Veteran Death Benefits

As a way to honor our fallen veterans, the VA offers various benefits for deceased veterans and their families. From burial in a national cemetery to allowances for funeral arrangements, there’s a lot of information surrounding military veteran death benefits.

To get a closer look at what’s involved, we’ll touch on veteran death benefits for cremations and burials, along with eligibility requirements for potential burial allowances to help pay for funeral costs.

Veteran Death Benefits – Cremation

For cremation of a deceased veteran, the benefits received include:

All of these benefits are available at no cost to the family.

Veteran Death Benefits – Burial

Burial benefits for a deceased veteran are essentially the same as the benefits of a veteran cremation. The benefits include:

  • A gravesite in one of 136 national cemeteries with available space
  • Opening and closing of the grave
  • Perpetual care
  • A government headstone or marker
  • A burial flag
  • A Presidential Memorial Certificate
  • Potential burial allowances

All of these benefits are available at no cost to the family.

Military Veteran Death Benefits

Since the veteran’s family will make funeral and cremation arrangements with a funeral provider or cremation office, these expenses will be at the family’s expense. That’s where burial allowances come in.

Here, we’ll go into more details about potential military veteran death allowances as far as it relates to service- or non-service-related deaths, eligibility and evidence requirements, and how to apply for VA death benefits.

Service-Related Death

In the tragic event of a service-related death, the VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for those who died on or after September 11, 2001, or up to $1,500 toward burial expenses for those who died before September 11, 2001.

Additionally, if the deceased veteran is to be buried in a VA national cemetery, part or all of the cost to transport the body may be reimbursed.

Non-Service-Related Death

If a veteran died in a non-service-related death, the VA will pay up to $780 toward burial and funeral expenses for those who died on or after October 1, 2011 (if they were hospitalized by the VA at time of death) and a plot-interment allowance of $780 if not buried in a national cemetery.

If the deceased was not hospitalized by the VA at time of death, the VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and will pay a plot-interment allowance of $780 if not buried in a national cemetery.

For veteran deaths on or after December 1, 2001, but before October 1, 2011, the VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and a plot-interment allowance of $300.

For veteran deaths on or after April 1, 1988, but before October 1, 2011, the VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (if they were hospitalized by the VA at time of death).

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for military veteran death benefits:

  • You paid for a veteran’s burial or funeral, and
  • You have not been reimbursed by another government agency or another source, such as the employer of the deceased veteran, and
  • The veteran had a discharge status other than dishonorable, and
    – The veteran died due to a service-related disability, or
    – The veteran was receiving a pension or compensation from the VA at time of death, or
    – The veteran was entitled to a VA pension or benefits but decided not to reduce his or her military retirement or disability pay, or
    – The veteran died while hospitalized by the VA or while receiving care during a VA contract at a non-VA facility, or
    – The veteran died while traveling with proper authorization at the expense of the VA to or from a location for the purpose of examination, or
    – The veteran had an original or reopened claim that was pending at the time of death and has been found to be entitled to VA compensation or pension prior to the date of death, or
    – The veteran died on or after October 9, 1996, while they were a patient at a VA-approved state nursing facility.

To be clear, the VA does not pay for burial and funeral benefits if the deceased:

  • Died during active military service, or
  • Was a member of Congress and died while holding office, or
  • Was in federal prison.

Evidence Requirements

In order to prove that you are eligible to receive military death benefits from the VA, you must have the following:

  • Acceptable proof of death
  • Receipts that show you paid for the funeral and burial in part or in full
  • Statement of account (preferably on the billhead of the funeral director or cemetery owner) showing:
    – The name of the deceased veteran for whom the funeral services and merchandise were furnished, and
    – The nature and cost of services and merchandise, and
    – All credits, and
    – The unpaid balance, if applicable

How to Apply

Finally, you’ll need to apply for military veteran death benefits if you are eligible and have verifiable proof of eligibility. There are a few ways to apply.

What are the Death Benefits for a Veteran?

To sum everything up, here’s what’s included in the death benefits for a deceased veteran at no cost to the family:

  • Gravesite or urn at a national cemetery
  • Opening and closing of the grave
  • Government headstone or marker
  • Burial flag
  • Presidential Memorial Certificate

Additionally, eligible spouses and dependents can be buried in a national cemetery with the deceased veteran, even if the spouse or dependents predecease the veteran. Spouse and dependents’ names, dates of birth and death will be inscribed on the veteran’s headstone.

Funeral and cremation arrangements are paid for by the families but they may receive burial allowances if eligible.

For more information about military veteran death benefits, check out the National Cemetery Administration webpage.

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