V.A. Burial Benefits

Find Out What Burial Costs Are Paid For
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The V.A. offers several types of burial-related assistance to the families of veterans. The type of assistance available depends on the veteran's benefits status at the time of death and whether the veteran's cause of death was a service-related disability. Burial at a national cemetery is also available for the spouse or dependent of a veteran.

Burial in a national or state veterans cemetery: Any veteran

Any veteran (not dishonorably discharged) is eligible for burial at a grave site in any of the 131 national cemeteries or in a state veterans cemetery in the state where the veteran lived at the time of death. Whether a veteran can be buried in a particular cemetery depends on whether there are grave sites available there. Grave sites cannot be reserved prior to the veteran's death.

There's no cost to the family for the grave site or for a government headstone or marker, which the cemetery provides. This burial site and assistance doesn't include either arrangements for or the cost of a funeral or cremation, which must be obtained privately.

Spouses and dependents may also be buried in a national cemetery, with the veteran. The spouse's or dependent's name, date of birth, and date of death will be inscribed on the veteran's headstone, at no cost to the family. Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried in a national cemetery even if they die before the veteran.

Headstone for burial in private cemetery: Any veteran

For any veteran who's buried in a private cemetery, the V.A. will provide (at no cost to the family) a government headstone or marker and a burial flag. However, arrangements for placing the headstone in a private cemetery, and the fees for setting the headstone, are the responsibility of the veteran's family. No headstone is provided for the spouse or dependent of a veteran buried in a private cemetery.

Funeral and burial costs allowance: Certain qualifying veterans

The families of certain deceased veterans are paid a funeral and burial allowance by the V.A. In order to qualify for an allowance, one of the following conditions must be met:

  • The veteran died from a service-related disability.

  • The veteran was receiving a V.A. pension or compensation at the time of death (or had filed for such benefits and after death was found to be entitled to them).

  • The veteran died at a V.A. hospital, or while receiving care at a non-V.A. hospital under contract from the V.A.

  • The veteran died during travel, authorized and paid for by the V.A., for the purpose of receiving medical care.

The amount of the allowance depends on whether the death was service-related.

Service-related death. If the qualifying veteran died from a service-related disability, the V.A. pays up to $2,000 for burial expenses, plus transportation costs to a V.A. national cemetery if buried there. (The V.A. won't pay this allowance if the burial was paid for by insurance or by anyone other than the person applying for the allowance.)

Nonservice-related death. If the qualifying veteran's death wasn't caused by a service-related disability, the V.A. will pay up to $300 for funeral and burial expenses and up to another $300 for the cost of a burial plot or interment space.

How can I apply for V.A. burial benefits?

Arrangements for burial in a national or state cemetery cannot be made online. Instead, you must telephone the V.A. at its toll-free number at 800-827-1000.

To apply for a burial allowance, you need to fill out and submit V.A. form 21-530.

What's needed to apply for V.A. burial benefits?

Burial in a national or state cemetery or a V.A. burial allowance. You must provide a copy of the veteran's (or spouse's, if it's the spouse to be buried) death certificate and a certified copy of the veteran's military discharge document. Form DD 214 is the standard discharge document that's been used for the past 60 years. But for World War II veterans discharged before 1950, the documents might instead be entitled WD AGO 53, WD AGO 55, WD AGO 53-55, NAVPERS 553, NAVMC 78PD, or NAVCG 553. Find forms at the V.A.'s website.

Burial allowance. To obtain an allowance for funeral, burial, and/or interment expenses, in addition to the deceased's death certificate and the veteran's discharge document, you must provide copies of the funeral, burial, burial plot, or interment bills, plus evidence that you've paid them in full.

Where can I get help applying for V.A. burial benefits?

If you're unable to locate a discharge document among the veteran's papers, you can get a copy online through the National Archives eVetRecs request system or by calling the V.A.'s toll-free help line at 800-827-1000.

You can get free assistance with any V.A.-related question or problem by phone or in person through one of the V.A.'s Vet Centers, which are located in every state. You can also get assistance by contacting the V.A.'s Veterans Benefits Administration office nearest you. The V.A. also has a toll-free telephone help line at 800-827-1000.

Joseph L. Matthews

Joseph Matthews is an attorney and the author of numerous books, including Social Security, Medicare, and Government Pensions, Long-Term Care: How to Plan and Pay for It; How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim; and The Lawyer Who Blew up His Desk. See full bio

9 months, said...

Thirty two years ago (before I remarried and divorced,) when my veteran husband passed away, I went to the local Verterans' Office at the local courthouse in Lyons Georgia and asked about benefits. They told me that me nkr our children was eligible for any type of benefits. we had a 16 year old special needs child also. Is this true. Just asking at this late date!!

over 1 year, said...

I lost my husband last year on Sept 11, 2015 was non service. He is cremated and buried in V A cemetery . If I pass away as his spouse what will they pay for me . I am not a Veteran but they said a spouse can be cremated and buried with him. So how much about will they pay. How much do I have to pay?

almost 2 years, said...

From what I have read about Veterans Burial Benefits and the qualifications needed to be eligible for these benefits makes me believe I would not qualify for these burial benefits. I receive no military pension and I have never received any medical attention from a VA hospital. The only Veterans Benefits I have received is two VA loans to purchase a house. I enlisted in the Navy Reserve in Feb. 1966 and received an honorable discharge in Jan. 1968. As I said the only connection I have had with any military or veterans benefits have been for the purchase of a house, the last one was in Jan. 2000. And after reading what makes a veteran qualified it appears I would not be able to put in for the burial benefits. Am I right in my presumption?

over 3 years, said...

My father-in-law was a veteran and died in 1999. He was cremated but never buried in the national cemetery. When my mother-in-law dies can she be buried in the national cemetery even though he isn't? She also wishes to be cremated. Thank you.

almost 5 years, said...

I am a retired US Army Msgt and my first wife passed away 10 years ago. She is buried at a National Cemetery. I have since remarried and my spouses ex husband who is a veteran is buried at the same National Cemetery. Because of past abuses from her ex she wants to be buried with me. Are 3 burials at the same gravesite permitted?

about 5 years, said...

Im a 100% disabled vet.My wife is sick & will pass before myself. She wants to be cremated. All I need help with is cremation.

about 5 years, said...

This does not relate to burial benefits, but my dad was in the Navy during the Korean and Vietnam war. He died in March 2011. At his service they gave the flag to my little sister, (who is adopted). I just want to know if anyone can tell me, by rights was I to receive his flag? What can I do to get a flag, since she won't give his up to me? I don't think she told them I was even a family member.

over 5 years, said...

On July 17,2011,I have applied for VA pension for my mother 82 yrs.(a widow) to help with medical bills.She qualified.My father is a WW11 vet. It is 9 months and she still did not receive benefits. I found out they are still working in the end of 2011. So who knows when she'll receive benefits and if she lives till then. This is terrible we are counting for this help. But we still haven't given up , some day they will come through !

over 5 years, said...

My dad is a WWII vet; age 94 in poor health and poor finances. I was looking tosee if there were any VA benefits to offset the cost of burial in a private cemetary when the Vet did hot die as the result of injuries sustained in the line of duty. If I understood correctly what I just read, there are some small benefits. Every little bit helps.

over 5 years, said...

My father died in 2007. He was a veteran of the Korean War. My mother died in November 2012. She did not have life insurance. Someone told me I should check with the VA just to see if there might be some help available to us for helping to pay the funeral expenses.

over 5 years, said...

very informative

about 6 years, said...

My father died last May 02, 2012 just want to ask if I can get the burial benefits for his burial?

over 6 years, said...

I'm of an age where it's a possibility in the not to distant future. I never knew some of these benefits were even available. Thanks

over 6 years, said...

Husband a WW11 veteran and I will print out this info and have on file when needed. Info so clear,easy to understand. Thanks a million or should I say Trillion. lol