California Veterans Benefits


Approximately 1.8 million U.S. military veterans live in California, more than any other state. California’s veteran population is 8% of the total U.S. veteran population. Los Angeles County has the most veterans (over 300,000) followed by San Diego County and Riverside County. Are you or a loved one a California veteran? There are various benefits for California’s veterans, including both state and federal benefits.

California Veterans Wartime Service

California veterans have served in all major wars, including the Gulf War, Vietnam War, Korean War and World War II. 

The Gulf War was a military conflict that started in August of 1990 when Iraqi president Saddam Hussein invaded and occupied Kuwait. The U.S. responded with Operation Desert Shield, a coalition of 35 nations organized to liberate Kuwait and defend Saudi Arabia.  In January 1991, the U.S. initiated an air offensive known as Operation Desert Storm. President George W. Bush declared a cease-fire a month later. A second Gulf War – the Iraq War – began in 2003.

The Vietnam War was a conflict that took place in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from November 1, 1955, to April 30, 1975. Over 9 million military personnel served on active duty during the Vietnam era. Today, there are approximately 7 million living Vietnam-era veterans.  Nearly 600,000 Vietnam veterans reside in California, the highest number of any state. The California Vietnam Veterans Memorial, located in Sacramento, is dedicated to California veterans who served during the conflict from 1965 to 1975. 

The Korean War was a conflict between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Approximately 6.8 million U.S. military personnel served during the war from June 27,1950 to January 31, 1955.  Today there are over 1 million Korean War veterans living in the U.S.A. In 2020, their median age was 85. Approximately 100,000 Korean War veterans currently live in California.

World War II was a global war that took place from 1939 to 1945. Sixteen million Americans served on active military duty during the war. Today there are only 300,000 World War II veterans are still alive. In 2018, there were around 50,000 World War II veterans living in California.

State Benefits for California Veterans

California veterans may be eligible for various state benefits such as:

  • Tax benefits for business license, tax and fee waiver; property tax exemptions, itinerant veteran vendor and nonprofit organizations.
  • College fee waiver for Veteran Dependents – for community colleges, State universities and University of California campuses.
  • State parks and recreation pass – for disabled vets, POWs and Medal of Honor recipients.
  • License plates – with the armed forces of veterans’ service organization logo of your choice.
  • Licenses for fishing and hunting – reduced fee licenses for disabled vets

Federal Veterans Benefits

California veterans may be eligible for federal veterans benefits including health care, disability compensation and pensions.

Health Care Benefits – The Veterans Administration (VA) provides health care for qualified U.S. military veterans, including California veterans. Types of health care services include treatment for injuries and illnesses, along with dental care, vision care, and mental health services.

To be eligible for VA health care, the veteran must has served on active duty and received an anything other than dishonorable discharge.

When you enroll in the VA health care system, you are assigned to a group.  Which group you are put in depends on your military service, disability rating, income level, and several other factors. These groups are priority groups, meaning they establish the veteran’s level of need and types of health care benefits the veteran receives.

VA Disability Compensation – Disability compensation is a monthly tax-free benefit paid to veterans who became disabled due to an injury or illness that occurred while serving in the military, and the disability has impaired their earning ability. VA disability is also paid to veterans with certain health conditions believed to be caused by their service. Veterans who apply for disability compensation receive a rating based on the seriousness of their condition.

To qualify for disability compensation, veterans, including California veterans,must have served on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. Other requirements include:

  • The veteran became sick or injured while on active duty
  • The veteran had an illness or injury before joining the military and it got worse while in the military
  • The disability occurred after leaving the service and is service-connected (related to or caused by their service in the military)

Veterans may be eligible for additional monthly payments for Aid & Attendance and Housebound benefits if they qualify.  

VA Pension – A VA pension is another type of monthly monetary benefit. It is paid to wartime veterans and their spouses who are either low income or need long-term care. The benefit is also referred to as a Veterans Pension for living veterans and Survivors Pension for surviving spouses.

To qualify for a pension, the veteran must have served at least 90 days of active duty, with at least 1 day during a wartime period as follows:

World War II: December 7, 1941, through December 31, 1946

Korean Conflict: June 27, 1950, through January 31, 1955

Vietnam War era: November 1, 1955, through May 7, 1975, for veterans who served in the Republic of Vietnam during that period, and August 5, 1964, through May 7, 1975, for veterans who served anywhere in the world.

Gulf War: August 2, 1990, through a date to be prescribed by Presidential proclamation or law.

In addition to wartime service, the veteran must:

  • Have received an honorable or anything other than dishonorable discharge
  • Be 65 years of age or older (no age requirement for a spouse)

The amount of your VA pension is determined by the Maximum Amount of Pension Payable (MAPR) and your countable income. Your MAPR is based on whether you are a single or married veteran, with or without children or other dependents. You must also meet the VA’s asset requirements.

Aid and Attendance

California veterans and their spouses who need long-term care can also receive additional payments added to the VA pension through an enhanced pension called Aid and Attendance. The Aid and Attendance benefit is a reimbursement for care, including home care, adult day care, board and care, assisted living and skilled nursing. Home care can be provided by a family member or professional caregiver.

The maximum monthly Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit amounts are:

Surviving Spouse$1,318 Monthly – $15,816 Annually
Single Veteran$2,050 Monthly – $24,610 Annually
Married Veteran$2,431 Monthly – $29,175 Annually
Two Vets Married$3,261 Monthly – $39,036 Annually

A key requirement for the Aid and Attendance benefit, is that the veteran or spouse must need assistance with personal care such as bathing, dressing, mobility, toileting and eating.

Additional Aid and Attendance requirements include:

  • Have a permanent or total disability; or
  • You are a patient with a disability in a long-term care nursing home; or
  • You currently receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security Income.
  • You meet the VA’s income and asset criteria.

If you would like to find out more about the Aid and Attendance benefit, please call one of our consultants today at 877-427-8065 or click here.

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