If you live in “The Pine Tree State,” you may be among the 116,000 plus veteran population who reside in this region according to the VA. Find State of Maine and local veteran’s benefits including education, employment, healthcare, tax breaks/exemptions, recreation, and much more below.
Maine Veteran Education Benefits
State of Maine Veterans and Dependents Educational Benefits
Maine offers qualified state resident veterans and spouses a 100% waiver good for college tuition and fees. Qualifying criteria for the veteran include being VA-rated at 100% total, permanent disability, or a veteran who meets one of the following requirements:
- Was killed in action
- Died from a service-connected disability as a result of military service
- At the time of death was totally and permanently disabled due to a service-connected disability, even if the cause of death is not related to the service-connected disability; or
- Is a member of the Armed Forces on active duty who has been listed for more than 90 days as missing in action, captured or forcibly detained or interned in the line of duty.
Military spouses should know the criteria applies to the service member. If the veteran’s condition qualifies, the spouse can apply for this benefit.
State of Maine National Guard Tuition Assistance
LD 1612, the Maine state law passed in 2016 titled “An Act to Improve the Delivery of Services and Benefits to Maine’s Veterans and Provide Tuition Assistance to Members of the Maine National Guard.”
This law includes a 100% tuition waiver for Maine’s National Guard members applicable in all University of Maine, Maine Community College Systems, and the Maine Maritime Academy.
Maine Veteran Employment Benefits
The Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation has a program designed to “accelerate the licensing process” for veterans who are state residents. Expedited licensing is available for veterans with military training or experience in the following skill areas:
- Electrical systems
The state of Maine offers flexibility in evaluating and crediting military experience in these areas when the veteran needs to obtain a license or meet continuing education requirements. Depending on demand and other factors, certain skill areas may have state-sponsored licensing workshops for the purpose of training and providing same-day licensing options.
The Maine Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, (VR) is a Department of Labor program offering job placement and career management services to those with disabilities. This program is not limited to veterans, but any veteran who needs these services is eligible to apply. Qualifying criteria for this assistance basically includes:
- Having a disability that prevents obtaining or keeping a job.
- Needing VR services to find or keep a job.
The State of Maine accepts applications via the state Department of Labor official site.
Maine Veteran Housing Benefits
Veterans Assisted Care Homes and Nursing Homes
The State of Maine operates veterans’ homes in the following locations:
- South Paris
Eligibility requirements for admission into these homes includes an honorable discharge and residency. Veterans who were residents of Maine at the time of their entry into military service and those who are residents of Maine at the time of their application are eligible.
The official site for these nursing homes adds, “We also serve the spouses, widows or widowers and Gold Star parents of eligible veterans.”
Qualifying military service basically involves having served one or more days on active duty. There is no combat requirement for admission.
The types of care and level of care may vary depending on the location. But in general, Maine Veterans Homes offer skilled care, respite care, assisted living, dementia and memory care services.
Maine Veteran Financial Benefits
Maine Military Retirement Tax Exemption
As of 2016, all military pension benefits including survivor benefits are exempt from State of Maine income tax collection. Past restrictions on military retirement pay tax breaks in the state such as the “$35,000 Rule” and other regulations are no longer in effect. It was replaced by this 100% tax break on retirement pay for military service.
The State of Maine also offers veterans with civilian employee retirement plans the option to take advantage of a $10,000 pension exemption for qualifying retirement plans for federal civilian retirees who are also retired veterans.
The state defines “military retirement” or pension payments as those made by the federal Defense Finance and Accounting Service. Military pension benefits rolled over into any civilian retirement plans will be eligible for “only the $10,000 exemption” according to the State of Maine.
State of Maine Property Tax Exemption for Qualifying Veterans
Qualifying veterans aged 62 or older who apply in writing may be exempt from property taxes for up to $6,000 of the property’s value on primary residences used by the veteran as the home address.
Certain qualifying disabled veterans may also be eligible for more tax breaks on their homes. Paraplegic veterans may be eligible for an exemption from municipal property tax for up to $50,000 for “a specially adapted housing unit in the municipality where the veteran is a legal resident.” To qualify for this tax break the veteran must be VA-rated and have received a Specially Adapted Housing grant from the VA to modify a home to be more accessible.
Additional Maine Veteran Benefits
Driver License, ID Cards, and License Plates for Veterans
The State of Maine offers a Veteran designator on its state-issued ID cards and drivers’ licenses. Proof of active military service or honorable discharge is required at application time. Any change to a Maine driver’s license or ID card requested outside of ID renewal time will incur a small fee. In addition to proof of military service, proof of residency in Maine is also required.
Maine Gold Star Family License Plates
Families of those qualifying service members who died on duty are eligible to apply for Gold Star license plates issued by the State of Maine.
The rules for this program changed in 2015 to offer these license plates not just to the families of those who died in combat. It was extended to any family member “who dies while honorably serving as an active member of the United States Armed Forces who did not fit the gold star lapel button guidelines established in 10 United States Code, Section 1126.”
Gold Star family registration plates are also available for families who are described by the State of Maine as being “newly eligible.”
Maine Recreational Benefits for Veterans
The State of Maine offers a variety of recreational benefits for veterans. Disabled veterans with VA-disability ratings at 50% or higher are offered free licenses for a variety of hunting and trapping activities including archery, muzzle-load hunting, night hunting for certain breeds, and more. These licenses are offered to veterans who are residents of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire and are good for a lifetime as long as the veteran maintains residency.
All Maine vets with any discharge except dishonorable are offered free admission to Maine historic sites and state parks. Active duty Maine residents are offered discounts on hunting and fishing licenses and any military member or family stationed in Maine are offered discounted licenses regardless of residency status.
For all such benefits, supporting documentation such as discharge paperwork, current military orders, VA award letters, and other paperwork as required will need to be presented at application time or at the time of admission depending on the facility.
Burial Benefits for Veterans
There are four state-run veteran cemeteries in the state of Maine. Two are located in Augusta, one in Caribou, and another located in Springvale. These facilities are open to veterans, spouses, and dependents. There is no charge for burial regardless of whether the loved one is a veteran or family member.
Pre-need determination is encouraged. All supporting documentation including military discharge paperwork, marriage certificates, and similar documents will be required at application time.
The Maine veterans’ cemeteries do not provide vaults, but will provide “double-depth in-ground concrete liners” free of charge.
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