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September 29, 2021

Top 10 South Carolina Veteran Benefits

Last updated on October 14, 2021

Your Ultimate Guide to 2021 Veteran Benefits in South Carolina

South Carolina veteran benefits offer a wide range of exemptions and opportunities for current and former Armed Forces members. With over 350,000 veteran residents in South Carolina, veterans make up 7 percent of the state’s population! 

South Carolina veteran benefits include (but are not limited to) property and income tax exemptions, tuition assistance, an extensive employment assistance program, financial assistance for service members in need, vehicle sales tax exemptions, and recreation discounts to its veteran population. 

south carolina veteran benefits

An excellent resource for South Carolina veterans is the state’s Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which administers many South Carolina veteran benefits. 

As you explore our guide, make sure to compare the different types of exemptions you may qualify for, especially regarding property and income tax exemptions and recreation discounts. 

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Property Tax Exemptions for Veterans in South Carolina

South Carolina veteran benefits include several different exemptions under the South Carolina Complete Property Tax Homestead Exemption. 

Disabled Veterans

Veterans with a 100 percent permanent and total (P&T) VA disability rating are eligible for a complete property tax exemption for a home and up to five acres of land. 

Former Prisoners of War and Medal of Honor Recipients

Former Prisoners of War and Medal of Honor recipients are eligible for a complete property tax exemption for a home and up to one acre of land.

Surviving spouses can also maintain this property tax exemption if they inherit and maintain sole ownership of the home.

You can apply for a property tax exemption online with the South Carolina Department of Revenue. 


South Carolina Veteran Benefits Include Income Tax Exemptions

South Carolina taxes both active duty pay and military retirement pay based on income (zero to seven percent). The state taxes service members’ active-duty military income regardless of where you’re stationed. 

Members of the South Carolina National Guard and Reservists do not pay state income tax on their military pay. 

south carolina va benefit

South Carolina also offers veterans deductions on military retirement pay. There are two options for these deductions:  

  • Deduction of up to $17,500 (for veterans under age 65).You must have other earned income to claim this deduction. If you have no other earned income, you can claim a deduction of up to $3,000.
  • Deduction of up to $30,000 (for veterans age 65 and older). Military retirees 65 and older don’t have to have other earned income and can claim a deduction of up to $30,000 of military retirement income for 2020. Any retirement deduction and age 65 and older deductions are reduced by any military retirement deduction taken.

Surviving spouses may also deduct the same amount if they receive military retirement pay under the Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP).


South Carolina Veteran Benefits for Education  

South Carolina veteran benefits for education are excellent. These opportunities for veterans and their families augment the federal education support available to all U.S. veterans.

There are many military-friendly colleges in South Carolina. According to the VA, in 2017, 146 South Carolina schools received Post 9/11 GI bill funds totaling over $80 million for over 11,000 students. 

Resident College Tuition Rates in South Carolina

In-state tuition rates are available at any public college or university in South Carolina for active-duty military personnel or members of the National Guard (or their spouses or dependent children). Veterans eligible for VA education benefits (or their spouse or dependent children) are also eligible for resident tuition. 

Additionally, if veterans enroll within three years of leaving active duty service, they also qualify for in-state tuition. Qualifying students must move to and remain in South Carolina during their course of study.

Learn more about in-state tuition for veterans here.

College Credit in South Carolina for Military Training

South Carolina veteran benefits allow veterans to apply their time in service toward a degree, converting their military training and experience into college credits. Most universities and community colleges in South Carolina use the American Council on Education (ACE) recommendations to award academic credit toward a degree for education and training received in the military. Each school reviews and assigns credits differently, but you can check potential credit at ACENET.

To claim college credit for military training, request a transcript from your military service branch. Army, Navy, Marines, Space Force, and Coast Guard members should request a Joint Services Transcript. Air Force members should request a Community College of the Air Force transcript. 

South Carolina National Guard College Tuition Assistance

Serving in the South Carolina National Guard could earn you up to $4,500 per year towards your tuition and fees at a state-supported school. You must be a South Carolina National Guard member in good standing with your unit. You can use this benefit for four years, but only towards your first undergraduate degree. 

To apply, fill out the online application or contact the South Carolina National Guard Education Office at (803) 299-2734.

Free College Tuition for Children of Veterans

South Carolina honors the service and sacrifice of veterans by providing free college tuition to the children of veterans. To be eligible, veterans must have wartime service and an honorable discharge. Veterans must also be current residents for at least one year (or have been residents when they entered into service). 

south carolina 100 disabled veterans benefits

Eligible veterans include those who meet any of the following criteria:

  • has a permanent and total (P&T) VA disability rating
  • received the Medal of Honor or Purple Heart
  • was MIA, KIA, or POW
  • died of disease or disability due to service

Children age 26 or younger qualify for these benefits. You can find a list of supported schools in South Carolina and apply for free tuition online. 


Hiring and Employment Benefits for South Carolina Veterans

Several South Carolina veteran benefits offer support with employment, and many resources are available to help veterans and their families find jobs and advance their careers.

South Carolina Veterans’ Employment Preference

South Carolina veterans and disabled veterans receive preference when applying for federal, state, county, and local government jobs. 

South Carolina offers interview preference to veterans. The state requires that at least one qualified veteran is interviewed for each job. Veterans must have an honorable discharge to receive preference, and meet minimum training and qualification requirements. 

South Carolina Operation Palmetto Employment Services

South Carolina helps veterans find meaningful civilian careers through Operation Palmetto. The Department of Employment and Workforce program helps veterans receive priority for hiring through an online job portal. Veterans receive job preference on the portal and get early application access to jobs. 

Access the job database online here. 

SC Works Centers

Veteran service officers at SC Works Centers are equipped with the knowledge to help transitioning military members and veterans find civilian employment. Veterans receive priority service in the centers, which provide individual career coaching, job referrals, resume preparation, and job training programs and services.

Find a SC Works Center near you or find more information on the online portal. 


Financial Assistance Programs in South Carolina

South Carolina Military Family Relief Fund (SCMFRF)

South Carolina veteran benefits include a program to help South Carolina National Guard members and Reservists when emergencies happen. Members who have been called to active service can get help with unforeseen emergency expenses when they receive less pay (30 percent or greater) while serving than they would have on their civilian job.

A few examples of emergency expenses the fund covers include:

  • Preventing veteran homelessness by covering housing and utilities
  • Illness of a veteran or family member that results in hardship
  • Food

The fund will approve up to $2,000 for any condition that puts a veteran at risk of not having basic necessities.

To qualify, service members must have been called to active duty for 30 days or more due to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

If there is no financial need, service members can still apply for the status-based grant, which provides members a flat rate of $500. Additionally, service members or next of kin can request a casualty-based grant of $1,000 for those who sustained a service-connected injury or KIA/MIA or POW members. 

You can only receive the grant once per fiscal year and only once per set of active duty orders. You must also have a rank no higher than O-3 or W-2. 

You can apply for the grant here.


Housing Benefits for Veterans in South Carolina

Veterans Homes in South Carolina

South Carolina veteran benefits include three Veterans Nursing Homes within the state. These homes (located in Columbia, Anderson, and Walterboro) offer long-term care for veterans in need. The homes are only for veterans and their spouses who require skilled and intermediate nursing care. Memory care may also be available for veterans with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

south carolina disabled veteran benefits

Residents have access to many services, including:

  • Medical care, including memory care
  • Nursing care
  • Rehabilitative therapy
  • Pharmacy services
  • Recreational activities
  • Social services
  • Dietary services
  • Transportation 

To be eligible, veterans must have an honorable discharge and must be South Carolina residents for at least one year. 

To learn more about each home and how to apply, visit the respective homes’ website:


South Carolina Veteran Benefits for Healthcare

LocationMedical Facilities for South Carolina Veteran Benefits
AikenAiken Community Based Outpatient Clinic
AndersonAnderson County Clinic
BeaufortBeaufort Clinic
CharlestonRalph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
ColumbiaColumbia VA Health Care System
ColumbiaColumbia, SC Vet Center
FlorenceFlorence CBOC
Goose CreekGoose Creek CBOC
GreenvilleGreenville Clinic
GreenvilleGreenville, SC Vet Center
Myrtle BeachMyrtle Beach CBOC
Myrtle BeachMyrtle Beach VA Clinic – Market Common
Myrtle BeachMyrtle Beach Vet Center
North CharlestonTrident VA Clinic
North CharlestonTrident VA Clinic – 9229 University Blvd
North CharlestonVA Community Resource and Referral Center
North CharlestonCharleston, SC Vet Center
OrangeburgOrangeburg County Clinic
Rock HillRock Hill Clinic
SpartanburgSpartanburg CBOC
SumterSumter County Clinic

South Carolina Veterans Vehicle and Driver’s License Benefits

South Carolina Veteran Designation on Driver License or Identification (ID) Cards

For a small fee, any honorably discharged veteran can request a Veteran designation on the front of a South Carolina driver’s license or ID card.

The word “Veteran” printed on the center of a license allows South Carolina veterans to validate their honorable service with a government-issued ID card. 

To apply for South Carolina veteran benefits through the Motor Vehicle Division, veterans must submit an application form along with a DD214 in-person at the local South Carolina DMV office

Free License Plate for Disabled Veterans

South Carolina disabled veteran benefits include a free and permanent license plate for: 

  • disabled wartime veterans with a P&T rating
  • veterans who are blind  
  • veterans who have lost the use of one or both arms or legs

Veterans can get up to two plates. This plate gives you free parking at city meters, but you cannot park in handicapped parking with this plate. 

Veterans who have been awarded the Purple Heart, Medal of Honor, Bronze Star, or Palmetto Cross don’t have to pay vehicle registration fees; the same goes for former POWs, Korean War veterans, and Gold Star families.

You can apply for a disabled veteran plate or other military plates through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles by completing this application and mailing it to:

SC Department of Motor Vehicles
P.O. Box 1498
Blythewood, SC 29016-0038

Vehicle Tax Exemptions in South Carolina

Veterans with a 100 percent P&T VA disability rating are exempt from paying sales tax on up to two vehicles whether purchased or leased. This also applies to former POWs and Medal of Honor recipients.

sc property tax exemption disabled veterans

Additionally, unremarried surviving spouses of eligible disabled veterans or former POWs are exempt from paying sales tax on one vehicle. Claims for exemptions must be received within two years from the date taxes were paid. 

Apply with Form PT-401 and mail to:

SCDOR
Government Services Division
PO Box 125
Columbia, SC 29214-0720


South Carolina Veterans Benefits for Recreation

Free South Carolina Hunting and Fishing License for Disabled Veterans

South Carolina veteran benefits include a free three-year combination license for disabled veterans. With this license, you can access freshwater fishing, freshwater set hook, saltwater fishing, state hunting, big game, wildlife management area permit, and migratory waterfowl permits.

Click here for more information.

Apply online with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

Recreational Licenses for Active Duty Military Members

Active military and their dependents stationed in South Carolina for 30 days or more may purchase licenses at resident prices. Residents who are home on leave may hunt and fish without buying a license. Be sure to carry your leave paperwork with you. You’ll still need a permit to hunt big game, migratory birds, and to hunt on Wildlife Management Area land. 

You can purchase licenses online.

South Carolina State Park Discounts for Veterans

If you’re a 100-percent disabled veteran or a South Carolina National Guard member, you can purchase South Carolina state park passes at a 50-percent discount.

All Park Passport

This annual park passport provides free state park entry for everyone in the pass holder’s vehicle. Holders also receive free admission to many historic sites around South Carolina. 

SELECT Park Passport

The SELECT Park Passport provides free entry for everyone in the pass holder’s vehicle to 35 South Carolina State Parks.

You can purchase South Carolina park passes online. 


Miscellaneous Benefits for South Carolina Veterans

South Carolina veteran benefits include access to a program that provides free one-on-one legal advice. Lawyers 4 Vets provide limited pro bono legal counsel regarding child support, expunging criminal records, pardon applications, and wills or power of attorney creation. Legal advice is available to veteran residents living in Anderson, Florence, Greenwood, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, and York counties. Veterans must also meet income limits to participate but don’t need an honorable discharge.  

For legal services, veterans must schedule an appointment by calling 1-877-289-6000


FAQs

Are there special property tax exemptions for South Carolina veterans?

Yes! South Carolina veterans with a VA disability rating of 100 percent P&T receive a property tax exemption up to the value of their home plus five acres of land. Former POWs and Medal of Honor Recipients are eligible for a property tax exemption on a home plus one acre of land. Surviving spouses of eligible veterans may also apply for this benefit if they inherit the home and maintain sole ownership. 

Are there income tax benefits for South Carolina veterans?

Active duty service members who are residents of South Carolina pay state income tax regardless of where they’re stationed. However, National Guard members and Reservists generally don’t pay state income tax on their military pay. There are also several exemptions for military retirement pay listed in the income tax section above.

Does South Carolina award college credit for military training?

Yes! South Carolina colleges and universities consider military training and experience and award credit and credentialing appropriately.   

Do South Carolina veterans receive preferential treatment when seeking employment?  

South Carolina veterans with an honorable discharge receive limited employment preference for state jobs. The state is required to interview at least one qualified veteran for each state job position. 

Does South Carolina offer employment counseling and assistance to veterans seeking employment? 

Yes! South Carolina veteran benefits include many different types of employment assistance to veterans. Operation Palmetto gives preference to veterans on job listings and offers early access to apply. SC Works Centers also provide individual career coaching, job referrals, resume preparation, and job training programs. 

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

The South Carolina Military Family Relief Fund provides up to $2,000 to South Carolina National Guard members or Reservists called to active duty who receive a pay cut (of 30 percent or more) while on active orders. Those who don’t meet the income requirement can still apply for a grant up to $500. Family members of veterans injured while on active orders or killed in the line of duty can also request a $1,000 grant. 

Are there vehicle tax exemptions for veterans in South Carolina?

South Carolina offers a sales tax exemption on two personal vehicles for 100 percent P&T disabled veterans, former POWs, or Medal of Honor recipients. You must claim the exemption within two years of the purchase. Additionally, surviving spouses are exempt from paying sales tax on one vehicle. 

Are there special South Carolina veteran benefits offering reduced recreational fees?

There are many South Carolina veteran benefits for recreation! The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources offers free hunting and fishing licenses to resident veterans with a disability rating of 100 percent. Service members home on leave in South Carolina don’t need a hunting or fishing license. Members stationed in South Carolina are eligible to purchase licenses at resident prices. There are also discounted state park passes for 100 percent P&T disabled veterans and South Carolina National Guard members. 


MAKE SURE YOU GET ALL THE BENEFITS YOU DESERVE

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.

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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 & Nexus Statements (Medical Nexus Letters) for a wide range of disability conditions.

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