Under Chapter 115 of Massachusetts General Laws (M.G.L. ch. 115), the Commonwealth provides a uniform program of financial and medical assistance for indigent veterans and their dependents. Qualifying veterans and their dependents receive necessary financial assistance for food, shelter, clothing, housing supplies, and medical care in accordance with a formula which takes into account the number of dependants and income from all sources. Eligible dependents of deceased veterans are provided with the same benefits as they would were the veteran still living.

Eligibility

To be eligible for veterans' benefits, one must be a "veteran" or a dependent of a "veteran" under M.G.L. c. 4, sec. 7, cl. 43rd as amended by the Acts of 2005, ch. 130. See below for service requirements and exceptions.

*Naval and Marine DD214 must indicate Expeditionary Medal. All DD214's must specify campaign: Lebanon, Granada, or Panama.

 

Era of ServiceDatesRequirement for Veteran Status
WWI

6-Apr-1917
11-Nov-1918

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during "wartime" and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
PEACETIME

12-Nov-1918
15-Sep-1940

180 days of regular active duty service and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
WWII
(Merchant Marine:
7-Dec-1941 through 31-Dec-1946)

16-Sep-1940
25-Jul-1947

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during "wartime" and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
PEACETIME

26-Jul-1947
24-Jun-1950

180 days of regular active duty service and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
KOREA

25-Jun-1950
31-Jan-1955

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during "wartime" and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
Korean Defense Service Medal

28-Jul-1954
(to be determined later)

90 days of active duty service, last discharge under honorable conditions and the Korean Defense Service Medal.
VIETNAM I

1-Feb-1955
4-Aug-1964

180 days of regular active duty service and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
VIETNAM II

5-Aug-1964
7-May-1975

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during "wartime" and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
PEACETIME

8-May-1975
1-Aug-1990

180 days of regular active duty service and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
Lebanon Campaign*

25-Aug-1982
(to be determined later)

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during "wartime" and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
Grenada Campaign*

25-Oct-1983
15-Dec-1983

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during "wartime" and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
Panama Campaign*

20-Dec-1989
31-Jan-1990

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during "wartime" and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
PERSIAN GULF

2-Aug-1990
(to be determined later)

90 days of active duty service, one (1) day during "wartime" and a last discharge or release under honorable conditions.
  • For GUARD MEMBERS to qualify they must have 180 days and have been activated under Title 10 of the U.S. Code -OR- Members who were activated under Title 10 or Title 32 of the U.S. Code or Massachusetts General Laws, chapter 33, sections 38, 40, and 41 must have 90 days, at least one of which was during wartime, per the above chart.
  • For RESERVISTS to qualify, they must have been called to regular active duty, at which point their eligibility can be determined by the above chart.

Training Duty Exception

Active duty service in the armed forces shall not include active duty for training in the Army or Air National Guard or active duty for training as a Reservist in the Armed Forces of the United States.

Minimum Active Service Exception (Purple Heart or Service-Connected Disability or Death)

Wartime Service

If his or her last discharge or release from wartime service was under honorable conditions, then a person who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States under Title 10 of the United States Code during 1 day of wartime service or a person on full time Massachusetts National Guard duty under Title 32 of the United States Code during at least 1 day of wartime service or a person on full time Massachusetts National Guard duty under sections 38, 40 and 41 of chapter 33 of the general laws during at least 1 day of wartime service, who sustained a service-connected disability during such wartime service or was awarded the Purple Heart during such wartime service or who died during such wartime service under conditions other than dishonorable, is excused from completing the 90-day active service requirement during such wartime service.

Peacetime

If his or her last discharge or release from active service was under honorable conditions, then a person who served on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States under Title 10 of the United States Code during peacetime, who sustained a service-connected disability while on active duty during peacetime or who died on active duty during peacetime under conditions other than dishonorable, is excused from completing the 180-day active service requirement during peacetime.

This chart can also be viewed as a PDF pdf format of    Status Eligibility  or a Word doc format of    wartime_chart.doc  document.

Eligible Dependents

The following categories of persons may qualify as dependents eligible to receive veterans' benefits.

  • Spouse of the veteran.
  • Widow or widower of the veteran.
  • Dependent parent of the veteran.
  • Any person who acted as a parent to the veteran for five years immediately preceding the commencement of the veteran's wartime service.
  • Child of the veteran until his or her 19th birthday.
  • Child of the veteran between 19 years and 23 years of age while the child is attending high school, an institution of higher learning or some other accredited educational institution provided that the applicant is in receipt of benefits under the provisions of M.G.L. c. 115.
  • Child of the veteran 19 years of age or older who is mentally or physically unable to support himself or herself and was affected by the disability prior to his or her 18th birthday.
  • Legally adopted children of the veteran.

Who is NOT eligible?

None of the following shall be deemed to be a veteran:

  • Any person, who at the time of entering into the armed forces of the United States, had declared his/her intention to become a subject or citizen of the United States and withdrew his/her intention under the provisions of the act of Congress approved July 9, 1918.
  • Any person who was discharged from the said armed forces on his/her own application or solicitation by reason of his/her being an enemy alien.
  • Any person who has been proved guilty of willful desertion.
  • Any person whose only service in the armed forces of the United States consists of his/her service as a member of the Coast Guard auxiliary or as a temporary member of the Coast Guard Reserve, or both.
  • Any person whose last discharge or release from the armed forces is dishonorable.

How to Apply

Applications for Chapter 115 Public Assistance benefits can be filed with the veteran's local Veterans' Service Officer (VSO) who works out of your city or town hall. To find your VSO:
 

  • See the complete listing of Veterans' Service Officers in Massachusetts.
  • Call your local city/town hall and ask for Veterans' Services.
  • Or, call the Department of Veterans' Services, 617-210-5480 and ask for your VSO's name and contact information.

Examples of documents needed for application (speak to your VSO for a full list of documents required)

Veterans

  • DD214 or other discharge certificate
  • Income verification (pay stubs, award letters or other documents showing monthly income)
  • Shelter verification (rent receipt or mortgage payment)

To Establish Relationship as a Veteran's Dependent

  • Marriage certificate (for spouse or widow/widower of a veteran)
  • Birth certificate or adoption record with name of eligible veteran as parent (for child of a veteran)
  • Death certificate (for widow/widower of a veteran, child of deceased veteran)
  • Birth certificate of veteran with name of parent (for parent of a veteran)
  • Public record or statements from the veteran or other knowledgeable people, showing that the applicant stood in place of a parent to the veteran for five years immediately preceding the veteran's wartime service (for person in place of a parent to a veteran)