Who is eligible?
To be eligible you must be a veteran discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, and have completed the required period of service. U.S. Armed Forces members who die on active duty are also eligible, as are spouses and dependent children of eligible living and deceased veterans, and of current and deceased armed forces members. Contact your local Veterans’ Agent (check with your town’s clerk) or the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at (800) 827-1000 for more information.
How do you apply?
Veterans benefits are not paid automatically. It is your responsibility to contact the Veterans Administration. To ensure prompt handling of your claim, have the following information ready:
- Social Security number for yourself and your dependent children
- Certified copy of original DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty)
- Certified copy of Death Certificate
- Verification of the life insurance amount you will receive as a result of the veterans death
- Paid receipts for hospital and doctor bills incurred by last illness, if applicable
- Paid receipts for funeral and cemetery expenses
- If either yourself or the veteran was previously married, provide a certified copy of the original divorce decree or death certificate proving the previous marriage was dissolved by divorce or death
- If there are dependent children, you will need an original birth certificate for each child under 18 or over 18 if full-time student
- If over 18 and still in school, you will need to fill out VA Form 21-674
- If you or the veteran receive Social Security Benefits, the exact amount must be reported
- If you already have a VA claim number, you must furnish the claim number you have been assigned
- If you or the veteran receive additional income, the source and exact amount must be reported
Reimbursement of Burial Expenses
The Veterans’ Administration will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the veteran's death is service connected. The VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of a deceased that has available gravesites. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran's burial expenses may claim reimbursement from the VA. They will pay a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled to compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. Eligibility also is established when death occurs in a VA facility or a nursing home with which VA contracted. Additional costs of transportation of the remains may be reimbursed. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims of service-connected deaths. In other deaths, claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial or cremation.
VA will pay a $300 plot allowance when the veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under U.S. Government jurisdiction if the veteran is discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty, if the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would have been in receipt of compensation but for receipt of military retired pay, or if the veteran died while hospitalized by VA. The plot allowance is not payable solely on wartime service.
If the veteran is buried without charge for the cost of a plot or interment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for veteran burials, the $300 plot allowance may be paid to the state. Burial expenses paid by the deceased's employer or a state agency will not be reimbursed.
Burial in National Cemeteries VA Cemeteries
Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria for the inurnment of cremated remains or special gravesites for the burial of cremated remains. Headstones and markers and their placement are provided at the government's expense.
Veterans and armed forces members who die on active duty are eligible for burial in one of VA's 114 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under honorable or general conditions and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible.
Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a non-veteran, and whose remarriage was terminated by death or divorce, is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved. Funeral directors or others making burial arrangements must apply at the time of death. Reservations made under previous programs are honored. The National Cemetery System normally does not conduct burials on weekends. A weekend caller, however, will be directed to on of three strategically located VA cemetery offices that remain open during weekends to schedule burials at the cemetery of the caller's choice during the following week.