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September 7, 2021

Top 7 Iowa Veteran Benefits for 2021

Iowa Veteran Benefits Guide

Iowa veteran benefits (including disabled veteran benefits) are available to augment the federal benefits offered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These additional benefits and exemptions support veterans and their families in their return to civilian life.

More than 226,000 veterans live in the Hawkeye State (an estimated 7.6% of the population). Iowa is proud to honor the sacrifice of those who served.

iowa veteran benefits
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What are the top Idaho veteran benefits?

Idaho veteran benefits include:

  • Property tax exemptions.
  • Education and training programs.
  • Help with employment.
  • Recreational licenses and discounts.
  • Housing programs.
  • Emergency financial assistance.

A veteran’s (or service member’s) military branch, career status, disability status, and residence status can affect benefit eligibility. 

The Iowa Department of Veterans’ Affairs administers many of the veteran programs and benefits in Iowa. This is a great place to learn about your state and federal benefits or get help with claims and applications. 

Read on for the ultimate guide to Iowa veterans benefits in 2021! 


Property Tax Exemptions and Credits For Iowa Veterans 

Iowa veteran benefits offer special property tax exemptions and credits to those who served.   

Iowa Veteran Benefits for Military Service Tax Exemption

Iowa veteran benefits reduce assessed home value for property tax purposes by $1,852. The service member must have been on active duty during a period of war (or for a minimum of 18 months during peacetime).

The amount of exemption can vary. You must own the property on July 1 of each claim year.

File your claim with the local assessor by July 1. 

Military Service Tax Exemption application (54-146)

Iowa Disabled Veteran Benefits for Homestead Tax Credit

Iowa disabled veteran benefits encourage homeownership by providing 100% exemption of property taxes for 100%-disabled (service-connected) veterans and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) recipients. The current credit is equal to 100% of the actual tax levy.

Veterans with a permanent and total disability rating based on individual unemployability (paid at the 100% disability rate) may also qualify.

You must own and occupy the property as a homestead on July 1 of each year, declare residency in Iowa for income tax purposes, and occupy the property for at least six months each year.

Others who may qualify:

• Those in military or nursing homes (who do not occupy the homestead property) 

• A surviving spouse of a disabled veteran receiving DIC payments

• A surviving spouse (and estate beneficiary) of a veteran who received the credit may continue to receive the credit (as long as the spouse resides in the qualified homestead and does not remarry).

File a claim by July 1 and include a current benefits-paid letter and a DD214 with the application.  

Click here for more information

Application for Disabled Veteran Homestead Credit (54-049)

Iowa Veteran Benefits for Military Retirement Tax Exemption

Iowa veteran benefits exempt federal retirement pay (from military service and survivor benefits) from state individual income tax. The retirement pay is only deductible as included in your federal adjusted gross income. The exclusion also applies to military survivor benefits received under 10 U.S.C. 1447 (and available for residents and nonresidents of Iowa).

The exemption is in addition to the general $6,000/$12,000 pension exclusion available for Iowa individual income tax for taxpayers 55 years of age or older.  

For example, suppose a married individual age 65 receives $20,000 in military retirement pay and $25,000 in pension income from John Deere. In that case, that individual will be able to exclude $32,000 ($20,000 plus $12,000) of pension income on their Iowa income tax return.

Click here for more information on Iowa’s military retirement tax exemption

Forgiveness of Iowa State Income Tax for Deceased Service Members and Those Missing and Presumed Dead

Iowa income tax is forgiven if:

  • the deceased was killed in a combat zone, or
  • the taxpayer is missing in action and presumed dead, or
  • the deceased was killed outside the United States by a terrorist or military action (as a military or civilian employee of the United States) and
  • the person’s federal income tax was forgiven

Single status: Iowa income tax is forgiven for the tax year the service member was killed or was declared missing and presumed dead (and for the year before death).

Married (year of death): If the service member was married at the time of death, all tax is forgiven for the year of death if the filing status is joint or married filing separately on the combined return for that tax year.

Married (prior year): All tax is forgiven if a service member was married at the time of death and a joint return or a married filing separate return was filed for the year prior to death. Note: If the deceased had filed using the married filing separately on the combined return status, only the state income tax attributable to the deceased is forgiven. (Prior-year returns cannot be amended to change the filing status.)

Learn more about forgiveness of Iowa state income tax for deceased service members and those missing and presumed dead.

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Iowa Veteran Benefits for Education 

Do Iowa veteran benefits help with education? Yes! The state offers many programs for veterans and members of their families who seek tuition and education support. 

Iowa Veteran Benefits Flow From the Iowa Department of Education

The governor of Iowa has designated the Iowa Department of Education as the location for the Iowa State Approving Agency, which is responsible for approving all GI Bill programs in Iowa for veterans and other eligible persons. (Program approval is a function of the state, not the Department of Veterans Affairs.)


Information: Iowa Department of Education Veterans and Military Education

Contact:


Michael Dommer, Consultant

[email protected]
Phone: (515) 281-3516

Rebecca Griglione, Assistant

[email protected]
Phone: (515) 281-3317 Ext. 3317

Iowa Veteran Benefits: Branstad/Reynolds Scholarship Fund

The Branstad-Reynolds Scholarship fund provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children of deceased military service members who died on active duty after September 11, 2001.

Branstad/Reynolds Scholarship Fund Application

War Orphan Tuition Assistance

Children of Iowa veterans killed in action following September 11, 2001, are eligible for up to $11,844 per year in tuition assistance at an Iowa post-secondary institution. Children up to the age of 26 may qualify. Dependents of those killed in action before September 11, 2001, are eligible for $600 per year (maximum of $3,000). Residency is required to receive this benefit.

War Orphan Tuition Assistance Application

National Guard Tuition Benefits

Present Iowa National Guard members in good standing are eligible for up to $2,700 per semester for full-time enrollment. Part-time students are eligible for $196 per semester hour. Additionally, Guard members who are mobilized will receive a tuition refund.
For more information, see National Guard Tuition Benefits or call (515) 252-4579.

“Operation Recognition” High School Diploma

This program furnishes an honorary high school diploma to qualifying veterans who did not complete high school (in Iowa) due to armed service enlistment. The application form is used by the IDVA and the Department of Education to establish eligibility for honorably discharged veterans.


Operation Recognition application

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Iowa Veteran Benefits for Employment

Iowa veteran benefits include several benefits and programs to support service members and their families with employment.

IowaWORKS Centers

Iowa veteran benefits provide quality employment services through Home Base Iowa, Iowa’s one-of-a-kind program connecting veterans and transitioning service members to career opportunities.

Submit your resumé through the Home Base Iowa website to be connected to an IowaWORKS Center. 

To search for job opportunities in Iowa, visit the Iowa Workforce Development Veterans Work in Iowa website. 

Veteran representatives coordinate all intensive services provided to eligible veterans within the IowaWORKS system, working with clients of Veterans Administration Vocational Rehabilitation to:

• make comprehensive assessments of skill levels

• form individual employment plans

• develop job-interview and resumé-writing skills

• provide individual career planning services

• help place eligible veterans in federally-funded employment and training programs

• monitor job listings from federal agencies and federal contractors to ensure veterans get priority service in referral to these jobs

• provide intensive services to meet the employment needs of eligible veterans

These services provide veterans with information to find and secure suitable employment and smooth the transition from the military to the civilian workforce.

You must register with the local IowaWORKS Center and meet one of the following criteria:

  • Age 18-24
  • Receive VA disability benefits (or have a pending VA disability claim)
  • Vietnam-era veteran (who served between February 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975, in the Republic of Vietnam or between August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975, in all other cases)
  • Homeless or at risk of becoming homeless
  • Have been incarcerated 
  • Recently separated service member who has been unemployed (for 27 or more weeks in the previous 12 months)
  • Lack a high school diploma or equivalent certificate
  • Have low income as defined by WIOA
  • A member of the Armed Forces who is wounded, ill, or injured and receiving treatment in a military treatment facility (or their spouse or caregiver)

Iowa Veteran Benefits Give Hiring Preferences for Federal Employment

Iowa veteran benefits provide hiring preferences for virtually all new appointments for government employment. This preference does not guarantee a job (and it does not apply to internal agency actions such as promotions, transfers, reassignments, and reinstatements).

Veterans preference can be confusing. Not all veterans are considered veterans for federal civilian employment, and not all active-duty service members qualify for veterans preference. 

Only veterans discharged or released from active duty under honorable conditions (honorable or general) are eligible. 

Iowa Veteran Benefits for Hiring Preferences with the State of Iowa, Public Works, Counties, Cities, and Schools

Iowa veteran benefits can reward you with five percentage points added to a grade or score earned in qualifying exams for appointment to positions. Five additional percentage points are added to the grade or score if you have a service-connected disability or receive compensation, disability benefits, or pension under VA laws. (Exclusions include promotions and appointments of the chief of a police or fire department).

An honorably discharged veteran who has a Purple Heart is considered to have a service-connected disability. However, percentage points are given only upon passing the exam and can’t be the determining factor in passing. 

Veterans preference points are applied once to the final scores to rank applicants for interview selection.

There are two types of preference eligibility:

• Disabled (10-point preference)

• Nondisabled (5-point preference)

Iowa Veteran Benefits in Apprenticeships

Iowa veteran benefits offer unique opportunities for advancement. The VA has contracted with the Iowa Department of Education as Iowa’s State Approving Agency (SAA) to approve GI Bill programs.

The function of the SAA is to inspect, approve, and supervise qualified educational programs and on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs. Eligible individuals under the GI Bill may choose to learn by working on the job.

The state’s approval is necessary before veterans and others eligible can receive their GI Bill benefits. Work experience in the occupation can count toward the credits required for skilled worker status.

Fact sheet for veterans: GI Bill benefits for apprenticeship programs

Registered apprenticeship sponsors fact sheet

Veterans and registered apprenticeship

Benefits for veterans in registered apprenticeship

Iowa Department of Education veterans and military education

Local Veteran Employment Representatives

An important bridge to Iowa veteran benefits is your Local Veteran Employment Representative (LVER). In addition to outreach to the employer community and facilitation within the state’s employment service delivery, the LVER:

  • Promotes the advantages of hiring veterans to employers, employer associations, and business groups
  • Assists veterans in gaining employment, including conducting seminars for employers
  • Conducts job search workshops and establishes job search groups
  • Coordinates with unions, apprenticeship programs, businesses, and organizations to promote and secure employment and training programs for veterans
  • Informs federal contractors on the process to recruit qualified veterans
  • Facilitates employment, training, and placement services

Contact:

Veterans Program Coordinator
Iowa Workforce Development
1000 E. Grand Ave.
Des Moines, Iowa 50319
Email: [email protected]

Local office emails:

Veterans Representative – Burlington
Veterans Representative – Cedar Rapids
Veterans Representative – Council Bluffs
Veterans Representative – Davenport
Veterans Representative – Des Moines
Veterans Representative – Dubuque 
Veterans Representative – Fort Dodge
Veterans Representative – Iowa City
Veterans Representative – Mason City
Veterans Representative – Ottumwa
Veterans Representative – Sioux City
Veterans Representative – Spencer
Veterans Representative – Waterloo

Iowa Veteran Benefits at Iowa Workforce Development Centers

Iowa veteran benefits are recognized at the state’s Workforce Development Centers; each center  has a veteran’s employment representative whose role is to coordinate services such as:

  • identifying training opportunities and employment opportunities 
  • ensuring priority for specific jobs
  • working with Voc Rehab
  • conducting outreach to employers, community and veterans organizations, unions, local counseling, and social service agencies
  • developing job interview and resume writing skills
  • helping conduct productive job searches

Fifteen regional workforce development partnerships are ready to help you. Click on a region in the map for information on the regional workforce services available in your area.

(More at the Iowa Veteran Employment Services link on Iowa Workforce Development’s web page.)

district map

 


Iowa Veteran Benefits for Driver Licenses and Vehicle Services  

Iowa veteran benefits offer specialty license plates to veterans, disabled veterans, and qualifying family members. Read on to find what’s available to you! 

Iowa Veteran Benefits for Specially Designated Driver License and State ID

One of the Iowa veteran benefits is that you can request a “Veteran” designation on your driver’s license or state identification card. Present a copy of your DD214 (or applicable discharge document) to the Iowa DOT, then complete an Iowa veteran license application.

Veterans may request this designation anytime they seek a new card, not just at renewal. The cost for a duplicate driver’s license or state ID is $10.

Get more information on the Iowa veterans license designation

Iowa Veteran Benefits for Commercial Driver License (CDL) Waiver 

Iowa veteran benefits give you credit for experience driving large trucks in the military. You may be eligible to obtain an Iowa CDL without taking the drive skills test typically required. To qualify for the waiver, you must have legally operated the same type of commercial motor vehicle you expect to operate as a civilian for at least two years immediately before applying for a CDL.

For more, see the military commercial driver’s license (CDL) waiver.

Motorcycle License Waiver

Military personnel may have the knowledge and skills tests waived by completing a rider education course and presenting a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) card. For more, see the motorcycle license waiver

Iowa Disabled Veteran Benefits Reduce Registration Fees for Specially Equipped Vehicles

Iowa disabled veteran benefits may provide a reduced registration fee for specially equipped vehicles. For more, see reduced registration fees for specially equipped vehicles.

Specialty License Plates for Iowa Veterans and Disabled Veterans

Iowa veteran benefits provide a choice of 24 different specialty plates for your vehicles, including autos, motorcycles, campers and trailers, and more. These distinctive plates are available through the Iowa Department of Transportation.

There is no charge for the first set of plates. Second or subsequent plates cost $25. There is an annual registration fee plus a $5 annual registration fee that goes to the Veterans License Fee Fund at the time of renewal. There are additional charges for further personalization. 

These plates also may be purchased as a gift. Gift certificates are mailed to the purchaser.

For more information, see Iowa DOT military license plates. To apply, see Veterans License Plate applications.

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Iowa Veteran Parks and Recreation Benefits

Iowa veteran benefits are in evidence with reduced license costs and park fees for you to enjoy the Hawkeye State’s natural beauty and outdoor recreational resources.  

Lifetime Hunting and Fishing License for Iowa Disabled Veterans or Prisoners of War 

Iowa disabled veteran benefits (and those of former prisoners of war) may make you eligible to obtain a lifetime hunting or fishing license for $7. To qualify, you must have been disabled as a result of active service. To apply, see Hunting and Fishing License application.


Iowa Veteran Benefits for Housing Assistance

Iowa veteran benefits at the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs (ODVA) have helped more than 334,000 veterans realize their dreams of owning a home, loaning more than $7.5 billion to Iowa veterans. 

Iowa Veteran Benefits for Home Ownership Assistance

Iowa veteran benefits provide a $5,000 grant to service members buying a home in Iowa. You must have served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001, and purchased a home after March 10, 2005. Eligibility has expanded to include service members who served 90 days of active duty between August 2, 1990, and April 6, 1991.

For more, see Military Service Member Homeownership Assistance or call (800) 432-7230.


Iowa Veterans Health Care and Financial Assistance

Iowa veteran benefits are readily available at 22 veterans hospitals, clinics, and community centers throughout the state. In addition, Iowa provides generous programs for a grant and trust fund supporting Iowa veterans and disabled veterans.

Click here for a list of Iowa veterans facility addresses.

    VA Health Care System   
       Des Moines:VA Central Iowa Health Care System
       Iowa City:Iowa City VA Health Care System
    Outpatient Clinic   
       Coralville:Coralville OPC
    Community Service Programs   
       Cedar Rapids:Community Resource and Referral Center – Cedar Rapids
       Davenport:Community Resource and Referral Center – Quad Cities
       Des Moines:Community Resource and Referral Center – Des Moines
    Community-Based Outpatient Clinic   
       Carroll:Carroll CBOC
       Cedar Rapids:Cedar Rapids CBOC
       Davenport:Quad Cities VA Clinic
       Decorah:Decorah VA Clinic
       Dubuque:Dubuque VA Clinic
       Fort Dodge:Fort Dodge CBOC
       Knoxville:Knoxville CBOC
       Marshalltown:Marshalltown CBOC
       Mason City:Mason City CBOC
       Ottumwa:Ottumwa VA Clinic
       Shenandoah:Shenandoah VA Clinic
       Spirit Lake:Spirit Lake VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC)
       Waterloo:Waterloo VA Clinic
    Vet Center   
       Cedar Rapids:Cedar Rapids Vet Center
       Sioux City:Sioux City Vet Center
       West Des Moines:Des Moines Vet Center

Iowa Veterans Home

The Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown is a long-term health facility providing multiple levels of care for honorably discharged veterans, their spouses, surviving spouses, and Gold Star parents who need nursing or residential care.

Spouses must be married to a veteran for at least one year before the application date. Surviving spouses must have been married at least one year before the date of the veteran’s death.

Contact the admissions coordinator at (641) 753-4325 or the admission supervisor at (641) 753-4514. For more information, visit the Iowa Veterans Home website.

Iowa Veteran Benefits for Active-Duty Injuries Earn a Grant Program

Iowa veteran benefits provide a grant up to $10,000 if you sustained a serious injury in the line of duty in an area where you were receiving hazardous duty pay after September 11, 2001. (Injury categories are defined in DOD Joint Publication 1-02.) Treatment or services must be provided in a location that is not your home of record.

The Iowa VA Department pays the grants in increments of $2,500 (up to a maximum of $10,000) in the following manner:

  • $2,500 if you were medically evacuated from the combat zone following a combat-related injury
  • $2,500 – 30 days after evacuation date if still hospitalized and receiving medical treatment or rehabilitation services by the military or VA (follow-up appointments not included)
  • $2,500 – 60 days after evacuation date if still hospitalized and receiving medical treatment or rehabilitation services by the military or the VA (follow-up appointments not included)
  • $2,500 – 90 days after evacuation date if still hospitalized and receiving medical treatment or rehabilitation services by the military or the VA (follow-up appointments not included)

For more information, see Injured Veterans Grant Program.

Iowa Injured Veteran Grant application

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Iowa Veterans Trust Fund

Iowa veteran benefits are bolstered by a multimillion-dollar fund that provides certain services to veterans. Since 2007, interest from this fund has provided relief for Iowa veterans and their families. Funds are used for:

  • Unemployment or underemployment assistance due to service-related causes, vision, hearing, dental care, durable medical equipment, prescription drugs
  • Counseling and substance abuse services
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Housing repair
  • Transitional housing in an emergency

Trust-fund expenditures are approved through the Iowa Veterans Commission.

The application process starts at your local VA office. Benefits available to Iowa veterans and spouses include:

  • Travel (for wounded veterans directly related to follow-up medical care)
  • Assistance for unemployment due to a prolonged physical or mental condition or disability ($3,000 yearly with a lifetime maximum of $6,000)
  • Job training or education assistance ($5,000 lifetime maximum)
  • Individual or family counseling (up to $5,000 in a 12-month period)
  • Dental ($10,000 lifetime maximum)
  • Audiology ($1,500 per ear in a 12-month period)
  • Emergency housing repairs ($10,000-lifetime maximum)
  • Emergency vehicle repairs ($10,000 lifetime maximum not exceeding the value of the vehicle)
  • Emergency vehicle purchase ($5,000 one-time use)
  • Emergency room ($7,500 lifetime maximum)
  • Durable medical equipment ($5,000 in a 12-month period; $10,000 lifetime maximum)

Your income must not exceed 300% of poverty guidelines. Applications are reviewed monthly by the Iowa Commission of Veterans Affairs. Applicants are notified by mail of the decision with instructions on how to proceed. To get started on your application, please contact your local VA county office.

For more information and to apply, see Iowa Veterans Trust Fund and Iowa Veterans Trust Fund


Iowa Veteran Benefits: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Do Iowa disabled veteran benefits include special tax exemptions?

Yes! Iowa disabled veteran benefits help with home ownership by providing 100% exemption of property taxes for 100%-disabled (service-connected) veterans and Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) recipients. The current credit is equal to 100% of the actual tax levy. Disabled veterans who have a permanent and total disability rating based on individual unemployability paid at the 100% disability rate may also qualify.

What other special tax exemptions are available as Iowa veteran benefits?

Thanks to Iowa veteran benefits, Iowa state income tax is not owed if a service member’s federal income taxes were forgiven because the service member was killed in a combat zone, is missing in action and presumed dead, or was killed outside the U.S. due to terrorist or military action.

Do Iowa veteran benefits help me and my family with education?

Yes! Looking to the future, Iowa’s Branstad-Reynolds Scholarship Fund provides post-secondary educational scholarships for children of deceased military service members who died while on active duty after September 11, 2001. Also, children of Iowa veterans who were killed in action following September 11, 2001, are eligible for up to $11,844 per year in tuition assistance at an Iowa post-secondary institution. Children qualify up to the age of 26. Dependents of those killed in action prior to September 11, 2001, are eligible for $600 per year with a maximum of $3,000.

Can Iowa veteran benefits help you find a job?

They sure can! Iowa veteran benefits provide quality employment services at IowaWORKS Centers through Home Base Iowa, a one-of-a-kind program that connects veterans and transitioning service members to career opportunities. You can search for job opportunities at the Iowa Workforce Development Veterans’ Work in Iowa website. Veteran representatives, all of whom are honorably discharged service members, coordinate all intensive services provided to eligible veterans within the IowaWORKS system. 

Do Iowa veteran benefits provide you with an advocate in your job search?

Absolutely! A Local Veteran Employment Representative (LVER) works on your behalf to reach out to the employer community and raise awareness of Iowa veterans available for work, conducting seminars, coordinating with unions and apprenticeship programs, partnering with placement services, and much more.

What are the Iowa veteran benefits for military vehicle experience?

Iowa veterans with recent experience driving large trucks in the military may be eligible to obtain an Iowa Commercial Driver License (CDL) without taking the drive skills test that is normally required. The veteran must have legally operated the same type of commercial motor vehicle that will be operated as a civilian for at least two years immediately prior to applying for a CDL.

Also, military personnel who ride motorcycles may have the knowledge and skills tests waived by successfully completing a rider education course and presenting a Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) card.

For more, see military commercial driver’s license (CDL) waiver and motorcycle license waiver

Are there Iowa veteran benefits for housing?

Yes, and they’re generous. Iowa veteran benefits have helped more than 334,000 service members realize their dreams of owning a home. A $5,000 grant is available if you are buying a home in Iowa. You must have served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001, and purchased a home after March 10, 2005. Eligibility has been expanded to include service members who served 90 days of active duty between August 2, 1990, and April 6, 1991. For more info, see Military Service Member Homeownership Assistance or call (800) 432-7230.

What Iowa veteran benefits are available to injured service members?

The Iowa veteran benefits of the Injured Veterans Grant Program provide up to $10,000 to service members or discharged veterans who sustained serious injury in the line of duty in an area where the veteran was receiving hazardous duty pay after September 11, 2001. (Injury categories are defined in DOD Joint Publication 1-02.) Treatment or services must be provided in a location that is not your home of record. Grants are paid by the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs in increments of $2,500 (up to a maximum of $10,000).

For answers to more questions, visit the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs.


MAKE SURE YOU GET ALL THE BENEFITS YOU DESERVE!

Wherever veterans live, it’s important that they pursue the monthly compensation payments due them for disabilities connected to their military service.  

Most veterans are underrated for their disabilities and therefore not getting the compensation they deserve. At VA Claims Insider, we help you understand and take control of the claims process so you can get the rating and compensation you’re owed by law.

Our process takes the guesswork out of filing a VA disability claim and supports veterans every step of the way in building a fully-developed claim (FDC) – so veterans can increase their rating in less time!

If you’re a veteran who has filed a VA disability claim and has been denied or received a low rating – or you’re just not sure how to get started – reach out to us! You served … you deserve.

Take advantage of a FREE VA Claim Strategy Session with an experienced veteran coach. Learn what you’ve been missing—so you can FINALLY get the disability rating and compensation you deserve!  We’ve supported more than 15,000 veterans to win their claims and increase their ratings. NOW IT’S YOUR TURN.


About the Author

About VA Claims Insider

VA Claims insider is an education-based coaching/consulting company. We’re here for disabled veterans exploring eligibility for increased VA disability benefits and who wish to learn more about that process. We also connect veterans with independent medical professionals in our referral network for medical examinations, disability evaluations, and credible Independent Medical Opinions & Nexus Statements (Medical Nexus Letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.

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