VA Burial Benefits

VA burial benefits assist families in shouldering the costs of burying their loved ones with dignity and care. Benefit levels vary, depending on when and how veterans pass away.

They are also influenced by where the veteran is to be buried and what other sources of support, if any, families have in affording funeral and burial services. Families are not eligible for benefits it a veteran was dishonorably discharged from military service.

The veterans burial benefits program was significantly updated in 2014 to streamline the application and benefits payments processes. As of July 2014, families no longer need to provide receipts for funeral and burial related expenses and await reimbursement. Under the new processes, eligible families receive standardized electronic payments in set amounts, regardless of their actual costs. To further increase convenience and access, VA funeral benefits applications can be submitted online, as well as in person or by mail.

VA Burial Benefits Eligibility

A family is eligible for veterans funeral benefits if they have paid for the veterans’ funeral and/or burial out-of-pocket. Families cannot receive VA reimbursement for expenses paid by other government agencies, insurance companies or third parties such as the deceased’s workplace. Applicants are also ineligible for veterans burial benefits if the veteran was:

  • Dishonorably discharged.
  • On active duty military service at the time of death.
  • A member of Congress at the time of death.
  • Incarcerated in a federal prison at the time of death.

Families can receive VA funeral benefits if a veteran:

  • Died as the result of a service-related disability.
  • Was receiving VA pensions or compensation when they passed away.
  • Was eligible for but had elected not to receive VA pensions or compensation.
  • Died while receiving VA care in a VA facility or under VA contract at any other facility.
  • Died in transit to VA-authorized medical services, appointments, care or treatment.
  • Had pending VA claims entitling them to backdated benefits.
  • Died while receiving care at a VA-approved or contracted nursing home prior to October 10, 1996.

Documenting VA Burial Benefits Eligibility

Families applying for VA funeral benefits must supply the VA with documentation of a veteran’s death, their eligibility for benefits and the expenses associated with the funeral and burial. If any portions of the funeral or burial services were paid for by insurance or third parties, applicants must provide that information as well.

By law, applicants may submit any of the following with their veterans burial benefits applications as proof of death:

  • State or local public records from the location where the death happened
  • Coroners reports or coroners’ jury verdicts identifying the deceased
  • Death certificates signed by the medical officers in attendance at the time of death
  • Clinical summaries or reports indicating the deceased and date of death, signed by authorized medical officers
  • Official military reports issued by the presiding Secretary, when the deceased was on Active Duty, Inactive Duty or Retired status rosters at the time of death
  • Consulate reports signed and sealed by the appropriate United States consul, where death occurred abroad
  • Consul-authenticated public death records from another country, where death occurred abroad
  • Official government agency reports, where the deceased was an agency civilian employee at the time of death

In rare occasions where none of the above are available, families seeking VA death burial benefits for a spouse or parent may be permitted to submit affidavits or other documentation instead.

In addition to evidence of death, families must also submit evidence of the costs associated with the funeral, any discounts, credits or third payments against those costs, and the total balances remaining to be paid, where applicable. In most cases, funeral directors and cemetery owners can provide comprehensive statements to this effect upon request.

Veterans Burial Benefits Payouts

Since the 2014 program overhaul, veterans funeral benefits have been paid out in automated, flat-rate allowances. Families of veterans and service members who passed away for service-related reasons may receive the following VA burial benefits:

  • Up to $1,500 for veterans who passed before September 11, 2001
  • Up to $2,000 for veterans who passed on or after September 11, 2001
  • Some reimbursement of transportation costs is the deceased was interred at a national cemetery

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Families of veterans or service members whose deaths were not service-related may be eligible for the following VA funeral benefits:

  • Up to $780 for veterans who passed on October 1, 2018 or later and were in a VA hospital at the time of their deaths
  • Up to $300 for veterans who passed away on October 1, 2018 or later and were not in a VA hospital at the time of death, plus a $780 internment allowance, except where the deceased is to be buried in a national cemetery.
  • Up to $300 for veterans who passed away between December 1, 2001 and September 30, 2011, plus a $300 interment allowance
  • $300 for veterans who passed away between April 1, 1988 and September 30, 2011 who were in a VA hospital at the time of death

Veterans funeral benefits and interment allowances are cost-adjusted annually.

Applying for VA Burial Benefits

Families can apply for veterans funeral benefits online, in person or by mail:

  • Online applications are available through the VA’s website.
  • Mail-in applications begin with printing and completing VA burial benefits Form 21P-530. Families can mail finished forms to their local Pension Management Center (PMC).
  • In-person applications are accepted by all PMCs, and authorized representatives are available to PMCs to assist families with the forms and application process as needed. Alternatively, families may submit their applications through their local regional benefits offices.

Regardless of the methods by which they choose to apply, applicants will need to submit all required information before benefits requests can be processed.

Other Veterans Funeral Resources

Families of deceased veterans often have questions about non-benefits aspects of arranging veterans funerals. These may include appropriate use and application of flags and other symbols, inquires about headstones and other markers and VA life insurance claims. Generally, families should direct all non-benefits questions to the National Cemetery Administration rather than the VA. However, PMC-authorized representatives may also be able to assist families with veterans burial planning questions and processes.

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