Who is Eligible
To be eligible you must be a veteran discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, and have completed the required period of service. U.S. Armed Forces members who die on active duty are also eligible, as are spouses and dependent children of eligible living and deceased veterans, and of current and deceased armed forces members. Contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at (800) 827-1000 for more information.
How do you apply?
Veterans benefits are not paid automatically. It is your responsibility to contact the Veterans Administration. To ensure prompt handling of your claim, have the following information ready:
~ Social Security number for yourself and your dependent children
~ Certified copy of original DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty)
~ Certified copy of Death Certificate
~ Verification of the life insurance amount you will receive as a result of the veterans death
~ Paid receipts for hospital and doctor bills incurred by last illness, if applicable
~ Paid receipts for funeral and cemetery expenses
~ If either yourself or the veteran was previously married, provide a certified copy of the original divorce decree or death certificate proving the previous marriage was dissolved by divorce or death
~ If there are dependent children, you will need an original birth certificate for each child under 18 or over 18 if full-time student
~ If over 18 and still in school, you will need to fill out VA Form 21-674
~ If you or the veteran receive Social Security Benefits, the exact amount must be reported
~ If you already have a VA claim number, you must furnish the claim number you have been assigned
~ If you or the veteran receive additional income, the source and exact amount must be reported
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses
Service-Connected Death - VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001. VA will pay up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 10, 2001. If the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some of all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
Non Service-Connected Death - For deaths on or after October 1, 2011, VA will pay up to $700.00 toward burial and funeral expenses (if properly hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (if not properly hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $700.00 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery). For deaths on or after December 1, 2001, but before October 1, 2011, VA will pay up to $300.00 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300.00 plot-interment allowance. The plot-interment allowance is $150.00 for deaths prior to December 1, 2001. If the death happened while the Veteran was properly hospitalized by VA, or under VA contracted nursing home care, some or all of the costs for transporting the Veteran's remains may be reimbursed.
An annual increase in burial and plot allowances for deaths occurring after October 1, 2011, begins in fiscal year 2013 based on the Consumer Price Index for the preceding 12-month period as follows;
~ Effective October 1, 2012, the $700 burial/funeral and plot/interment allowance was increased to $722.
~ Effective October 1, 2013, the $722 burial/funeral and plot/interment allowance was increased to $734.
Note: If the Veteran dies while traveling under proper authorization and at VA expense to or from a specified place for the purpose of examination, treatment or care, burial, funeral, plot, interment, and transportation expenses will be allowed as though death occurred while properly hospitalized by VA.
VA provides an American flag to drape the casket of a veteran and to a person entitled to retired military pay. After the funeral service, the flag may be given to the next of kin or a close associate. VA also will issue a flag on behalf of a service member who was missing in action and later presumed dead. Flags are issued at VA regional offices, national cemeteries, and post offices.
Burial in National VA Cemeteries
Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria for the inurnment of cremated remains or special gravesites for the burial of cremated remains. Headstones and markers and their placement are provided at the government's expense.
Veterans and armed forces members who die on active duty are eligible for burial in one of VA's 114 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under honorable or general conditions and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible.
Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a non-veteran, and whose remarriage was terminated by death or divorce, is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved. Funeral directors or others making burial arrangements must apply at the time of death. Reservations made under previous programs are honored. The National Cemetery System normally does not conduct burials on weekends. A weekend caller, however, will be directed to on of three strategically located VA cemetery offices that remain open during weekends to schedule burials at the cemetery of the caller's choice during the following week.
VA Headstones and Markers