Veteran Burial and Memorial Survivor Benefits
Deceased veterans and service members of the United States military and their dependents and survivors are often eligible to receive certain benefits.
Who is Eligible for Burial and Memorial Benefits?
Eligible parties include veterans discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, service members who die during active duty or during training, and their spouses or dependents. Dependent children must be unmarried and less than 21 years of age or less than 23 years of age if enrolled in a VA-approved school full-time. Children who became disabled before the age of 21 (or 23 if enrolled in an approved school full-time) are also eligible to receive benefits.
The Veterans Administration National Cemetery Scheduling Office or local national cemetery director will verify eligibility.
Which Burial and Memorial Costs are Covered?
If the death of a veteran is service-connected, survivors are given $2,000 to cover burial expenses.
All eligible veterans, their spouses and dependents are provided with burial in a VA national cemetery, which entails a gravesite, grave-liner, opening and closing of grave, headstone or marker, and perpetual care as a national shrine. Veterans are also provided with a burial flag and military funeral honors.
Contact a national cemetery or visit www.cem.va.gov to find a cemetery open for new burials. A funeral home representative can make arrangements with the National Cemetery Scheduling Office. It should be noted that the VA generally does not conduct burials on weekends.
All veterans, active duty service members, reservists and National Guard service members are eligible to receive an inscribed headstone or marker at any cemetery. A number of choices are available; however, burial at a national cemetery may require the style to be consistent with monuments already in place. A medallion can be affixed to a privately-purchased headstone or marker.
Burial Allowance – Veterans who were entitled to receive a pension, military retirement pay or another type of compensation at the time of death are allocated a burial and funeral allowance that is subject to change according to the Consumer Price Index. The most recent compensation was $300 towards burial and funeral expenses if not hospitalized by the VA at the time of death.
Plot-Interment Allowance – A veteran is eligible to receive a plot allowance for burial at a cemetery other than a national cemetery if the veteran was discharged from active duty due to disability or if he or she was receiving compensation or pension at the time of death. The compensation is subject to change according to the Consumer Price Index, but was most recently $700.
Can I Receive Reimbursement for Burial Expenses?
The person who is charged for the initial burial expenses can request reimbursement from the VA. There is no time limit for filing a reimbursement claim. If a veteran’s death is service-related, the VA will provide a burial allowance up to $2,000. If the eligible veteran’s death is non-service-related, they are provided with a burial allowance or plot-interment allowance (see above).
How do I Apply for Burial Benefits?
Apply for Burial Benefits using VA Form 21-530. You’ll need to attach a copy of the veteran’s military discharge papers (DD 214 or equivalent), death certificate, and receipts for funeral and burial services paid in full.
Presidential Memorial Certificates can be issued by request for honorably discharged deceased veterans. VA Form 40-0247 will need to be filled out and submitted along with proof of honorable military service.
Burial Flag – A Burial Flag is provided by the VA to drape over the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran. It is generally given to the next of kin after its use during the funeral service. If there is no next-of-kin, a friend may make a request for it. A funeral home representative will help you obtain the flag, however, you can apply for the flag yourself by completing VA Form 27-2008.
“No-Fee” passports are available to survivors for the express purpose of visiting their loved-one’s grave if it is located in an American military cemetery on foreign soil.
VA Vet Centers provide bereavement counseling to all family members of a deceased service member or veteran. Call (202) 461-6530 for more information.
Death Gratuity Payment
If a service member dies while on active duty, during training or as a result of a service-connected injury or illness then the eligible next of kin will automatically be paid $100,000 by military services. If a retiree dies within 120 days of separation due to a service-related illness or injury, eligible beneficiaries will receive a one-time payment of $12,420.
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
DIC is available for dependents if a service member dies during active duty, during active duty for training or due to an injury, illness or aggravation of an injury or illness incurred during these times. Apply for DIC using VA Form 21-534. Monthly payments are made based on a number of factors such as the dates of service, the number of dependents in the home and the income of the recipient.
Low-income survivors of a veteran may be eligible to receive a death pension. The veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable and have had 90 days of active military service. The monthly payment is determined by the survivor’s income and living situation. Apply for Death Pension using VA Form 21-534.
Survivors’ & Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA)
Qualifying dependents of a deceased veteran may be eligible to receive educational assistance no more than 10 years after the date of death. The death of the veteran must have been service-connected. The eligibility period for spouses of deceased service members who were on active duty at the time of death is no more than 20 years after the date of death. Fill out VA Form 22-5490 to apply for DEA.
VA Home Loan Guaranty
The surviving spouse of a veteran who died as a result of service-connected disabilities is provided with one guaranteed home loan. The spouse must be unmarried or cannot be remarried until after the age of 57 in order to qualify. Fill out VA Form 26-1817 to apply for the Home Loan Guaranty.