South Dakota State Benefits

All State Benefits

Burial Allowance for Veterans, Wives or Widows

A payment of up to $100 may be paid by the state to help defray the burial and funeral expenses of any honorably discharged veteran or the wife, widow, or widower of a veteran when the estate, or immediate family, of the deceased is lacking in funds to pay the expenses. The veteran must have been a citizen of the United States and a resident of South Dakota for one-year preceding entrance into military service or one year preceding the death. This payment CANNOT be made to another unit of government. The surviving spouse, or relatives, must furnish an affidavit to the C/TVSO that sufficient funds are not available for payment of the expenses.
Application for the Burial Allowance must be submitted to the Pierre office within one year from the date of the burial.

Planning Your Legacy

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs provides a survivors and burial benefits kit as a source of pre-need planning information and record storage for veterans and their families. The kit includes a section to guide you through possible end-of-life and survivors’ benefits eligibility, as well as samples of completed forms that may be needed in the application process.

Military Funeral Honors Stipend Reimbursement

The South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs provides a reimbursement to congressionally chartered veterans service organizations for their services in conducting military funeral honors.

Forms must be submitted, by the veteran’s service organization, after services have been performed.

Forms must be submitted to the: South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs (425 E. Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501).

Reimbursement will be paid quarterly.

Free Tuition for Veterans

SDCL 13-55-2 to 13-55-5 Provides for certain veterans are eligible to take undergraduate courses at a state supported universities or technical colleges without the payment of tuition provided they are not eligible for educational payments under the GI® Bill or any other federal educational program. To qualify the veteran must:

  • have been discharged under Honorable conditions
  • be a current resident of South Dakota and qualify for in-state tuition
  • must meet one of the definitions of a “veteran” as found in SDCL 33A-2-1 and 33A-2-2 which is as follows:

*served on active duty at any time between August 2, 1990 and a date to be determined
*received an Armed Forces Expeditionary medal or other United States campaign or service medal for participation in combat operations against hostile forces outside the boundaries of the United States, or
*has a service connected disability rated 10%, or more.

Eligible veterans may receive one month of free tuition for each month of “qualifying service” with a minimum of one, up to a maximum of four, academic years. 

Free Tuition for Children of Veterans Who Die During Service

SDCL 13-55-6 to 13-55-9 Provides for children who are under the age of 25, are residents of South Dakota, and whose mother or father was killed in action or died of other causes while on active duty, are eligible for free tuition at a state supported school, if the deceased parent was a bona-fide resident of this state for at least six (6) months immediately preceding entry into active service.

Free Tuition for Dependents of POW’s and MIA’

SDCL 13-55-9.2 to 13-55-9.6 Provides for children and spouses of prisoners of war, or of persons listed as missing in action, are entitled to attend a state supported school without the payment of tuition or mandatory fees provided they are not eligible for equal or greater federal benefits.

Reduced Tuition for South Dakota National Guard members

Provides for Guard members, who meet the requirements for admission, are eligible for a fifty percent (50%) reduction in tuition charges at any state supported school for undergraduate programs up to 128 credits and graduate programs up to 32 credits.
one program of study, approved by the state Board of Education, at any state vocational school upon payment of fifty percent (50%) of the tuition charges.
The receipt of federal educational benefits does not affect eligibility for this program. To qualify the guard member must:

  • Be a resident of this state and a member of the SD Army or Air Guard throughout each semester or vocational program for which he or she applies for benefits
  • Have completed required active duty for training
  • Attend 90% of drills and training periods and maintain a satisfactory academic grade level
  • Provide proper notice to the institution at time of registration for the term in which benefits are sought

Free Tuition to Child or Spouse of South Dakota National Guard Member Disabled or Deceased in the Line of Duty

SDCL provides for free tuition to child or spouse of National Guard member disabled or deceased in line of duty. Any resident of this state who is less than twenty-five years of age and whose parent has died or has sustained a total disability, permanent in nature, resulting from duty as a member of the South Dakota National Guard, while on state or federal active duty or any authorized training duty, is entitled to free tuition at any state university or technical college. Any person who is a resident of this state whose spouse has died or has sustained a total disability, permanent in nature, resulting from duty as a member of the South Dakota National Guard, while on state or federal active duty or any authorized training duty, is entitled to free tuition and is entitled to attend any course or courses of study in any state university. The application and receipt of the benefits of this section are governed by the provisions of §§ 13-55-6 to 13-55-9, inclusive.
The application form is available at the schools’ financial aids, veteran’s representative or registrars offices or, they can be obtained from the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs 

Honorary High School Diploma

SDCL 33A-2-34 provides for honorary high school diplomas for veterans who served during certain wartime periods. Eligible veterans include anyone who served on active duty at any time during the periods: December 7, 1941, to September 2, 1945; June 25, 1950 to July 31, 1953; or February 28, 1961 to May 7, 1975.

South Carolina National Guard College Assistance Program (SCNG CAP)

 SCNG CAP will pay 100% of college tuition and fees at state supported institutions up to $4,500 per year, with a lifetime cap of $18,000 per Service member. Service members must be in good academic with the institution to continue to receive funding.

Headstone Setting Fee

The state will pay $100 towards the cost of setting a government headstone or marker at the grave of a veteran who was a resident of this state for one-year preceding entrance into the military service or one-year preceding death.
Application for the Headstone Setting Fee must be submitted to the Pierre Office within one year from the date of setting of the headstone or marker.

Disabled Veteran Permit

Applicants must be a resident of South Dakota and meet at least one of the following conditions

*A copy of a letter from the VA indicating they have received the K Award, or they receive a veteran’s allotment for a 40% or greater disability which is deemed a service-connected injury and will meet eligibility as established in state law SDCL 41-6-10.2, OR,

*A copy of a benefit verification letter from the Social Security Administration indicating that they are receiving Social Security disability and verification that they have served on active duty in the armed forces or as a member of the armed forces reserve or national guard. The social security letter can be obtained online by creating an account at OR,

*A copy of the discharge papers verifying the Prisoner of War status.

If the veteran does not have the verification papers in his or her possession, contact the South Dakota Department of Veterans Affairs for assistance ( or the Veterans Benefits Administration in Sioux Falls and have them mailed. If the veteran has received a prior reduced fee license and papers as described above have been submitted, there is no need to submit them again unless there has been a status change.

Application and verification papers, along with the $10.00 fee, must be submitted to: South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, ATTN: Disability License, 20641 SD Hwy 1806, Ft. Pierre, SD 57532. To complete the application visit . Upon completion of this form and verification of eligibility, South Dakota residents will receive a Reduced Fee Hunting & Fishing License. This license (card) will be a replacement for the resident small game license and resident fishing license. The license is valid for a four-year period.

Military General Hunting and Fishing License

Residents who are serving on Active Duty and stationed at a location outside of the state may fish and hunt small game without payment of a fee or the applicable hunting and fishing license. If the resident is hunting migratory birds, the federal migratory bird stamp and the migratory bird certification permit must be purchased.

Special Provisions for Handicapped Hunters

Individuals who are missing an upper limb or are physically incapable of using an upper limb or who are confined to a wheelchair may use a crossbow to take game birds and animals once they have obtained a disabled hunter permit.

A legally blind or quadriplegic, legally licensed individual who possesses a disabled hunter permit and who is physically present and participating in the hunt may claim game birds and animals taken by a designated hunter in accordance with the license or licenses possessed by the handicapped hunter.

Applications are obtained from the Game, Fish and Parks office in Pierre or from a game warden.

Special License Plates

Special distinctive license plates are available for veterans who are residents of South Dakota.

Veterans Designation on Driver’s License or ID Card

Veterans who have been honorably discharged from the military have the option of adding the word “Veteran” to the front of their South Dakota driver’s license or identification card. Veterans who wish to add the designation to their driver license or non-driver ID card may visit any South Dakota driver license office. They will need to present their DD-214, which shows their honorable discharge status from active duty, DD Form 2 (Retired), DD Form 2A (Reserve Retired), National Guard Form NGB 22, or present a certificate signed by a county or tribal veterans service officer verifying their status. They will also need to provide the other documents required of any applicant and pay the appropriate duplicate or renewal fee.

State Parks

Free Admission and Reduced Camping Fees for Veterans
SDCL 41-17-13.4
Certain resident veterans may obtain free admission to any South Dakota state park and are eligible for a fifty percent discount on any camping fee or associated electrical fee. To qualify the veteran must:

  • Be totally disabled from service connected disabilities or,
  • Be in receipt of the VA “K”award OR,
  • Have been held as a Prisoner of War.

Application forms may be obtained from the local park manager or through the Game, Fish and Parks office in Pierre.

Property Tax Exemption for Veterans and their Widow or Widower

SDCL 10-4-24.10 states that dwellings or parts of multiple family dwellings which are specifically designed for use by paraplegics as wheelchair homes and which are owned and occupied by veterans with the loss, or loss of use, of both lower extremities, or by the unremarried widow or widower of such veteran, are exempt from taxation. The dwelling must be owned and occupied by the veteran for one full calendar year before the exemption becomes effective. For purposes of this statute, the term “dwelling” generally means real estate in an amount not to exceed one acre upon which the building is located.

Totally Disabled Veterans

SDCL 10-4-40 and 10-4-41states that $150,000 of the full and true value of a dwelling that is owned and occupied by a veteran who is rated permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability(ies) is exempt from taxation. The dwelling must be owned and occupied by the veteran. Application for the exemption is made through the county assessor. The surviving spouse of veteran who was rated as permanently and totally disabled from a service-connected disability qualifies for the same property tax exemption.

Property Tax Refund for Aged and Disabled Person

SDCL 10-18A-1 to 10-18A-7 states that certain low-income property owners are eligible for a property tax refund and should check with their county treasurer for details and assistance in making application.
To qualify the following conditions must be met:

The head of the household must be sixty-five years of age, or older, or shall be disabled prior to January first of the year in which taxes are levied.

The applicant must have owned the property for at least three years or, have been a resident of this state at least five years if not qualified under the three-year ownership criteria.

Veterans Records

South Dakota counties may not charge for certified copies of birth, death, marriage, adoption, divorce, guardianship, or conservatorship papers when such records are required in support of a claim against any agency of the federal or state government by, or on behalf of, a servicemember or veteran, or the spouse, surviving spouse or dependents of a servicemember or veteran.

Veterans Preference

Federal Government Employment
When applying for federal employment, honorably separated men and women of the Armed Forces, and veterans’ widows (or widowers), spouses and mothers are entitled to certain benefits. Preference points (either 5 or 10) are added to passing grades earned in examinations for entrance into federal employment. Thus, veterans and other eligible persons receive preference, but are not guaranteed employment. A Standard Form (SF) 15 must be completed and submitted with supporting documentation. If you have questions, complaints or concerns regarding preference in federal employment, contact the South Dakota State Director of Veterans’ Employment and Training (DVET) at 605.626.2325.

State and Local Government Employment
South Dakota defines an eligible veteran as:

Honorably discharged.
A citizen of the United States.
Having served under qualifying conditions (see South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL) 33A-2).

Eligible veterans receive preference for appointment, employment and promotion at all levels of government, including state, counties, municipalities and school districts. If the applicant possesses at least the minimum qualifications necessary to fill the position, the veteran shall be granted an interview.

They may not be disqualified by their age, by loss of a limb or by any other physical impairment which is not incapacitating. However, they must possess the qualifications necessary to do the job in question. A veteran disabled due to a service-connected cause is given preference over a non-disabled veteran.

Unmarried Spouse of Deceased Veteran

The unmarried spouse of an eligible veteran who died while in service, or died later from a service-connected cause, is entitled to the same preference as an eligible veteran, provided the spouse possess the qualifications necessary to do the job in question.

Spouse of Disabled Veteran

If a disabled eligible veteran is unable to exercise his or her right to a veteran employment preference due to the disability, the veteran’s spouse is entitled to the same preference, provided the spouse has the qualifications to do the job in question.