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August 27, 2021

Top 9 South Dakota Veteran Benefits

Your Ultimate Guide to 2021 Veteran Benefits in South Dakota

There are many South Dakota veteran benefits and exemptions provided by the state to current and former U.S. Military members who served honorably.

South Dakota’s population of 62,000 veteran residents makes up 6.9 percent of the state’s total population. With so many veteran benefits, South Dakota consistently ranks as one of the top states for military retirees. The state is known for its many job opportunities for veterans and its low percentage of homeless veterans. 

Aside from its lack of state income tax, South Dakota offers many different types of property tax exemptions, excellent tuition assistance opportunities for all veterans, hiring preference and employment assistance, and many recreational opportunities for its veteran population.

The South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs is responsible for helping veterans find all the benefits that apply to and are available for you. This organization is a great resource to help you find the benefits you’ve rightfully earned! Find a Veterans Service Officer near you. 

Read on for a comprehensive guide to some of the very best South Dakota veteran benefits!

south dakota veteran benefits
Table of Contents

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Property Tax Exemptions for Veterans in South Dakota

South Dakota disabled veteran benefits include three different options for property tax exemptions and refunds. Applications must be submitted to your local assessor from May 1st to July 1st of the current tax year. 

Property Tax Exemption for Disabled Veterans

South Dakota homeowners with a 100 percent permanent and total (P&T) VA disability rating may be eligible for a $150,000 state property tax exemption. Surviving spouses are also eligible. 

To apply, submit the application to your local county assessor by November 1st. 

Property Tax Exemption for Paraplegic Veterans

South Dakota veteran benefits also include a property tax exemption for paraplegic veterans. South Dakota paraplegic veterans can apply for a complete property tax exemption. The exemption applies to a veteran’s residence including up to one acre of land. 

Veterans must have the loss of use of lower extremities, and the property must be wheelchair-friendly. The veteran must be living in the house for one full year before applying for the exemption. Surviving spouses are also eligible for this complete property tax exemption. 

To apply, submit an application to your local county auditor every year before or on January 1st. 

Property Tax Refund for Senior and Disabled Residents

Low-income veterans in South Dakota may be eligible for a property tax refund. To qualify, residents must meet all of these criteria:

  • Age 65 and older OR classified as disabled by the Social Security Administration (generally you must have a VA disability rating of 60 percent or higher)
  • South Dakota residency for the entire previous year
  • Meet annual income limits: below $12,880 for a single-member household or below $17,420 for a multiple-member household

Returns are calculated based on income, and applications are accepted every year between May 1st to July 1st. You can apply with the South Dakota Department of Revenue here.


Income Tax in South Dakota

South Dakota is one of only seven states that doesn’t charge state income tax!

south dakota disabled veteran benefit

Are there South Dakota veteran benefits for education?

Education-related South Dakota veteran benefits are excellent for veterans and their families, augmenting the federal education support available to all U.S. veterans. The free college tuition benefit for veterans is one of the best state benefits available!

There are many military-friendly colleges in South Dakota. According to the VA, in 2017, 33 South Dakota schools received Post 9/11 GI bill funds for over 1,500 students totaling over $9.2 million. 

South Dakota Resident Tuition for Veterans and Service Members

South Dakota veteran benefits include in-state tuition rates. In-state tuition rates are offered at any South Dakota state school for active-duty military, veterans, spouses and dependent children. You must meet one of these requirements to qualify:

  • Any veteran who establishes residency in South Dakota (such veterans are immediately eligible for in-state tuition, along with spouse and children)
  • Any student receiving tuition assistance with the GI Bill
  • Any military personnel stationed in South Dakota (again, immediately eligible for in-state tuition along with spouse and children)

College Credit in South Dakota for Military Training

All universities and local community colleges in South Dakota award academic credit toward a degree for education and training received in the military. All use use the recommendations made by the American Council on Education to determine academic credit.

To claim college credit for military training, request a transcript from your military service branch. Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard members should request a Joint Services Transcript. Air Force members should request a Community College of the Air Force transcript. (Both methods allow service members to order online copies of their transcripts). Each service branch will provide official copies to schools at no charge.

Free College Tuition for South Dakota Veterans

As a South Dakota resident veteran, you may be eligible for free college tuition! Once you’ve exhausted your GI Bill benefits and any remaining federal educational programs, you can apply for free tuition at South Dakota state-supported schools. 

Veterans with a VA disability rating of 10 percent or higher automatically qualify. For veterans with a VA disability of less than 10 percent, the amount of tuition you’re eligible for is equivalent to how long you served on active duty during wartime. Each month of qualifying service you spent on active duty during wartime makes you eligible for one month of free tuition. This applies for up to four academic years of free education. (You’ll need a minimum of 12 months of qualifying service). 

Mail your application and DD214 to:

South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs

ATTN: Free Tuition, Shane Olivier

425 E. Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501

South Dakota National Guard Education Benefits: Half Off Tuition

If you’re a member of the South Dakota National Guard, you’re eligible for your college tuition costs to be reduced by 50 percent if you:

  • Are a South Dakota resident  
  • Are a member of South Dakota Air National Guard or Army National Guard during each semester you apply for a tuition reduction
  • Completed training
  • Attend 90 percent of drills or training periods
  • Maintain satisfactory grade level

You can request this reduction for up to 128 credits for undergraduate or 32 credits for a graduate program at a South Dakota state school. You can also choose to attend a state vocational school instead. Federal benefits don’t impact eligibility for this program, which means you can use this program in conjunction with other education benefits (or if you have remaining GI Bill benefits).

You can apply for tuition assistance with the South Dakota National Guard online here.

Free Tuition for Surviving Children and Families of POW/MIA

These programs provide free tuition for dependents, and all utilize the same application process.

Free South Dakota Tuition for Surviving Children of Active Duty and National Guard Members

This South Dakota veteran benefits program provides free tuition for children of South Dakota service members who died on active duty. Tuition to state schools or approved technical institutions is covered. To qualify, the member who passed away must have been a South Dakota resident for at least six months before entering into active service. 

Children under 25 (including step-children) are eligible for this scholarship. 

This same benefit is also available for children of National Guard members who passed away on active duty or any authorized training under a different program.

Free South Dakota Tuition for Families of POW/MIA 

Another South Dakota education benefit for POW and MIA service members’ families includes free tuition to state schools for spouses and children.

The POW or MIA member must have been a South Dakota resident when he/she entered active service to qualify. The student must not be eligible for equal (or greater) federal education benefits.

Apply for these education benefits by completing the application and mailing it to:

South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs

ATTN: Free Tuition, Shane Olivier

425 E. Capitol Avenue

Pierre, SD 57501 

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Hiring and Employment Benefits for South Dakota Veterans

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

South Dakota Veterans’ Hiring Preference

Veterans and disabled veterans receive preference when applying for federal, state, county, and local government jobs in South Dakota. Veterans are automatically added to the interview list for a position as long as they meet minimum qualification requirements for the job. 

Additionally, veterans with a service-connected disability, spouses of disabled veterans unable to work, and unremarried surviving spouses receive additional interview preference.

Veterans must have an honorable discharge and meet these additional requirements to be eligible for state hiring preference:

  • Be a resident of South Dakota
  • Have fulfilled their service obligation unless discharged early for medical reasons, hardship, reduction in force, or at the convenience of the military

Learn more about South Dakota veteran benefits for state employment preference here.

South Dakota Employment Assistance

South Dakota’s Department of Labor and Regulation works hard to help veterans find gainful employment after their honorable service. Services for job-seeking veterans include:

  • Job search information
  • Assistance in choosing a civilian career with your skillset
  • Help writing your resume and cover letter
  • Help preparing for job interviews
  • Information on how to apply for government jobs
  • Direct referrals to job openings 

If you served 180 days or more on active duty, you qualify for employment assistance preference, but there are other ways to meet eligibility requirements. 

If you have a service-connected disability, you may qualify for additional service levels, including vocational rehabilitation. Often this requires a VA disability rating of 30 percent or greater (or a medical discharge). 

Spouses of permanent and totally (P&T) disabled veterans, POW/MIA, and veterans who passed away due to a service-connected disability are also eligible for priority service. 

You can learn how to get priority of service with South Dakota Employment Assistance Programs at a local Job Service Office here. 

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Financial Assistance Programs in South Dakota

South Dakota Veteran and Active Duty Bonus

South Dakota veteran benefits include a $1,000 bonus for recent service members for your honorable service! If you served during Desert Storm or after, you may be eligible for a $500 bonus if you meet these requirements:

  • Served August 2nd, 1990 to March 3rd, 1991 (all service counts for the bonus)
  • Served March 4th, 1991 to December 31st, 1992 (only service in a hostile area qualifying for the Southwest Asia Service medal counts for the bonus)

If you served during one of these periods, you’re also eligible for an additional $500:

  • January 1st, 1993 to September 10th, 2001 (and received a campaign or service medal for combat operations)
  • September 11th, 2001 or after

Apply for the bonus through your South Dakota Veterans Service Officer.


Housing Benefits for Veterans in South Dakota

South Dakota State Veterans Home

South Dakota disabled veteran benefits include a veterans home located in Hot Springs, SD. The mission is to provide a quality living environment in both independent living and long-term care settings for veterans and their spouses.

The home offers the following services:

  • Complete medical services
  • 24-hour nursing care
  • Pharmacy services
  • Physical therapy
  • Transportation
  • Meals
  • Social services
  • Recreational programs
  • Spiritual guidance

To qualify, veterans must have an honorable discharge and have lived in South Dakota anytime in the previous five years. Cost is income-based, and residents with income below $50,000 pay 50 percent of their gross income (or 55 percent for couples). Spouses are eligible if they’ve been married to an eligible veteran for at least one year prior to application. 

Apply for the Veterans Home by contacting your local Veterans Service Officer

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South Dakota Veteran Benefits for Healthcare

LocationMedical Facilities for South Dakota Veteran Benefits
AberdeenAberdeen VA Clinic
Dakota DunesSioux City VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic
Eagle ButteMcLaughlin VA Clinic
Fort MeadeVA Black Hills Health Care System – Fort Meade Campus
Hot SpringsVA Black Hills Health Care System – Hot Springs Campus
MissionMission CBOC
PierrePierre VA Clinic
Pine RidgePine Ridge VA Clinic
Rapid CityRapid City VA Clinic
Rapid CityRapid City Vet Center
Sioux FallsSioux Falls VA Health Care System
Sioux FallsSioux Falls Vet Center
WagnerWagner Outreach Clinic
WatertownWatertown CBOC
WinnerWinner VA Clinic

South Dakota Veterans Vehicle and Driver’s License Benefits

South Dakota Military Service Designation on Driver’s License

One of the South Dakota veteran benefits many veterans like to take advantage of is the option to request a free “Veteran” designation on the front of a South Dakota driver’s license or ID card at renewal.

The “Veteran” printed on the bottom of the license allows honorably discharged South Dakota veterans to validate their honorable service with a government-issued ID card.

To apply for the designation, veterans must provide proof of residency and service with a DD214 at a local Driver Licensing location or online

South Dakota Disabled Veteran License Plates

South Dakota veteran benefits include access to 58 different license plates to honor the service of military members. 

The South Dakota Disabled Veteran License Plate is available to veterans who incurred an injury during wartime and also meet one of the following requirements:

  • Have a 100 percent VA disability rating
  • Received a VA K award
  • Are an amputee, or lost the use of an extremity
  • Received aid to buy a car from the VA

No registration fees are charged for this plate other than an annual $10 plate fee. 

You can apply for this license plate by filling out Form 1303

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Veterans Benefits in South Dakota for Recreation

Discounted Hunting and Fishing Licenses in South Dakota

If you’re a veteran with a VA disability rating of 40 percent or higher or a POW, you may qualify for a $10 hunting and fishing license! This license is good for four years and provides a small game license and resident fishing license. 

Complete the application for the reduced-fee license and mail it to:

Game, Fish and Parks

Disability License

20641 SD Hwy 1806

Ft. Pierre, SD 57532

Active Duty Hunting and Fishing Permit Exemption

If you’re an active duty service member stationed outside of South Dakota home on leave, you don’t need a hunting or fishing license if you’re only hunting small game. The exception is if you’re hunting big game or migratory birds, for which you’ll need to purchase permits. 

You can purchase these permits online with the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks. 

Free State Park Admission and Reduced Camping for South Dakota Disabled Veterans

Veterans with a permanent and total (P&T) VA disability rating and POWs are eligible for free lifetime state park admission. As a P&T disabled veteran or POW, you’ll also receive half off all camping reservations within the state. You must be a South Dakota resident. 

You can apply for a lifetime state park admission license here.

To receive a discount for camping reservations, call 1-800-710-2267.

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FAQs

Are there special property tax exemptions for South Dakota veterans?

Yes! One hundred percent P&T disabled veterans receive a property tax exemption in South Dakota (up to $150,000), reducing the taxable value of a veteran’s home. Paraplegic veterans may qualify for a 100-percent property tax exemption. Residents over 65 (or disabled veterans who also meet income limits) may qualify for a property tax refund. Surviving spouses are also eligible for all three of these exemptions. 

Are there income tax benefits for South Dakota veterans?

South Dakota does not levy a state income tax.

Does South Dakota offer tuition assistance for veterans?

Yes! South Dakota offers many different types of tuition assistance for veterans. Veterans are eligible for one month of free tuition at participating South Dakota state colleges for every month they serve on active duty (after a minimum of 12 months of service). Free tuition is also available for qualifying dependents of POW/MIA service members and those who die in service of our nation. Eligible National Guard members also receive 50 percent off tuition at any South Dakota state school. 

Do South Dakota veterans receive preferential treatment when seeking employment?  

South Dakota veterans with an honorable discharge are automatically added to the interview list for a state job if they meet minimum qualifications.

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

Yes! Job Service Offices located throughout the state offer veterans help during the career transition process with everything from resume and cover letter writing to direct referrals to job openings. 

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

The South Dakota Veterans Bonus program rewards veterans who served during Desert Storm (or select periods afterward), offering up to $1,000 depending on when a veteran served. 

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

The South Dakota Department of Game, Fish, and Parks offers discounted hunting and fishing licenses to former POWs and permanently disabled veterans. South Dakota residents who are former POWs and permanent and total (P&T) disabled veterans can camp for half price and get free lifetime entrance to South Dakota State Parks.  


MAKE SURE YOU GET ALL THE BENEFITS YOU DESERVE

Regardless of what state you live in, it’s important that veterans pursue the monthly compensation payments due to 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 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 unsure 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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