Larry E. Bennett Post 255

POST 255 SERVICE OFFICER

MILTON IRONFIELD

Article Posted April 2024 (Continue down this page for more articles posted by month)

Tax Season deadline is April 15th - Free Filing:
Note:  VA pension and benefits are tax free. Retirement income is not.
Most with an AGI under $79,000 can file for free at MilTax or IRS Free File. State filing is separate.
https://www.militaryonesource.mil/financial-legal/taxes/miltax-military-tax-services/
https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free
Use CalFile to e-file your state tax return directly to the Franchise Tax Board. Get real-time confirmation and the fastest refund possible. And best of all, it’s free.
https://www.ftb.ca.gov/file/ways-to-file/online/calfile/index.asp
Medal of Honor Day was March 25th
https://www.cmohs.org/medal/medal-of-honor-day-information
Our Veterans Museum at Balboa Park is currently closed due to rain damage, but, please consider supporting and visiting when it reopens in April.  
https://veteranmuseum.net/  
If you would like to verify your VA burial eligibility and plan your benefits in advance…
https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/pre-need-eligibility
The program allows veterans and their spouse to confirm eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery and begin planning.

Article Posted March 2024 (Continue down this page for more articles posted by month)

Tax Season - Free File for Vets 

(...and most everyone else)

Note:  VA benefits are tax free.
Most with an AGI under $79,000 can file for free at MilTax or IRS Free File.
https://www.militaryonesource.mil/financial-legal/taxes/miltax-military-tax-services/
https://www.irs.gov/filing/free-file-do-your-federal-taxes-for-free

Charity of the Month

WheelchairsForWarriors.org
Provides veterans and first responders who have been critically injured the line of duty with customized mobility solutions (wheelchairs) that meet their physical and lifestyle needs to ensure our warriors rejoin their lives at the highest level of independence and freedom possible. 

Balboa Park Museums
Regular discount for Veterans and Seniors is about 20%.  Some offer free admission each month for residents.  https://balboapark.org/resident-free-days
1st Tuesday:  Fleet Science Center, Natural History Museum, Model Railroad Museum
2nd Tuesday:  Air & Space Museum, Veterans Museum (regular $5)
3rd Tuesday:  Museum of Art, Japanese Garden, Mingei International Museum
4th Tuesday:  Automotive Museum
Check out Balboa Park’s Museums and activities:  balboapark.org
40+ Free Things to Do in Balboa Park:  https://lajollamom.com/free-things-to-do-in-balboa-park/

Article Posted February 2024

Free Backcountry Expeditions for Veterans

https://nobarriersusa.org/programs/warriors/
Veterans with disabilities, seen and unseen, can apply now for No Barriers Warriors' programs including expeditions in Colorado, Wyoming and North Carolina.

WW2 Veterans Eligible for Free VA Health Care
Veterans who served in the U.S. military between Dec. 7, 1941, and Dec. 31, 1946, are now eligible for VA health care benefits, including nursing home care.

Free year of LinkedIn Premium

https://news.va.gov/61535/veterans-transitioning-military-get-free-year-linkedin-premium
https://www.linkedin.com/learning/linkedin-for-veterans-2
LinkedIn offers Veterans a free 1-year premium career subscription, including year of access to LinkedIn Learning. Veterans can use LinkedIn Learning to take more than 16,000 courses like software development, graphic design, leadership, data science, photography, and more for almost every professional skill.

Employment Services: In partnership with the Department of Labor, VA provides support to Veterans and transitioning service members at all stages of their job search, including career advice, resume building, and access to employers who want to hire Veterans and military spouses.
www.va.gov/careers-employment/ and www.va.gov/vre.

Veterans’ Compensation COLA Act of 2023

The legislation signed on June 14, 2023, promises that most VA benefits, including disability compensation and survivors’ support, will see automatic cost-of-living hikes starting in 2024, equal to that of Social Security payouts. Previously the Social Security hikes were automatic, but Congress had to set and approve the veterans hikes each year and veteran’s benefits didn’t always keep up.
https://www.legion.org/news/259244/veterans-see-cost-living-boost-their-benefits.

Presidential Pardon on Marijuana Possession, Attempted Possession, and Use
https://www.justice.gov/pardon/presidential-proclamation-marijuana-possession
President Biden issued a proclamation that pardoned many federal offenses involving simple marijuana possession and use.

Article Posted November 2023 UPGRADE YOUR JOB

UPGRADE YOUR JOB

VA - Connect the Vets

1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month, 9am-11am

Meet with EDD and VA reps at the La Jolla VA Center

https://www.va.gov/san-diego-health-care/events/

Veterans Preference for Federal Jobs:

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/veterans-services/vet-guide-for-hr-professionals/#2

Veterans who are have a 0% rating or served on active duty during certain specified time periods are entitled to preference for Federal jobs vice, or their spouse if the vet is unable to work due to the service-connected disability.

Employment Preference for California Veterans

https://www.calhr.ca.gov/Documents/CalHR-1093.pdf

California also grants hiring preference with basic service requirements.

Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) is an appointing (hiring) authority that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) can give to Federal agencies for filling vacancies when a critical hiring need or severe shortage of candidates exists.

U.S. Department of Labor

https://www.careeronestop.org/Veterans

Vet’s preferences, apprenticeships, and other resources.

VA - Connect the Vets

1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month, 9am-11am

Meet with EDD and VA reps at the La Jolla VA Center

https://www.va.gov/san-diego-health-care/events/

Article Posted October 2023 UPGRADE YOUR JOB

Veterans Preference for Federal Jobs:

https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/veterans-services/vet-guide-for-hr-professionals/#2

Veterans who are have a 0% rating or served on active duty during certain specified time periods are entitled to preference for Federal jobs vice, or their spouse if the vet is unable to work due to the service-connected disability.

 

Employment Preference for California Veterans

https://www.calhr.ca.gov/Documents/CalHR-1093.pdf

California also grants hiring preference with basic service requirements.

 

Direct-Hire Authority (DHA) is an appointing (hiring) authority that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) can give to Federal agencies for filling vacancies when a critical hiring need or severe shortage of candidates exists.

 

U.S. Department of Labor

https://www.careeronestop.org/Veterans

Vet’s preferences, apprenticeships, and other resources.

Article Posted September 2023

Veteran Readiness and Employment (VR&E)  

www.va.gov/vre (800-827-1000)

Vets with a 30% rating or 20% rating with employment handicap, and within 12 years of active discharge, or the date VA awards service-connected disability. Does not count against GI Bill entitlement.

-Opportunities for direct hire placement into government agencies.

-Education & Training

VA pays the cost of up to 2 years training or education plus housing allowance. 

-Special Employer Incentive Program (SEI)

+Program for employers covers costs of hiring V&RE Vets.  

+ 50% of salary for 6 months.

+ training, uniforms, tools

+ workplace accommodations 

-On the Job Training (OJT) Program:

Employers hire Vets at apprentice wage, and VA supplements up to the journey-man wage. Pays for necessary tools and equipment to support reasonable accommodations. 

-Non-Paid Work Experience (NPWE):

Get job experience in a govt agency (fed, state, county, city, local) for Vets with vocational goal or difficulties obtaining employment due to lack of work experience. Build your resume and search for jobs while you train.

Article Posted August 2023

www.CalVet.ca.gov

Assistance with Education - Employment - Healthcare - Home Loans - Housing - Advocacy - VA Claims. Also has TAP classes online, feel free to redo any TAP missed during out-processing or just because you want some updates to various programs. I recommend you check it out and register to get occasional email updates.

VetTix.org

The Veteran Tickets Foundation provides tickets to all branches of currently-serving Military and Veterans, including immediate family of troops KIA. Vet Tix secures tickets to sporting events, concerts, performing arts, educational and family activities across the nation. VetTixers sign up online. We verify their service. VetTixers request tickets to events that interest them, then pay a small delivery fee to receive their free tickets. I haven't tried it yet but it looks like availability is pretty random so you need to check often. But there are a couple of comedy clubs in San Diego have regular offers. 

And some GOOD news! -Veterans’ Compensation COLA Act of 2023

The legislation signed on June 14, 2023, promises that most VA benefits, including disability compensation and survivors’ support, will see automatic cost-of-living hikes starting in 2024, equal to that of Social Security payouts. Previously the Social Security hikes were automatic, but Congress had to set and approve the veterans hikes each year and veteran’s benefits didn’t always keep up.

https://www.legion.org/news/259244/veterans-see-cost-living-boost-their-benefits

Article Posted April 2023

When can you get VA Dental Coverage?
https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/dental-care/
Partial VA dental coverage:
•  For a service-connected dental condition or dental care needed in relation to treating another service-connected condition.

Full VA covered dental care:  
•  Have a 100% VA rating

 

VA dental insurance option (VADIP) - also covers dependents
https://www.va.gov/health-care/about-va-health-benefits/dental-care/dental-insurance/
•  similar in cost and benefits as most employer plans
•  must be enrolled in VA health care or CHAMPV

VA Homeless Veterans Dental Program
•  to relieve pain and treat gum infections
•  to help you get a job

Article Posted April 2023

Free Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Vets & Spouses
patriotbootcamp.org
DAV Patriot Boot Camp is an intensive training program for Veterans to pursue dreams of founding a venture. There is no cost for registration or participation beyond personal travel-related expenses and lodging.

Free Business Start-up Training
https://www.warriorrising.org/
Are you a Veteran with aspirations of entrepreneurship and business ownership?  

IRS Free File
If you made $69,000 or less during 2019, you qualify for free brand-name software offered through a partnership between the IRS and leading tax software providers.
https://clark.com/personal-finance-credit/taxes/free-tax-filing-services/
https://www.aarp.org/money/taxes/aarp_taxaide/

Article Posted March 2023

PACT Act is Simple

                Generally, the VA requires you to prove a condition was service connected.  The PACT Act changes this.  If you served during certain periods in certain locations, and later contract one of the dozens of conditions linked to toxic exposure such as proximity to burn pits or agent orange, the VA will assume that you are service connected without requiring further evidence.

                The VA also reminds vets to be cautious of scammers claiming to represent the VA or assist with filing claims.  You can easily register yourself online at VA.gov, at any Regional Office, or by phone 1-800-827-1000.  If you are not sure you qualify, then go through the registration process to find out. 


Special Credits to Social Security for Military Service
http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/military.htm

Since 1957, military have paid into Social Security retirement benefits.  Through 2001, military service was also awarded bonus credits.  Earned income plus the credits determine our SSA retirement pay.  Since 1968, credits should be automatic.  For credits prior to 1968, you will need to provide your DD 214 when you apply for SSA retirement.  If you have any doubt, check to ensure you received the credits.

Article Posted February 2023

Balboa Park Museums

https://balboapark.org/resident-free-days

 

Regular discount for Veterans and Seniors is about 20%.  Some offer free admission each month for residents.

1st Tuesday:  Fleet Science Center, Natural History Museum, Model Railroad Museum
2nd Tuesday:  Air & Space Museum, Veterans Museum (regular $5)
3rd Tuesday:  Museum of Art, Japanese Garden, Mingei International Museum
4th Tuesday:  Automotive Museum

Check out Balboa Park’s Museums and activities:  balboapark.org
40+ Free Things to Do in Balboa Park:  https://lajollamom.com/free-things-to-do-in-balboa-park/

Special Credits to Social Security for Military Service
http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/military.htm

Since 1957, military have paid into Social Security retirement benefits.  Through 2001, military service was also awarded bonus credits.  Earned income plus the credits determine our SSA retirement pay.  Since 1968, credits should be automatic.  For credits prior to 1968, you will need to provide your DD 214 when you apply for SSA retirement.  If you have any doubt, check to ensure you received the credits.

Article Posted January 2023

Free lifetime Military Pass Entrance to National Parks for Gold Star Families and Veterans

The free annual Military Pass is available for current US military members and their dependents covers entrance fees and standard amenity fees.  There is also a pass for Seniors and disabled persons. $10 processing fee online or free in person at sites that issue passes.

https://store.usgs.gov/recreational-passes

Free California State Park Lifetime Pass

Eligibility:  50% VA rating, POW, or Medal of Honor.

https://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=30958

Discounted CA Sport Fishing and Hunting Licenses for Disabled and Recovering Vets 50% rating or service members undergoing medical treatment while recovering from a severe service-related injury or illness. Apply with your VA certification or treatment letter from your commander or military doctor via mail.  You can also request a secure document upload to LRB@wildlife.ca.gov.  Once established, you can purchase at any licensing location

Article Posted November 2022

VA Survivors Pension:

Offers monthly payments to survivors of wartime veterans who meet needs-based income limits, for spouses, not remarried, and unmarried dependent children under 18 or in school to age 23.  The calculations are complicated but we can review your situation and assist with the application.  You will need to gather documents to verify income (including social security), assets, and debts.  https://www.va.gov/pension/survivors-pension

Article Posted December 2022

VA Survivors Pension:

Offers monthly payments to survivors of wartime veterans who meet needs-based income limits, for spouses, not remarried, and unmarried dependent children under 18 or in school to age 23.  The calculations are complicated but we can review your situation and assist with the application.  You will need to gather documents to verify income (including social security), assets, and debts.  https://www.va.gov/pension/survivors-pension

Article Posted October 2022

New myPay for Gray Area Retirees

https://www.dfas.mil/grayarea

Gray Area Retirees are members who served in the Guard or Reserves and qualified for retired pay and have retired from their service, but are not yet at the age where they can start receiving retired pay, and includes members in the Retired Reserve.

By registering for a myPay account, you will receive important information from DFAS and your Branch of Service, such as changes in laws or policies that impact your retirement benefits, reminders about applying for retired pay, and your Services’ Retiree Newsletter.  Also, DFAS will send email status notifications to you when your completed application for retired pay is received (applications for retired pay should be submitted through your Branch of Service or National Guard command).

Article Posted September 2022

VETERAN Designation on Driver License and ID Card

Eligible vets can add "VETERAN" to the front of their driver license or ID card and can serve as proof of service for various discounts and benefits. The CalVet office will verify and issue a verification form that you take to the DMV.  $5 is added to the regular card fee.

https://www.calvet.ca.gov/VetServices/Pages/Veteran-Designation-on-California-Driver-License-and-ID-Card.aspx

Registration Fee Waivers for Disabled Vets

Free vehicle registration and license plates for 100% percent disabled, former POW, Medal of Honor recipient, or the surviving spouse of a POW or Medal of Honor recipient.  

Article Posted August 2022

Comrades
I would like to encourage everyone to sign up for the  free insurance offered by Legionnaires Insurance Trust. It's free. The department of California gets money for each member signed up. The department uses this money to support  VA&R. In other words this money helps pay for Accredited service officers throughout  the state that help members apply for benefits. All members of the legion family are eligible. So please spread the word to both our auxiliary members and sons. You can get additional information at the web site and the address is www.THELIT.com.

Also I have  been getting a lot of questions about the social security noncontributory earnings, I wrote about earlier. The benefits manual says that these benefits are not in the record now, but should be added when you apply for benefits. So when you apply take a copy of your DD-214 with you ,and ask them to add the earnings, if you are eligible . You should be eligible for additonal earnings if you served on active duty from 1956 through 2001

Article posted July 2022

Instantly Download VA benefit letters

https://www.va.gov/records/download-va-letters

I just figured out you can login in and download these VA benefit letters without filling out a form:

- Proof of Service Card (useful at stores that have Vet discounts)

- Service Verification Letter, Benefit Summary

- Civil Service Preference Letter

Article posted June 2022

California Property Tax Exemptions: 

Homeowners Exemption - Reduces the taxable value of your primary home by $7,000 saving you an exciting $70.  https://arcc.sdcounty.ca.gov/Documents/HOMEOWNERBrochure.pdf

Veterans' Exemption - gets you even less, so don’t bother.

Disabled Veterans Exemption - reduces property tax for 100% rated vets and surviving spouse.  Base exemption is $150k, or $225k with household income below $66k.  It adjusts for inflation and may be retroactive 8 Years.  Proposed changes make it available to all vets based on rating.  https://arcc.sdcounty.ca.gov/Documents/DVETBrochure.pdf

Capital Gains Tax Relief - If you or spouse are age 55+, or severely and permanently disabled, you can transfer the base value of your home to a newly purchased home.  It also allows a one-time claim for disability related modifications to your home without adding the cost to the assessed value.  

https://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/prop60-90_55over.htm

https://www.boe.ca.gov/proptaxes/faqs/propositions110.htm

VA now uses Login.gov as an alternative to ID.me - one account for access to govt agencies. 

Article posted before 2022

D214 ACCESS ONLINE NOW

The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) has provided the following web site for veterans to gain access to their DD-214s online: http://vetrecs.archives.gov/ or try

http://www.archives.gov /veterans/military-service

FOR SAN DIEGO VETERANS & THEIR SURVIVORS

CALL 619-479-1447.

EMAIL: ServiceCorps@LegionSD.org

DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR VA BENEFITS? http://statesidelegal.org/library/2780

Do you need help filing a claim? Call our office for an outreach appointment today! We provide counseling and assistance in filing for VA Disability or Dependent Indemnity Compensation, Disability or Death Pension, Health Care enrollment, Burial and Memorial benefits, Education and Vocational Rehabilitation benefits or other VA benefits or benefits available from the California Department of Veterans Affairs.

SCAM ALERT!!! Do not pay anyone to help you file a claim with the VETERAN’S ADMINISTRATION. We can get you help for free if you qualify.

Are you looking for a job? Visit WWW.VETJOBS.COM.

DD FORM 214 -- SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFIT

Please share this with anyone who's had active duty service prior to January 2002 and planning for retirement.

In a nutshell it boils down to this: You qualify for a higher social security payment because of your military service, for active duty any time from 1940 through 2001 (the program was done away with in January 2002). Up to $1200 per year ofearnings credit credited at time of application - which can make a substantial difference in social security monthly payments upon you retirement.

You must bring your DD-214 to the Social Security Office - and you must ask for this benefit to receive it! Social Security website:
http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/military.htm
http://www.ssa.gov/retire2/military.htm>
This is something to put in your files for when you apply for Social Security down the road. It is NOT just for retirees, BUT anyone who has  served on active duty prior to January 2002.
  FYI - this benefit is not automatic, you must ask for it!