VA Burial Benefits

OUR OFFICE UNDERSTANDS THERE IS NEVER A EASY WAY TO COMFORT A MOURNING FAMILY WHO HAS JUST LOST THEIR LOVED ONE. THIS PAGE FOCUSES ON DIFFERENT VA FORMS, AND BURIAL BENEFITS ALLOWABLE TO SURVIVING FAMILY MEMBERS OF THE VETERANS.  NOT EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO VA BURIAL BENEFITS - IT DEPENDS ON THE VETERAN AND DIFFERENT VARIABLES OR CIRCUMSTANCES.  

FUNERAL HOMES ARRANGE FAMILIES WISHES OF HAVING MILITARY HONORS FOR FUNERAL. The rendering of Military Funeral Honors for an eligible veteran, free of charge, is mandated by law. An honor guard detail for the burial of an eligible veteran shall consist of not less than two members of the Armed Forces. One member of the detail shall be a representative of the parent Service of the deceased veteran. The honor detail will, at a minimum, perform a ceremony that includes the folding and presenting of the American flag to the next of kin and the playing of Taps. When available taps will be played by a bugler, however there are so few buglers available that the military services may choose to provide an electronic recording of taps. The veteran's parent Service representative will present the flag.

Funeral Honors Eligibility

  • Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
  • Former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
  • BURIAL FLAGS ARE AQUIRED TO FUNERAL HOME DIRECTORS PRIOR TO SERVICES.   AQUIRED PRIOR TO SERVICES.  

IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW YOUR LOVED ONE MAY BE ELIGIBLE FOR A STANDARD GOVERNMENT MARKER OR MADALLION IF THEY PASSED AWAY ON OR AFTER NOVEMBER 1, 1990.  UNMARKED GRAVES OF VETERANS MAY RECEIVE A MARKER IF THEY PASSED AWAY PRIOR TO NOVEMBER 1, 1990.  

COUNTY VA OFFICES GIVE A FLAG HOLDER/GRAVE MARKER OUT IN ADDITION TO THE STANDARD GOVERNMENT MARKER.  THE BRONZE FLAG HOLDER WILL REFLECT THE VETERAN'S WARTIME, OR PEACETIME IN WHICH THEY SERVED.  EXAMPLE:   A VETERAN SERVED DURING THE VIETNAM ERA 1961-1975 BUT WAS NEVER BOOTS ON GROUND IN COUNTRY; HE/SHE STILL IS ENTITLED TO A VIETNAM FLAG HOLDER DUE TO THE ERA OR TIME PERIOD SERVED.

ONCE A VETERAN PASSES AWAY FAMILIES NEED TO FILL OUT A APPLICATION FOR BURIAL BENEFITS 21P-530 -  IF A VETERAN WAS RECEIVING A VA PENSION OR WAS SERVICE-CONNECTED AT THE TIME OF DEATH.  THIS WILL ENSURE THE FAMILY RECEIVES THE FINAL DEATH CHECK OF BENEFITS (WILL BE MAILED OUT). DIFFERENT PAYOUTS OF BURIAL BENEFITS DEPENDS ON IF THE VETERAN WAS SERVICE-CONNECTED OR RECEIVING A PENSION, IF HE/SHE DIED AT A VA MEDICAL CENTER OR VA CERTIFIED NURSING HOME, AND IF THE DEATH WAS RELATED TO THE SERVICE-CONNECTION GRANTED.  IT'S BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY AND SUBMIT THE FORM.  

https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-burial.asp

Burial Benefits

Effective July 7, 2014: VA is changing its monetary burial benefits regulations to simplify the program and pay eligible survivors more quickly and efficiently. These regulations will authorize VA to pay, without a written application, most eligible surviving spouses basic monetary burial benefits at the maximum amount authorized in law through automated systems rather than reimbursing them for actual costs incurred.

  • Under the current regulations, VA pays for burial and funeral expenses on a reimbursement basis, which requires survivors to submit receipts for relatively small one-time payments that VA generally pays at the maximum amount permitted by law.
  • The new burial regulations will permit VA to pay, at a flat rate, burial and plot or interment allowances thereby enabling VA to automate payment of burial benefits to most eligible surviving spouses and more efficiently process other burial benefit claims.
  • The burial allowance for a non-service-connected death is $300, and $2,000 for a death connected to military service.
  • MONETARY BURIAL BENEFITS ARE FOR VETERANS WHO AT THE TIME OF THEIR DEATH WAS RECEIVING A VA PENSION OR SERVICE-CONNECTED COMPENSATION.

Benefit

Service-related Death

VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001, or up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 11, 2001. If the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.

Non-service-related Death

VA will pay up to $762 toward burial and funeral expenses for deaths on or after October 1, 2017 (if hospitalized by VA at time of death), or $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (if not hospitalized by VA at time of death), and a $762 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 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300 plot-interment allowance. For deaths on or after April 1, 1988 but before October 1, 2011, VA will pay $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (for Veterans hospitalized by VA at the time of death).

An annual increase in burial and plot allowances for deaths occurring after October 1, 2011 began in fiscal year 2013 based on the Consumer Price Index for the preceding 12-month period. 

Eligibility Requirements

  • You paid for a Veteran's burial or funeral, AND
  • You have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased Veteran's employer, AND
  • The Veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, AND
    • The Veteran died because of a service-related 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 not to reduce his/her military retirement or disability pay, OR
    • The Veteran died while hospitalized by VA, or while receiving care under VA contract at a non-VA 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 pending at the time of death and has been found entitled to compensation or pension from a date prior to the date or death, OR
    • The Veteran died on or after October 9, 1996, while a patient at a VA-approved state nursing home.

NOTE: VA does not pay burial benefits if the deceased:

  • Died during active military service, OR
  • Was a member of Congress who died while holding office, OR
  • Was a Federal prisoner

Evidence Requirements:

  • Acceptable proof of death as specified in 38 CFR 3.211., AND
  • Receipted bills that show that you made payment in whole or part, OR
  • A statement of account, preferably on the printed billhead of the funeral director or cemetery owner. The statement of account must show:
    • The name of the deceased Veteran for whom the services and merchandise were furnished, AND
    • The nature and cost of the services and merchandise, AND
    • All credits, AND
    • The amount of the unpaid balance, if any

How to Apply

Additional Information

Other information regarding VA burial benefits such as flags, headstones and markers is provided by the National Cemetery Administration.