Housing Help for Vets


Most vets are aware of VA guaranteed home loans that make it easier for those who have served to buy a home, but there are several other programs that many veterans don’t know about—at both the federal and state levels—that offer other kinds of housing help. If you qualify for any of these programs, they may save you thousands of dollars. Here is a rundown of available help ranging from property tax relief to grants for adapting housing for disabled vets to the waiver of certain loan fees.

Property Tax Relief
Nebraska offers a homestead exemption to veterans which provides relief from property taxes by exempting all or a portion of the valuation of their homes from taxation. The method of computing the tax reduction is a bit complicated, however:
•    The maximum exemption is the taxable value of the homestead up to $40,000 or 100 percent of the county's average assessed value of single-family residential property, whichever is greater. 
•    The homestead maximum value is $95,000 or 200 percent of the county's average assessed value of single-family residential property, whichever is greater. 
•    The exempt value will be reduced by ten percent for each $2,500 the assessed value exceeds the maximum value. 
•    If the assessed valuation exceeds the maximum value by $20,000 or more the homestead is not eligible for exemption. 
To be eligible a veteran must have received an honorable discharge or general discharge under honorable conditions.

A home is 100% exempt regardless of homestead value and income level if a veteran fits into one of these three categories: 
1)    A wartime veteran drawing compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs because of a 100% disability that was service-connected, 
2)    A wartime veteran totally disabled by a non-service connected illness of accident, and 
3)    A veteran whose home is substantially contributed to by the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Nebraska Form 458 must be filed between February 1 and June 30 of each year in order to be exempt for the assessment year. A homestead exemption is also available to an un-remarried surviving spouse. 

Iowa offers certain service members a military exemption of up to $1,850 of their assessed home value. To be eligible, a service member must have served on active duty during a period of war (or for a minimum of 18 months during peacetime) and must have been honorably discharged. 

Additionally Iowa offers a Homeownership Grant for Service members who have served on active duty (after September 11, 2001). Those vets may be eligible for a $5,000 grant to buy a home in the state of Iowa for use as a principal residence. To be eligible, service members must have served at least 90 days on active duty (or be an injured service person with federal status who was on active duty) and must have a other than a dishonorable discharge. The grant is through the Iowa Financing Authority. You can get more information on the homeownership assistance program here.

If you live in another state, military.com has a complete list of housing and other benefits for veterans in all 50 states.

Housing Grants for Disabled Veterans
The VA provides grants to service members and veterans with certain permanent and total service-connected disabilities to help purchase or construct an adapted home, or modify an existing home to accommodate a disability. Two grant programs exist: the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) grant and the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) grant.

Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant
SAH grants help veterans with certain service-connected disabilities live independently in a barrier-free environment. SAH grants of up to $73,000 can be used in one of the following ways:
•    Construct a specially adapted home on land to be acquired.
•    Build a home on land already owned if it is suitable for specially adapted housing.
•    Remodel an existing home if it can be made suitable for specially adapted housing.
•    Apply the grant against the unpaid principal mortgage balance of an adapted home already acquired without the assistance of a VA grant.

Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) Grant
SHA grants (up to about $14,000) are designed to help veterans with certain service-connected disabilities adapt or purchase a home to accommodate their disabilities. SHA grants can be used in one of the following ways:
•    Adapt an existing home the veteran or a family member already owns in which the veteran lives.
•    Adapt a home the veteran or family member intends to purchase in which the veteran will live.
•    Help a veteran purchase a home already adapted in which the veteran will live.

Want to learn more about help with adapted housing? Go to the VA’s website. 

Funding Fee Waivers
In addition to zero down payments and no mortgage insurance, VA home loans offer an additional benefit for disabled veterans and certain surviving spouses—a waiver of the loan funding fee. According to VA.gov, this applies to the following people: veterans receiving VA compensation for a service-connected disability, veterans who would be entitled to receive compensation for a service-connected disability if they did not receive retirement or active duty pay, and surviving spouses of veterans who died in service or from a service-connected disability. If you are a disabled veteran who paid a VA funding fee while your disability case was pending, you may be entitled to a refund.
Service members who have served their country have earned their right to an important part of the American dream—owning a home. These programs can help make the dream a reality. If you are a disabled vet and you have been turned down for the benefits you deserve, we may be able to help you. Contact Cuddigan Law for a free evaluation of your situation.

Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska
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