Skip universal navigation

New York State Universal header

Skip to main content

Volume 10 - Opinions of Counsel SBRPS No. 98

Opinions of Counsel index

Senior citizens exemption (income requirement) (veterans disability and indemnity compensation) - Real Property Tax Law, § 467:

Where a municipality has opted to exclude veterans disability compensation payments from the computation of income for purposes of the senior citizens exemption, disability and indemnity compensation [DIC] payments made to the veteran’s surviving spouse should also be excluded.

We have been asked whether disability and indemnity compensation payments made as the result of a veteran’s disability and paid to a veteran’s surviving spouse are to be considered as income for purposes of determining eligibility for the senior citizens exemption (Real Property Tax Law, §467). We have also been asked to advise as to what documentation must be presented to prove receipt of such funds.

We have previously expressed the opinion that a veteran’s disability payments are income for purposes of this exemption (1 Op.Counsel SBEA No. 87). That opinion was written in 1972 and is still the general rule; however, a different result is now possible, if a particular local option is exercised.

That is, chapter 168 of the Laws of 1997 amended the definition of income for purposes of the senior citizens exemption (i.e., §467(3)(a)) to provide that, at local option, municipalities may choose to “not include veterans disability compensation, as defined in Title 38 of the United States Code....” So, at local option, a municipality may change the definition of income as provided. {1}

“Specific statutory provisions have been enacted by Congress establishing a system of compensation for the surviving spouse [of a veteran] ... where the veteran died after December 31, 1956, from a service-connected ... disability” (77 Am Jur2d, Veterans and Veterans’ Laws, §37 citing 38 USCA §1310(a)). The State Division of Veterans’ Affairs has also advised us that these monthly payments are denominated as a dependency and indemnity compensation [often referred to as a DIC] payment.

While we cannot say with certainty that the Legislature considered DIC payments when it enacted chapter 168 of the Laws of 1997, it seems reasonable to conclude that the phrase “veterans disability compensation” includes DIC payments made to a disabled veteran’s eligible survivor. Accordingly, in our opinion, where a municipality has opted to exclude veterans disability compensation payments from the computation of income for purposes of section 467, DIC payments made as the result of a veteran’s disability and paid to the veteran’s surviving spouse should also be excluded.

As to proving receipt of DIC payments, we were advised by the Division of Veterans’ Affairs that anyone claiming a Veteran’s Administration benefit as excludable income (e.g., for purposes of RPTL, §467) should contact his or her veterans counselor who should be able to provide written evidence of that person’s eligibility for and receipt of disability compensation. In our opinion, such a letter would be sufficient proof for the assessor.

April 15, 1999


{1}  Section 467(3)(a) also permits municipalities to exclude the cost of medical and prescription drug costs not reimbursed by insurance (added L.1996, c.313 and discussed in 10 Op.Counsel SBRPS No. 28).

Updated: