What are my burial benefits as a veteran?
The VA offers burial benefits for eligible veterans, their spouses, and their dependent children. The VA offers eligible veterans a burial space in a national cemetery where there is space available, at no cost to the family. Burial spaces may not be arranged in advance but are offered to families as the need arises. In addition, certain state cemeteries offer burial spaces to veterans, at no cost to the family. Be sure to check with your local state cemetery about any fees or charges that may apply. A veteran buried in a national cemetery is also eligible to receive opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a government headstone or marker, one burial flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and a grave liner, at no cost to the family.
Will the VA pay for my funeral?
The VA does not directly pay for funeral or burial/cremation expenses such as the cost of a casket, embalming, cremation, viewing, flowers, obituaries, or transportation of the remains and family. The person who paid for the funeral expenses of a veteran may be eligible to apply for a reimbursement or allowance for a portion of the funeral and burial/cremation expenses. You may wish to make arrangements with a funeral home in advance to ensure that all the costs of a funeral are covered for your family.
What type of reimbursement or allowance does the VA provide for funeral expenses?
The VA offers an allowance to cover a portion of funeral and burial/cremation costs. If a veteran dies due to a service-connected cause, the family of a veteran may be eligible for an allowance of up to $2,000. For a non-service-connected death, the VA will pay a specified amount to the family. Plot interment and burial/cremation and funeral allowance amounts are dependent on the date of death and whether or not the veteran was under VA hospital care at the time of death.
What determines eligibility for VA burial benefits/allowances/reimbursements?
To receive VA burial benefits, you must be a veteran of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard) with a discharge other than dishonorable. If a veteran has anything less than a general discharge, he or she may not qualify for burial benefits. Certain discharges other than honorable are considered on a case-by-case basis by the VA Regional Office to determine eligibility. Reservists and National Guard members may qualify based on their retirement status and whether or not they have died while on active duty or on official orders. Spouses and minor or disabled children of an eligible veteran may also be eligible for burial benefits. In some cases, parents of an eligible veteran may be eligible for burial benefits as well. To determine your specific eligibility status, contact your VA Regional Office or visit www.cem.va.gov/cem/burial_benefits/eligible.asp for a complete list of eligibility requirements.
What benefits will my family members receive?
Burial benefits are available for eligible spouses and dependents buried in a national cemetery. Benefits include burial with the veteran, perpetual care, and the spouse or dependent’s name and date of birth and death inscribed on the veteran’s headstone, at no cost to the family.
How does my family request military honors?
Your funeral director will contact the honor guard of the veteran’s military branch to request military honors. One burial flag will be presented to the next of kin. Let your funeral director know to whom the flag should be presented.
How can I ensure my family receives the benefits they are entitled to?
First, ensure that your family is aware of your veteran status and your desire for them to access your veterans’ burial benefits when you die. They will need a copy of your veteran’s DD 214 form or equivalent to access veterans’ burial benefits. This form identifies the classification of discharge. If the DD 214 form is misplaced or lost, contact Veteran Affairs or your local Veteran Service Officer to request a replacement form.
What is the difference between a national cemetery and a state cemetery?
State cemeteries offer burial benefits to veterans, which are similar to those available through national cemeteries. State cemeteries are owned and operated by the state. In many cases, state cemeteries are funded by VA grants and must adhere to federal eligibility requirements. Burial benefits often include opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, grave liner, and the setting of the government-furnished headstone or marker, at no cost to the family. An eligible veteran buried in a state cemetery is still entitled to receive a government headstone or marker, one burial flag, and Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some state cemeteries may charge for interment of spouses and dependent children. Check with your funeral director for burial benefits that may be available at your local state cemetery and for any fees or charges that may be associated with the burial of a non-veteran.
Will I still receive benefits if I decide to be buried in a private cemetery?
Veterans buried in a private cemetery may be eligible to receive a government-furnished headstone, marker or medallion, one burial flag, and Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. The VA will not pay for cemetery plots or opening and closing of graves at private cemeteries. Spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery are not eligible to receive any VA benefits. Contact your local Veteran Affairs Officer to determine eligibility.
What happens if my non-veteran spouse or child dies first?
Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried in a national cemetery, even if they predecease the veteran.
How does my family file a claim for burial benefits?
For information on how to apply for a burial allowance or plot allowance, click here. If requesting burial in a national cemetery, contact the National Cemetery Administration to make burial arrangements at the time of need. The funeral director, next of kin, or person making arrangements will fax all discharge documentation to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 and follow up by calling 1-800-535-1117. For more information, visit the National Cemetery Administration website at www.cem.va.gov.
As a veteran, can I be buried at Arlington National Cemetery?
Burials at Arlington National Cemetery are reserved for military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, or members who die on active duty.
Does the VA cover the cost of transportation to a national or state cemetery?
If a veteran dies as the result of a service-connected disability, is under VA care at the time of death, or is receiving a VA pension or compensation, some or all of the costs for transporting the veteran’s remains to a national cemetery may be reimbursed. The VA will advise the next of kin or person making the burial arrangements on this matter.
Where can I go for more information about my specific benefits?
Contact your VA Regional Office to speak to a qualified Veteran Services Officer to determine your or a family member’s eligibility for VA burial benefits, allowances, or reimbursements.