during wartime means service during:
- the Gulf War, from August 2, 1990 through the present
- the Vietnam war, between February 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975
- the Korean War, between June 27, 1950 and January 21, 1955, or
- World War I or World War II.
How to Apply for Free Tuition
You can find an application form at a county Veterans’ Affairs office, online, or by writing to SC Veterans Affairs at:
The Governor’s Office
Division of Veterans Affairs
VA Regional Office, Suite 1126,
6437 Garners Ferry Road,
Columbia, SC 29209
Or you can phone the Office of Veterans Affairs at (803)647-2434 and ask for an application and for information about documentation you will be required to submit, such as a certified copy of the veteran’s DD 214 discharge paperwork, when qualification is based on receipt of a Purple Heart or Medal of Honor.
Additional veterans educational benefits are available through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
South Carolina Military Family Relief Fund (SCMFRF): Cash Benefits for Families of Active Service Members
The South Carolina Military Family Relief Fund (SCMFRF) provides funds for the support of immediate family members of South Carolina residents who are currently serving in the National Guard or in the military and were called to active duty as a result of September 11, 2011. This means serving in the Armed Forces in Operation Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, or Iraqi Freedom or serving in the Guard or Reserve under Executive Order #13223, which was a Presidential Order calling the National Guard and Reserves into federal service.
If a service member receives a discharge under other than honorable conditions prior to the disbursement of funds, he or she is no longer eligible for the grant.
Three types of grants are available.
Service members and their family members are eligible for one status-based grant of $500 per year per call to active duty. The service member must be (or have been) on active duty for 30 days or more. Also, the service member’s rank must, at the time of mobilization, be no higher than O-3 or W-2. Eligibility is determined through residency and service information available in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) . Active duty members are automatically enrolled, but if a family member who wishes to file, the applicant must first register with DEERS.
To receive a needs-based grant of up to $2,000, a service member must meet the requirements for a status-based grant, above, and the military pay must be at least 30% less than the service member’s civilian pay. In addition, the family must demonstrate a financial need and explain what the funds will be used for. Families can apply for this grant more than once, but new applications after less than six months since a prior grant will not be considered.
You need to submit the Military Family Relief Fund Application along with:
- pay stubs to prove the 30% or more reduction in income
- proof of financial need, demonstrated by submission of bills or expenses
- a signed statement indicating what the funds will be used for
- proof of guardianship, if funds will be used for a dependent of the service member who is in the care of a guardian while the service member is in service.
Casualty Based Grant
Eligibility for a Casualty Based Grant of $1,000 requires meeting the eligibility requirements for the status-based grant, above, and one of the following:
- proof that the service member died from a service-connected disability
- a statement from the surviving family member that the deceased service member is a prisoner of war, or
- a statement from the surviving family member that the deceased service member was missing or action or killed in action.
The 30-day consecutive service requirement can be waived upon written request. For information about the waiver or how to complete the application, call the Office of Veterans’ Affairs at (803) 734-0200.
How to Apply
Applications for all Military Family Relief Fund grants are to be submitted by filling out the Military Family Relief Fund Application and sending it to:
South Carolina Division of Veterans’ Affairs
ATTN: SCMFRF Coordinator
1205 Pendleton Street, Ste. 369
Columbia, SC 29201
Questions about the application process can be directed to the Division of Veterans Affairs at (803) 734-0200 or on its website.
Veterans can get state tax exemptions for:
- limited amounts of military retirement pay ($3,000 per year until age 65, then $10,000 per year)
- the principal residence of the veteran (including up to one acre of land), if the veteran:
- is 100% disabled due to a service-connected disability
- is a former POW
- received the Medal of Honor, or
- lives in specially adapted housing due to paralysis from legs down or on one side of the body.
For the veteran’s principal residence, a Homestead Exemption, under which $50,000 of the property’s fair market value will be tax exempt, exempts the property from property tax.
Veterans who are residents of South Carolina are eligible for:
- free hunting and fishing licenses, if the veteran is disabled and presents proof of disability to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and
- free access to SC state parks, for veterans who are totally and permanently disabled and submit proof of disability.
A South Carolina State Cemetery burial is available for service members with an honorable discharge who were residents of South Carolina at the time of entry into service, at the time of death, or at any time for at least five years.
Family members of deceased South Carolina National Guardsmen are entitled to a state flag for use at burial. Call the State Adjutant General’s Office at (803) 734-0200 for more information.
Other State Benefits
A full list of all benefits conferred by the state of South Carolina on veterans who are residents of the state can be found on the South Carolina State Office of Veterans’ Affairs website.