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July 7, 2021

The Ultimate Guide to Kentucky Veteran Benefits [Updated]

Last updated on April 16, 2024

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More than 280,000 veterans make their home in “The Bluegrass State” (nearly 8 percent of the state’s population).

There are also numerous Kentucky disabled veteran benefits, supporting the nearly 34 percent of the state’s veteran population that has a VA disability rating. 

kentucky veteran benefits
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Top Kentucky Veteran Benefits

Kentucky is known for its robust education program for veterans and their families, especially for Kentucky disabled veterans. Other benefits include:

  • Financial assistance to prevent homelessness
  • Property tax exemptions
  • Recreational licenses and discounts
  • Vehicle registration discounts
  • Help with employment. 

Your military branch, career status, and disability status as well as residence status can affect benefit eligibility.  

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

The department maintains 19 field offices throughout the state, staffed by Veterans Benefits Field Representatives who are veterans themselves.

Read on for the ultimate guide to top Kentucky veteran benefits!

Kentucky Veteran Benefits for Taxes

Homestead Exemption for Disabled Veterans

Kentucky disabled veteran benefits include a homestead exemption, which cuts the taxable value of your home. The amount of the exemption is adjusted for inflation every 2 years. It’s $46,350 for the 2023 and 2024 tax periods, an increase of $5,850 from the 2021-2022 exemption.

You only need to apply for the homestead exemption once, and once approved you’ll automatically receive it annually as a disabled veteran. 

Local Property Valuation Administrators (PVAs) are responsible for assessing property in Kentucky. To apply, you must fill out the form below and contact your local PVA. 

You can apply for the exemption with the Kentucky Department of Revenue. 

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Kentucky VA Benefits for Income Tax

Kentucky offers excellent state income tax benefits for military members and veterans receiving military retirement. 

Kentucky has a flat 5 percent state income tax for residents. One of the rewarding Kentucky veteran benefits includes exemption for members of the military from paying income tax on their military pay!

This includes active duty and members of the National Guard, as well as reservists. 

Military Retirement Income Tax Exemptions

If you are receiving military retirement, you can exclude up to $31,110 of your retirement income from your state income tax return. Keep in mind this applies to all federal retirement payments, so if you receive more than this amount, the remainder is subject to state income tax. 

If your retirement service credit was earned before January 1, 1998, you may be eligible to have all of your military retirement income excluded.

Kentucky Veteran Benefits for Education

In addition to the federal programs available to all U.S. veterans, Kentucky veteran benefits include excellent educational benefits for veterans and their families. 

There are many military-friendly colleges in Kentucky. According to the VA, 138 Kentucky schools received Post 9/11 GI bill funds in 2017, for more than 6,686 students totaling over $46 million dollars. 

Kentucky Resident Tuition for Nonresident Military Service Members and Dependents

Veterans and active duty service members are eligible for in-state tuition at any University of Kentucky system school.

You must have received an honorable discharge within the last three years from the time of enrollment and also be eligible for Title 38 GI Bill benefits to receive in-state tuition.

Active duty military members stationed in Kentucky as well as their spouse and dependents are also eligible for in-state tuition. 

Read more about military and in-state tuition on the University of Kentucky website. 

College Credit for Military Experience in Kentucky

All universities and local community colleges in Kentucky use the recommendations made by the American Council on Education to award academic credit toward a degree for education and training received in the military. Many schools in Kentucky only award credit that can be applied towards the chosen degree of study. 

To claim college credit for military training, request a transcript from your military service branch at Air University for the Air Force and Joint Services Transcript (JST) for all other branches and contact your local veterans services coordinator.

Find out more information about campus outreach to Kentucky veterans here. 

Dependent Tuition Waiver and Tuition Exemptions for Kentucky Schools

For Kentucky resident service members or veterans who are 100 percent or Permanently & Totally disabled, Kentucky offers their children under age 26 and unremarried surviving spouses full tuition waivers. This applies to veterans who served on active duty, in the National Guard, or the Reserves. 

Dependents are also eligible if they are related to service members who died on active duty or as a result of a service-connected disability or are/were Prisoners of War or Mission in Action.  

Any two- or four-year institution or vocational/technical school is covered if it’s operated by the Kentucky Department of Education.

Dependents don’t need to be state residents to use this benefit and can use it for up to 45 months.

Learn how to apply for the tuition waiver or tuition exemption online

National Guard Tuition Award Program

Kentucky National Guard members may be eligible for up to 100 percent tuition assistance for in-state tuition at any Kentucky public college.

To be eligible, students must remain in the Kentucky National Guard during the period of enrollment and be in good standing.

All Kentucky National Guard members are encouraged to contact the Boone National Guard at (502) 607-1039 with any application questions. 

Members can apply for the tuition waiver online. 

High School Diplomas for Wartime Veterans in Kentucky

Kentucky’s Operation Recognition issues high school diplomas to eligible veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. This is one of the Kentucky veteran benefits you earned with your service and sacrifice, so take advantage of the opportunity to get your high school diploma!

Veterans who left high school to join the military during World War II, Korea, or Vietnam are eligible to receive a high school diploma if the veteran:

  • Is an honorably discharged member of the Armed Forces
  • Left high school in any U.S. state before graduation to serve in the war

To apply, complete the application and mail to the Kentucky Department of Veterans’ Affairs along with the veteran’s discharge papers to:

KDVA High School Diploma Program

1111B Louisville Road

Frankfort, KY 40601

Learn more about Operation Recognition in Kentucky.

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Kentucky Veteran Benefits for Employment

There are several Kentucky veteran benefits that support veterans and their families with employment.

As service members transition into civilian life, Kentucky employment resources can help with everything from career advancement to transitioning into a new career path

Veterans and disabled veterans receive preference when applying for federal, state, county, and local government jobs in Kentucky. 

Kentucky Veterans’ Employment Preference

Kentucky recognizes those who have served by offering interview preference to veterans and their family members. You must have an honorable discharge to receive preference.

As long as you meet the minimum requirements for the position, they are guaranteed an interview if there are five or less applicants with veterans’ preference. The same preference applies to spouses of service members and veterans, as well as dependent parents of a disabled or deceased veteran. 

You can find out if you are eligible for veterans’ preference online at the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet website. 

Veterans’ Preference at Kentucky Career Centers

Kentucky thanks veterans with Veterans Express services at local Career Centers. You can get access to:

  • Career assessments
  • Job search assistance
  • Interview preparation
  • Resume assistance
  • Help translating your military experience into the civilian job sector

Disabled veterans also have the option to utilize specialized services through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation. 

Contact a local Jobs for Veterans representative or find a local Kentucky Career Center near you to take advantage of employment-related Kentucky veteran benefits.

Online Employment Training for Veterans

The Kentucky Veterans Employment Training and Support Program (KyVETS) offers training to improve skills, resume assistance, networking, and interview preparation help to veterans.

Find out more about resources available online.

Paid Days Off for Military Spouses who are Kentucky State Employees

Kentucky authorizes state employees to take two paid days off—one when a military spouse deploys and one day on the spouse’s return.

This also applies to members of the National Guard or Reserves if they deploy. 

kentucky va benefits

Kentucky Veteran Benefits for Housing

Kentucky Veterans Homes

Care at any of the four Veterans Homes in Kentucky is an earned benefit to honorably discharged veterans, providing veterans a community fostering independence, preserving dignity, and providing compassionate care. 

Each of the four centers is a skilled nursing facility that provides long-term care to include memory care in several locations. Only veterans are eligible for admittance and must be a Kentucky resident in need of nursing care. 

The four centers are:

The monthly cost is covered by the VA for veterans with service-connected disability ratings of 70 percent or higher. Contact each location’s admissions coordinator for more information.

Kentucky Veteran Benefits for Financial Assistance

Kentucky Homeless Veterans Program

Kentucky is going to great lengths to end veteran homelessness. The state has a Homeless Veterans Trust Fund that provides financial assistance to honorably discharged former members of the U.S. Armed Forces. 

Financial assistance includes help paying utilities or avoiding eviction. Veterans should provide notice of utility cut-off or eviction notices along with their application. 

Learn more about Kentucky’s Homeless Veterans Program

Kentucky Veteran Benefits for Transportation Licensing

Kentucky Veteran Designation on Driver License or Identification (ID) Cards

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet offers a veteran designation that you can choose to place on your Kentucky driver’s license or ID card. To receive the veteran designation, veterans must provide proof of service and meet the requirements for a Kentucky driver license. 

The “Veteran” printed vertically on the left side of the license allows honorably discharged Kentucky veterans to validate their honorable service with a government-issued ID card.

To apply for the designation, you can find out what additional documents you need and schedule an appointment online with a Kentucky Driver Licensing Office. 

Veteran Recognition License Plates

Kentucky offers veterans and their family members 53 unique specialty license plates.

Disabled veterans with a disability rating of 50 percent or higher are eligible for a disabled veteran license plate. This plate and all renewals are free for veterans who are 100 percent disabled if their disability is service-connected. 

Apply at your local County Clerk office. 

kentucky veteran benefits

Kentucky Veteran Benefits for Recreation

Discounted Hunting and Fishing Licenses for Kentucky Veterans

The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources offers discounted hunting and fishing licenses for $12 to Kentucky residents with a disability rating of 50 percent or higher. These can be renewed every three years.

The license includes combination hunting/fishing, statewide deer permit, spring and fall turkey permits, Kentucky migratory bird/waterfowl permit and trout permit.

Veterans can apply for a license online. 

Exemption for Kentucky Service Members on Leave

If a Kentucky resident service member is on leave for three or more days, they do not need a license to hunt or fish. 

Discounted Camping in Kentucky

Kentucky offers a 10 percent discount for active military and veterans at Kentucky State Park campgrounds for one campsite or rental unit per visit.

100 percent disabled veterans who are also Kentucky residents can camp or stay for free for up to three nights per year. 

VA Health Care and Vet Center Locations in Kentucky

LocationsKentucky Federal VA Medical Centers
BellevueBellevue Community Based Outpatient Clinic
BereaVA Clinic Berea
Bowling GreenBowling Green VA Clinic
CarrolltonCarrollton VA Clinic
ClarksonGrayson County VA Clinic
FlorenceFlorence Community Based Outpatient Clinic
Ft KnoxFt. Knox VA Clinic
Ft. ThomasCincinnati VA Medical Center-Fort Thomas
HazardVA Clinic Hazard
HopkinsvilleHopkinsville, Kentucky OPC
LexingtonLexington VAMC: Cooper Division
Lexington VAMC: Leestown Division
Lexington Vet Center
LouisvilleRobley Rex VA Medical Center
Newburg VA Clinic
Stonybrook VA Clinic
Louisville Vet Center
MayfieldMayfield Community Based Outpatient Clinic
MoreheadVA Clinic Morehead
OwensboroOwensboro Community Based Outpatient Clinic
PaducahPaducah Community Based Outpatient Clinic
PrestonsburgPrestonsburg VA Clinic
SomersetVA Clinic Somerset

Miscellaneous Benefits for Kentucky Veterans

Kentucky Women Veterans Program

Kentucky is focusing on ensuring that women veterans receive the benefits they earned.

The Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs has compiled a list of resources just for women, including outreach events and hotline information. 

Kentucky Veteran Benefits – FAQs

Are there special property tax exemptions for Kentucky veterans?

Yes, disabled veterans receive a property tax exemption in Kentucky up to $40,500, which reduces the taxable value of a veteran’s home. Surviving spouses of eligible veterans may also apply for this benefit. 

Are there income tax benefits for Kentucky veterans?

Military members who are residents of Kentucky don’t have to pay state income tax on their military pay. Veterans may exclude up to $31,110 of their military retirement pay from their state income tax return.

Does Kentucky award college credit for military training?

Kentucky public universities and colleges consider military training and experience and award credit appropriately, as long as the credit is applicable to the degree of study chosen by the veteran.

Do Kentucky veterans receive preferential treatment when seeking employment?  

Kentucky veterans with an honorable discharge receive a guaranteed interview for a state job if there are five or less applicants with veterans’ preference. They still have to meet the minimum requirements for the job.

Does Kentucky offer employment counseling and assistance to veterans seeking employment? 

Kentucky offers many services to veterans including career assessments, job search assistance, interview preparation and resume assistance along with many more through local Veteran Representatives.

Does Kentucky offer any special financial assistance to veterans and their families?

Kentucky veterans may be eligible for financial assistance from the Homeless Veterans Trust fund to get aid with utility bills and avoid eviction. Learn how to apply online. 

Are there special Kentucky veteran benefits offering reduced recreational fees?

The Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources offers discounted hunting and fishing licenses to disabled veterans with a disability rating of 50 percent or more. There’s a 10 percent discount for other veterans and active military at Kentucky State Park campgrounds for one campsite or rental unit per visit. 100 percent disabled veterans can stay free for up to three nights per year. 


Regardless of what state you live in, it’s important that you pursue the monthly compensation payments due to you for disabilities connected to your military service.

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

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

If you’ve filed your VA disability claim and have been denied or have received a low rating – or you’re not sure how to get started – reach out to us for a FREE VA Claim Discovery Call, 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 and nexus statements (medical nexus letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.

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