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Veterans Burial Benefits & Everything You Should Know

Veterans Burial Benefits & Everything You Should Know

America’s Veterans deserve honored places to rest, whether they die in action or at home surrounded by loved ones. That’s why Veteran family members can and should pursue Veterans burial benefits. These provide financial assistance to cover the cost of funerals and associated expenses. Burying a loved one is never easy, but you can rely on the VA for important assistance in these trying times.

Furthermore, Veterans may be able to take advantage of burial benefits for their own loved ones’ funerals. Today, let’s explore everything you need to know about Veterans burial benefits in detail.

Free Burial at a National Cemetery

First, all honorably discharged Veterans are eligible for free burial at a national cemetery. Eligibility for a free burial at a national cemetery is limited to:

  • Veterans of the US Armed Forces
  • Servicemembers who died while on active duty
  • The spouse or minor child of a Veteran in the US Armed Forces

There are over 150 national cemeteries that qualify for this free burial benefit. Burial processes begin with verifying the eligibility of the deceased.

However, there is one exception to the above benefit: Arlington National Cemetery. Only active-duty military personnel, former prisoners of war, military retirees, and Purple Heart recipients or recipients of other top awards are eligible for burial at Arlington.

Service-Related Death Benefits

However, US Veterans and their family members may qualify for other death-related benefits should they choose to be buried at a private cemetery instead. At the time of writing, the VA pays family members of eligible deceased Veterans a certain amount of money for burial at a private cemetery and funds for additional costs.

Partial Reimbursement of Burial Expenses

The primary benefit is partial reimbursement for private cemetery burial expenses. For any Veteran deaths prior to September 11, 2001, the deceased’s family can receive up to $1500. For Veteran deaths on or after September 11, 2001, the deceased’s family can receive up to $2000.

Note that for service-related death benefits, eligibility requirements are somewhat strict. These requirements include:

  • The Veteran must have died due to a service-related disability OR
  • The Veteran was either receiving or was recently entitled to receive a VA pension or compensation at the time of their death OR
  • The Veteran died while hospitalized or receiving care at a VA medical facility or under a VA contract at a non-VA facility, respectively

For a full list of burial benefits qualifications, visit the official government benefits website.

Non-Service-Related Death Benefits

The VA also provides monetary awards to the families of Veterans who died while no longer in active service.

Specifically, the VA pays immediate family members such as spouses or surviving children up to $796 for burial and funeral home expenses for any Veterans who died on or after October 1, 2019. Alternatively, the VA pays $300 toward burial and funeral expenses, plus a $796 plot interment allowance, for Veterans who died while not hospitalized by the VA at the time of their death.

The VA provides up to $300 for burial and funeral expenses, plus a $300 burial allowance, for eligible Veterans whose time of death was on or after December 1, 2001, and before October 1, 2011.

The VA provides up to $300 for burial and funeral expenses for Veterans who died on or after April 1, 1988, and before October 1, 2011, for any Veterans who the VA hospitalized at the time of their death.

What’s Included in VA Burial Benefits?

In addition to monetary Veterans burial benefits, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and US government provide certain additional benefits to the families of deceased, honorably discharged Veterans.

Eligible Gravesites

First, all Veterans who qualify for VA burial benefits also qualify for access to eligible National Cemetery gravesites. Family members can schedule a burial at one of these gravesites with the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemeteries. 

Note that VA national cemetery and state Veterans cemetery burials could be limited by availability and schedules. You can fill out a VA form to reserve a government headstone. 

Military Honors

Veterans with discharges other than dishonorable are further eligible for certain military honors. These include:

  • US military headstones, markers, medallions, and other military funeral honors. These are awarded to family members free of charge and at no cost to benefit applicants.
  • Presidential Memorial Certificates. These engraved paper certificates are signed by the current US president and are also provided free of charge.
  • A US flag, also provided free of charge. The loved ones of the deceased Veteran can drape the casket with the burial flag or have the flag accompany the urn of a deceased Veteran.

Additionally, the spouse, dependent children, and parents of service members and/or Veterans may be eligible for a variety of survivor benefits awarded by the Veterans Benefits Administration.

Who is Eligible for VA Burial Allowances and Monetary Benefits?

VA death benefits are paid to the families of former military service members. Eligibility requirements include:

  • You personally paid for a Veteran’s burial, cremation, or funeral costs or plan to do so AND
  • You have not already been reimbursed by some other government agency or source, like the employer of the deceased Veteran AND
  • The Veteran in question did not receive a dishonorable discharge AND
  • The Veteran died due to a service-related disability OR
  • The Veteran was receiving VA compensation and perpetual care at a VA nursing home when they died, or was entitled to do so

Only certain individuals can receive the death and burial benefits from the VA or other official government organizations. A deceased Veteran’s living, an eligible spouse is the default recipient for death benefits. 

However, if there is no surviving spouse on record, the VA instead pays the benefits to the first living person to file a claim out of the below potential candidates:

  • The current survivor for a legal union between the deceased and said survivor, such as an ex-spouse
  • The children of the Veteran, no matter their age
  • The Veteran’s parents or surviving parent
  • The executor or administrator for the Veteran’s estate, or the person acting for the estate if no administrator was appointed previously 

The VA classifies any legal union as a formal relationship between the survivor and the decedent. The legal union has to have existed on the date of the Veteran’s death and been recognized by the state in which the relationship was formalized.

Note that the VA does not pay any burial benefits if the deceased individual was either a federal prisoner or a member of Congress who died while holding office. A full list of eligibility requirements for burial benefits can be found on the official VA website.

Proving Eligibility for Burial Benefits

The VA does not automatically award burial benefits. If you wish to take advantage of these benefits, you must apply online at the official Vets.gov website or submit a paper application to the Pension Management Center for your state. 

Alternatively, you can contact your regional benefit office or work with an accredited VA representative.

During the application process, you must submit certain pieces of evidence proving eligibility for US Veterans service and death benefits. These evidence requirements include:

  • A proof of death certificate, which must meet the requirements specified in 38 CFR 3.211
  • Receipted bills that show that you paid for the funeral either in whole or in part
  • A statement of account that shows all credits, the amount of the unpaid funeral or burial balance, the nature and cost of all services and merchandise, and the name of the deceased Veteran for whom the services merchandise was furnished

It can be tough to gather all this evidence and make sure it is ready for an application by yourself. The right Veterans law attorney can make sure you have all the necessary evidence to prove that you qualify for burial benefits for your deceased loved one’s funeral and ensure that you receive those benefits quickly.

Contact Veterans Law Attorneys Today

It’s never easy burying a loved one. However, Veterans burial benefits make the financial burden easier to handle and can help you guarantee that your deceased loved one receives the full honors and awards they deserve for their service to our great country.

Although the above programs can be helpful, it can be difficult to navigate through them or apply for their benefit alone. Berry Law can help you understand what Veterans burial benefits you may qualify for and how to claim those benefits promptly. Contact Berry Law today for a free consultation.

Sources:

Partial Reimbursement of Burial Expenses | Benefits.gov

Burial and Survivor Benefits for Veterans | USAGov.

Burial Benefits | National Cemetery Administration

Partial Reimbursement of Burial Expenses | Benefits.gov

Burial Benefits – Compensation | VA.gov Benefits

Berry Law

The attorneys at Berry Law Firm are dedicated to helping injured Veterans. With extensive experience working with VA disability claims, Berry Law can help you with your disability appeals.

This material is for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and the reader, and does not constitute legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case, and the contents of this blog are not a substitute for legal counsel.

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