Veteran Burial Benefits: What You Should Know

Today, I’d like to educate you about Veteran burial benefits

While not a subject that is comforting to discuss, death is inevitable for all of us. The wise person is prepared for this fact so that family members are not left “holding the ball” when death occurs.

I don’t want to sound like one of the various burial insurance advertisers, but it is true… burial expenses can be expensive and can put a huge financial burden on family members.

Military veterans do have benefits that can help greatly. Scroll down and find out what you need to know about Veteran burial benefits.

veteran burial benefits

Basic Veteran Burial Benefits Summary

To simplify the process, the V.A. changed its burial benefit program which went effective 7-7-2017. This change has made the benefits easier for survivors to obtain lessening the stress from the death of a loved veteran.

Basically, the V.A. has now automated burial and funeral allowances making the process more efficient with less mistakes.

For Service Related Deaths

In cases of deaths of military members while serving our country, the V.A. will pay up to $2,000 in burial and funeral expenses that happened on or after September 11th, 2001.

For deaths before that date, the maximum is $1,500.

Also, for veterans who are being buried in a National Veteran’s Cemetery, transportation costs for the deceased veteran may be reimbursed.

For Non-Service Related Deaths

Effective October 1st, 2017, the V.A. will pay up to $762 for the death of a veteran who is hospitalized by the V.A. If not hospitalized, the max is $300 with a $762 plot allowance if the member is not buried in a national cemetery.

For veteran deaths from December 1st, 2001 to October 1st, 2011, the max is $300 for burial and $300 plot allowance.

For deaths before December 1st, 2001, the maximum is a total $300 overall.

V.A. Death Benefits Eligibility

There are a variety of eligibility requirements that show the military member paid for a Veteran’s burial and funeral and has not been reimbursed from any other source.

Other requirements may include:

  • The Veteran’s discharge was not a dishonorable discharge.
  • He/she died because of a service related disability.
  • The Veteran was receiving a V.A. pension at the time of death.
  • The Veteran was entitled to a V.A. pension, but had chose not to accept it yet.
  • He/she died while under V.A. hospital care.
  • The Veteran died while traveling under V.A. authorization to a care or treatment center.
  • He/she had a pending compensation claim with the V.A. that entitled him/her to a pension or compensation.
  • Or the Veteran died on or after October 9th, 1996 while under care at a V.A. approved nursing home.

But the V.A. will not pay burial benefits if the military member died while a member of Congress and was holding office, or if a Federal prisoner.

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Evidence Needed To Apply

The V.A. needs these forms of evidence to apply for Veteran burial and funeral benefits:

  • Acceptable proof of death.
  • Receipts showing payments in whole or part… Or
  • A statement from the letterhead of a funeral director that shows the name of the deceased Veteran, the nature and costs of the services, all credits and the amount of unpaid balance.

How You Can Apply

There are several methods surviving family members can use to apply for Veteran burial and funeral benefits. It will help you to know the closest V.A. facility to you.

  • Complete VA Form 21P-530 and submit it to your local VA office. That form is titled Application For Burial Allowance.
  • You can apply online at eBenefits.
  • Work with an approved and accredited representative of the V.A.
  • Or, go directly to the V.A. office you found and a V.A. employee will assist you.

National Cemetery Burial Benefits

Some of the benefits included in the burial of a Veteran in a National Cemetery include:

  • Opening and closing grave site.
  • Care of the grave area.
  • A government marker/headstone.
  • A burial flag.
  • And a Presidential Memorial Certificate.

There is no cost for any of the above.

veteran benefits

Private Cemetery Burial Benefits

Benefits for deceased Veterans buried in a private cemetery may include:

  • A government marker/headstone.
  • A burial flag.
  • And a Presidential Memorial Certificate.

Other Veteran Burial Benefits You May Not Know

  • Spouses of eligible Veterans can be buried in National Cemeteries even if the Veteran is not. This includes spouses who remarried non-veterans and died on or after January 1st, 2000.
  • Minor children of eligible Veterans can also be buried in National Cemeteries. They must be unmarried and under 21 years of age or under 23 if attending an approved educational institution.
  • Adult children of eligible Veterans may also be buried in a National Cemetery if they are mentally or physically incapable of taking care of themselves.
  • U.S. Merchant Mariners who served between December 7th, 1941 and December 31st, 1946 may also be eligible to be buried in a National Cemetery.
  • Members of the Philippine Armed Forces during World War II and are either citizens or legal resident aliens of the United States at the time of their death may also be eligible for National Cemetery burial.

National Cemetery Burials

The V.A. operates 131 national cemeteries, of which 71 are open for new casketed interments and 19 are open to accept only cremated remains. You can search online to see if a cemetery is accepting new burials or cremated remains.

A person cannot reserve burials in National Cemeteries. You will have to contact the cemetery directly upon the death of the person. The information you will need includes:

  • The name and rank of the military member.
  • Service branch.
  • Social Security number.
  • Service number.
  • A V.A. claim number.
  • Place and date of birth.
  • Date and place of death.
  • The date of separation from service or retirement.
  • And a copy of any military separation documents.

Normally, funeral homes will assist with scheduling burials in a National Cemetery. All documents should be faxed to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office – 1-866-900-6417 and then call 1-800-535-1117.

Final Thoughts

Death is not an enjoyable discussion, but it is a fact. Being prepared is the wise move. By knowing the above information, you will be able to ensure you and your military Veteran receive all the benefits available in case of death.

If you have gone through the process and have any added tips, please share them with our readers by leaving a comment below.

Veterans served with bravery and honor and as such, the United States wants to ensure that their funeral and burial is covered allowing their family to mourn the member with as little of stress as possible.

Thank for visiting the website.  Have a great day.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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