Many veterans and family members are aware the VA pays for burial expenses. However, often families over estimate how much the VA will pay for burial expenses. This post discusses who is eligible for VA burial benefits and how much the VA will pay.
Veterans, spouses, and dependents are eligible for burial at a VA national cemetery at no cost. This includes the gravesite, grave-liner, opening and closing of the grave, headstone or marker, and perpetual care. The veteran may receive a burial flag and military funeral honors.
A surviving spouse of a veteran who died on or after January 1, 2000 will not lose eligibility for burial in a national cemetery even if they remarry.
Parents of service members who die during actual conflict or from combat training injuries may be eligible for burial with their child in a national cemetery.
WHAT ARE VA BURIAL ALLOWANCES?
VA burial allowances are flat-rate monetary benefits that are generally paid at the maximum amount authorized by law for an eligible Veteran’s burial and funeral costs. A VA regulation change in 2014 simplified the program to pay eligible survivors quickly and efficiently. Eligible surviving spouses of record are paid automatically upon notification of a Veteran’s death, without the need to submit a claim. VA may grant additional benefits, including the plot or interment allowance and transportation allowance, if it receives a claim for these benefits.
WHO IS ELIGIBLE? If the burial benefit has not been automatically paid to the surviving spouse, VA will pay the first living person to file a claim of those listed below:
• The Veteran’s surviving spouse, OR
• The survivor of a legal union* between the deceased Veteran and the survivor, OR
• The Veteran’s children, regardless of age, OR
• The Veteran’s parents or surviving parent, OR
• The executor or administrator of the estate of the deceased Veteran.
*Legal union means a formal relationship between the decedent and the survivor existed on the date of the Veteran’s death, which was recognized under the law of the State in which the couple formalized the relationship and evidenced by the State’s issuance of documentation memorializing the relationship.
The Veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:
• The Veteran died as a result of a service-connected disability, OR
• The Veteran was receiving VA pension or compensation at the time of death, OR
• The Veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation, but decided to receive his or her full military retirement or disability pay, OR
• The Veteran died while hospitalized by VA, or while receiving care under VA contract at a nonVA facility, OR
• The Veteran died while traveling under proper authorization and at VA expense to, or from, a specified place for the purpose of examination, treatment, or care, OR
• The Veteran had an original or reopened claim for VA compensation or pension pending at the time of death and would have been entitled to benefits from a date prior to the date of death, OR
• The Veteran died on, or after, October 9, 1996, while a patient at a VA-approved state nursing home. Pension and Fiduciary Service – October, 2016.
HOW MUCH DOES VA PAY?
Service-Connected Death If the Veteran died on or after September 1, 2001, the maximum service-connected burial allowance is $2,000. If the Veteran died before September 11, 2001, the maximum service-connected burial allowance is $1,500. If the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, VA may reimburse some or all of the costs of transporting the deceased Veteran’s remains.
Non Service-Connected Death
• If the Veteran died on or after October 1, 2016, VA will pay a $300 burial allowance and $749 for a plot.
• If the Veteran died on or after October 1, 2015, but before October 1, 2016, VA will pay a $300 burial allowance and $747 for a plot.
• If the Veteran died on or after October 1, 2014, but before October 1, 2015, VA will pay $300 for burial allowance and $745 for a plot.
Effective October 1, 2011, there are higher non-service-connected death rates payable if the Veteran was hospitalized by VA at the time of his or her death.
• If the Veteran died on or after October 1, 2016, VA will pay a $749 burial allowance and $749 for a plot.
• If the Veteran died on or after October 1, 2015, but before October 1, 2016, VA will pay a $747 burial allowance and $747 for a plot.
• If the Veteran died on or after October 1, 2014, but before October 1, 2015, VA will pay a $745 burial allowance and $745 for a plot.
If the death occurred 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.
Note: If the Veteran dies while traveling at VA expense for the purpose of examination, treatment, or care, VA will pay burial and plot allowances and transportation expenses.
If a Veteran dies and their remains are unclaimed, the entity responsible for the burial of the Veteran would be entitled to a $300 burial allowance. If the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, VA may reimburse the cost of transporting the deceased Veterans remains. VA may also reimburse for the cost of a plot.
HOW CAN YOU APPLY?
You can apply by completing VA Form 21P-530 Application for Burial Benefits. You should attach a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge document (DD Form 214 or equivalent) and a death certificate. If you are claiming transportation expenses, please attach a receipt for the expenses paid. You can call us toll-free within the U.S. by dialing 1-800-827-1000.
Who is eligible for Military Funeral Honors?
- Military members who died while on active duty or in the Selected Reserve
- Former military members who served on active duty or in the Selected Reserve and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions
- Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions
- Further clarification on eligibility is available on our DoD Policy page.
- Folding of flag and presentation to family
- Playing of taps
- Active Duty Military and Retired Military will be eligible for full military honors to include pallbearers firing of rifles.
You must submit all relevant evidence in your possession and/or provide information sufficient to enable VA to obtain all relevant evidence not in your possession. This includes the following as part of your application:
- Discharge or separation papers (DD214 or equivalent)
- Service Treatment Records if they are in your possession (see the Veterans Records Destroyed in 1973 Fire if you suspect your records may have been involved in the 1973 NPRC fire)
- Medical evidence (doctor & hospital reports).
Information for this post was provided by Forest Ridge Funeral Home a locally owned operated by the Land and Medina Families. The Staff of Forest Ridge have established a new standard of excellence in personalized funeral service for 21 years. A funeral is a time for sharing and caring in its deepest sense, Forest Ridge Funeral Home ensures special care is given to accommodate the customs and traditions to families they serve. A variety of price and service options are available to offer value with respect to financial circumstances. In the true tradition of personal service, Forest Ridge Funeral Home strives to provide superior service and commitment to the families they serve and the community.
Forest Ridge has two locations:
Memorial Park Chapel
8525 Mid Cities Blvd.
North Richland Hills, Texas 76182
Forest Ridge Funeral Home
705 Airport Freeway
Hurst, Texas 76053
If you have any questions or would like to speak to us about Veterans benefits, please don’t hesitate to reach out and contact Euless, Texas Estate Planning, Elder Law, Special Needs Planning and Veterans Benefits Attorney, Antoinette Bone, at (817) 462-5454 or email [email protected]
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Nothing in this message is intended to provide legal advice. This message is for educational purposes only.