Veterans get good news

Published 10:35 pm Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Some veterans in Suffolk can rest easier this week after Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli decided that a new constitutional amendment passed by voters last November applies to more veterans than originally interpreted.

Cuccinelli decided that the law, which exempts veterans with a 100-percent service-connected, permanent and total disability from paying property tax on their primary residence, includes veterans with a “total disability rating” from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The decision was made after several General Assembly members asked for clarification on the new amendment. Originally, many localities interpreted it as veterans who are rated as 100-percent disabled.

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However, many veterans are considered only partially disabled, but the VA rates them as totally disabled because they are unable to engage in “substantially gainful employment.”

The law also applies to surviving spouses of such veterans if the veteran died on or after Jan. 1, 2011.

“While the laws may not be perfect, it is paramount that our veterans understand the statutes that apply to them,” Cuccinelli said in a press release. “It is also critically important that they receive the tax exemptions they are entitled to under the law.”

Terrie Suit, Virginia secretary of veterans affairs and homeland security, applauded the decision.

“Virginia’s veterans are some of the most outstanding citizens, neighbors and leaders in the Commonwealth,” she said. “Any time we can do something on a state level to help give back to them and show our appreciation for their sacrifice, it is a positive thing.”

Also in response to the request by the General Assembly members, Cuccinelli determined that real estate that has been put into a trust by a veteran is not eligible for the exemption.