FREE PARK ADMISSION FOR DISABLED VETERANS
Free admission to Texas State Parks is available
to any veteran who has a service-connected disability, which is rated 60% or more by VA, or a service-connected disability,
which has resulted in the loss of a lower extremity. Application may be made at the headquarters office of any Texas State
park by providing satisfactory evidence of service-connected disability. If such evidence is not readily available, it can
be obtained from the VA regional office where the claims folder is located. The Texas State Parklands Passport is available
to any veteran who meets the disability requirements, whether or not he or she resides in Texas. The Passport provides only
free admission to the State parks, and does not exempt anyone from payment of other charges, such as camping fees, etc.
FREE RECORDING OF DISCHARGES
Under Texas State law, Local Government Code Sec. 0192.002, the County Clerk in
each County is required to record, free of charge, the official discharge of each veteran who served in the Armed Forces of
the United States of America. This free service is very important as it provides veterans with a ready source from
which they can obtain a certified copy of their discharge whenever it is needed. It is the veteran's responsibility to have the DD214 or Discharge recorded. Please also note that if you recorded
your DD214 with the County Clerk before Sept. 1, 2003, it became a public record. A veteran may direct, in writing,
that the county clerk destroy all copies of the record that the county clerk makes available to the public as required by
section 191.006 of the Local Government Code. Discharges recorded after Sept. 1, 2003 remain confidential for 75 years following
the date of recordation.
TAX EXEMPTION FOR VETERANS
Disabled veterans who meet certain requirements, their surviving spouses and the spouses and minor
children of a person who dies on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible for property tax exemptions on the appraised
value of their property. The exemption is mandatory and applies to taxes levied by all taxing authorities in the State. A
veteran, whose service-connected disabilities are rated less than 10% by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or a branch of
the Armed Forces, is not entitled to a property tax exemption.
SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES
Disabled Veterans, Former Prisoners of
War, Pearl Harbor Survivors, Purple Heart and Medal of Honor plates are among the special license plates available to eligible
veterans and their survivors for personal use on their automobile or light commercial vehicle of one ton or less. Disabled
veterans must have a service-connected disability rating of 50% or more or 40% due to amputation of a lower extremity. Former
prisoners of war are eligible if they were captured or incarcerated by an enemy of the United States during a period of conflict
with the United States and at the time of the capture, were citizens of the United States. Eligibility is for both former
members of the Armed Forces and civilian U.S. citizens who were captured by an enemy of our government. For further information,
contact either the nearest vehicle title registration office or your county tax office.
PARKING PRIVILEGES for Veterans with Disabilities.
displaying disabled plates,
disabled veteran plates or permits are the only vehicles
allowed to park in spaces clearly marked for the disabled. In some parking lots, the disabled spaces are colored red and others
are marked in the traditional blue color. People who have a blue disabled parking
permit or disabled veteran license plates can park
in either the red or blue spaces. Those with a red disabled permit are only to park in the red spaces. If the parking lot
ONLY has blue-colored spaces, then it is permissible for those with red permits to park in those spaces. (Information provided by the Texas Department of Transportation.)
The voters of Texas, passed Proposition 2
this past November, expanding the legislation that entitles a surviving spouse of a 100% disabled Veteran, a total exemption of Homestead property taxes. Surviving Spouses of a Veteran who was rated as 100% Service Connected Disabled or compensated at the 100% rate due to Individual Unemployability by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at the time of their death, may qualify. The prior state law required the Veteran’s death to have occurred on January
1, 2010 or after. The expansion of this law includes those Veteran deaths that occurred in 2009 and before. This law also
expands to Surviving Spouses of a member of the Armed Services killed in action. The new law will take effect January 1, 2016,
and applies only to a tax year beginning on or after that date.
Requirements to qualify for
the exemption are:
- The property was the surviving spouse’s homestead when the Veteran died;
- The property remains the surviving spouse’s homestead (there are provisions if the property was sold
and another property purchased); and
- The surviving spouse has not remarried since the death
of the disabled Veteran or member of the armed services;
- Veteran must have had a combined service
connected disability rating and compensated at the 100% rate or compensated at the 100% rate due to Individual Unemployability for service connected disabilities by the VA.
Surviving Spouses who believe they may be entitled to this new benefit should contact their VSO or call 1-800-827-1000.
Free Legal Aid
Low income military veterans, their dependents and surviving spouses may be eligible for free civil legal services
through Lone Star Legal Aid's Military and Veterans Unit. Those who have served in the military; married
to a veteran or are the surviving spouse of a veteran; or are the child or other dependent of a veteran and currently depend
on that veteran for support can apply for support through the program. Applicants must meet income and asset based criteria,
as the program is geared towards those with low incomes and limited assets. Lone Star
Legal Aid is able to assist with noncriminal legal issues involving veteran benefits, bankruptcy, custody and child support,
consumer issues, divorce and family law, education, employment, housing and Medicare and Medicaid. Interested
applicants may call 1-844-400-VETS from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or apply by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.