Posted by Ask Joe, your benefits guru
We recently published an article about using the Resource Locator in MyArmyBenefits, the Army’s official benefits website, as an aide to find contact information for benefits providers in all the states, territories and overseas settings. An old friend of Army Echoes, LTC Aaron K. Heithoff, member of the Retired Reserve and now a rancher from Texas, wrote to thank us for the article and mentioned how the website had been a big help to him.
A few years back he and his wife Sue were looking to re-locate from their farm in Nebraska to someplace warmer, more tax-friendly and closer to the grandkids. Aaron had discovered MyArmyBenefits at a pre-retirement seminar in Des Moines and was reading through the State benefits facts sheets to research states that did not tax military retired pay. What he found was that not only does Texas not tax military retirement, it has another significant benefit that sweetened the pot enough to put Aaron and Sue on the road to Texas.
The Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) Land, Home and Home Improvement loans are below-market interest loans to buy land, a primary residence or do home improvement. A qualified veteran can have loans in all three accounts, which is what Aaron and Sue did when Aaron met all the veteran eligibility requirements, including Texas residency by living in Texas on the date of application with the intent to remain.
The land loans finance tracts of land of an acre or more up to $125,000 with a minimum 5% down-payment for a 30-year term currently at 6.75% interest. The home loan for their ranch house has a low interest rate (currently 3.19%) with little or no down payment for up to $417,000 on a fixed rate for 15, 20, 25, or 30-year terms. Aaron has a 30% VA disability which further discounts the loan by one half point to 2.69%. Similarly, Sue and Aaron qualified for a home improvement loan at the same rates to put $25,000 toward remodeling the kitchen.
Want to know your state benefits? From taxes to scholarships, MyArmyBenefits has every one of your benefits – state and federal and provides personalized benefits calculations, survivor and retirement planning, information that lets you change and get benefits, legal advice and make medical appointments with links to all major military installations. There are trained Benefits Services Counselors standing by at 1-888-721-2769 who can help answer your questions.