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When you’re planning a funeral for a veteran, it’s always a good idea to look into the burial benefits that are available through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Some families are able to save hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars by tapping into these financial benefits. But what benefits are available to veterans?

Man in uniform sitting on couch, talking on phone as he learns about veterans' burial benefits

Reimbursement for Funeral Services

When a veteran dies, the surviving family members may apply for an allowance as partial reimbursement for an eligible veteran’s burial/cremation and funeral costs. Allowances are split into two types: a burial allowance and a plot allowance. Make sure you keep all receipts from the veteran’s funeral services, so they can be submitted with your application for reimbursement.

The allowance amount depends on several factors, including whether or not the death was service-related. To learn more about allowance amounts and how to apply, please click here.

Weathered military dog tag that says "Thank you veterans" on it; American flag in the background

Burial in a National Cemetery

Some veterans may choose burial in a U.S. National Cemetery or state veterans cemetery.

For burial in a national cemetery, all expenses are fully covered, at no cost to the family. However, because the VA takes on full responsibility for burial, the surviving family cannot apply for a plot allowance. (They can still apply for reimbursement on other funeral services.) Click here to learn about the eligibility requirements for burial in a U.S. National Cemetery.

However, with a state veterans cemetery, there may be some costs. These types of cemeteries are run by the individual states and may have their own rules and regulations. The cost will likely be minimal, but it’s not guaranteed to be free of charge. Your funeral director will know which state veterans cemeteries are close by and can help you figure out if there will be a cost for burial.

The VA does not pay for burial in a private cemetery, but the family can apply for a plot allowance to assist with the cost of purchasing a plot or niche. Additionally, a veteran’s family can still request a government-issued headstone.

Government-issued headstones at a U.S. National Cemetery with American flags planted in the ground

Headstones and Grave Markers

A deceased veteran, discharged under any condition except dishonorable, is entitled to a standard government headstone or marker. Upon request, the VA will furnish the headstone or marker for the gravesite.

Markers are available for both burial and cremation. Flat markers come in granite, marble, and bronze while upright headstones are available in granite and marble. In national cemeteries or veteran state cemeteries, the style must be consistent with existing monuments or markers at the burial site.

Click here to learn more about grave markers, headstones, and medallions available through the VA.

United States Burial Flag

The VA will provide a United States flag to drape over the casket or urn of a deceased veteran. Only one flag is provided per veteran. In general, the next of kin receives the flag; however, the VA will furnish the flag to a friend upon request.

Group of military members saluting

What Documents Do You Need to Claim VA Burial Benefits?

One of the most difficult tasks for a survivor after the death of the veteran is the completion of numerous claims forms for VA benefits. To help facilitate the process of claiming a veteran’s burial benefits, below is a list of documents you will need to bring with you to the VA office:

  • Proof of veteran’s military service (Form DD214)
  • Service serial number or Social Security Number
  • Veteran’s birth certificate (to determine a parent’s benefits)
  • Veteran’s death certificate
  • Marriage license (if applicable) or divorce decree
  • Children’s birth certificates (if applicable)
  • Government life insurance policy

For more information about veterans’ benefits, please call the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or visit their website at

Additional Resources

Top 4 Misunderstandings Around Veterans’ Burial Benefits
Veterans’ Burial Benefits FAQ
Everything You Need to Know About Government-Issued Veteran Headstones
Does the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Pay for a Veteran’s Funeral?
Why Should Veterans Plan Ahead?


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