Veterans are citizens who have truly given their all for the country risking life itself to defend our ideals and rights. As such, they have earned benefits that will ensure they are honored and remembered as a veteran.
But as with many benefit programs, the details can be confusing. That’s especially true for anyone who just lost a loved one and is trying to manage a lot of things at once.
Unfortunately, veteran benefits will not cover all funeral costs, so this guide will help you understand what is covered and help you plan for the details that are not included.
Who Qualifies for Veterans Burial and Funeral Benefits
Any U.S. military veteran who was honorably discharged qualifies for the general benefits that are extended to everyone. Some benefits are only given if certain requirements are met. You can also be disqualified entirely if you are found guilty of certain crimes.
Others may qualify for some VA burial and funeral benefits, such as National Guard reserves with 20 or more years of service.
Did You Know?
VA burial and funeral benefits aren’t just for the veteran. They are also given to a veteran’s spouse and dependent children. However, divorced spouses, adult children, siblings and parents aren’t extended the VA funeral and burial benefits.
How to Prove Your Loved One Was an Honorably Discharged Veteran
The family will receive benefits after providing their loved one’s DD214. The DD214 is official discharge papers. If your loved one didn’t have a copy in their personal files you’ll need to contact the Veterans’ Administration to gain the necessary documents to receive burial and funeral benefits.
Funeral and Burial Benefits That Are Given to Every Veteran
Some burial and funeral benefits are guaranteed for every veteran who’s eligible for benefits.
- A U.S. flag.
- Government gravestone marker for the burial plot in any cemetery.
- Plot along with burial at a national veterans’ cemetery.
- Vault or outer container at a national veterans’ cemetery.
- A military funeral with honor guard if requested.
Funeral Costs That Aren’t Typically Covered
There are also several things that aren’t included in veteran funeral and burial benefits. These are the things the family will have to pay for out of pocket.
- Casket or urn
- Funeral home expenses
- Crematory expenses
- Memorial expenses
There’s also no lump sum benefit payment for covering the expenses. The one exception is when a servicemember dies during active duty. In those cases, all burial and cremation expenses are covered, and the family will receive a $100,000 benefit payment.
Additional VA Funeral and Burial Benefits
Some veterans are eligible for additional benefits under special circumstances.
The families of veterans that die due to a service-related injury will receive:
- $2,000 for funeral home and cremation expenses.
- Some or all of the transport fees if the veteran is being buried in a national veterans’ cemetery.
- $300 for transport fees if the veteran is buried in a private cemetery.
The families of veterans that pass away at a VA facility from non-service related injuries will receive $722 for funeral home and cremation expenses. If the veteran is buried in a private cemetery the family will receive an additional $722.
The families of veterans that pass away outside of a VA facility and were receiving VA disability or pension benefits will receive $300 for funeral home and cremation expenses.
Markers and Headstones for Veterans
All eligible beneficiaries will receive a free government maker for the burial site. It will take up to 90 days to receive the marker so families are encouraged to request a marker as soon as possible. If the burial takes place at a national cemetery then the installation of the marker will be free. However, if the burial is at a private cemetery installation is not provided by the VA.
VA Benefits for Burial at Sea
If a veteran wishes to be buried at sea or have their ashes scattered at sea there are VA benefits that can help. Unlike burials on land, burials at sea come with special stipulations.
- Scattering of cremated remains will be performed by the U.S. Navy or Coast Guard.
- Burial of the whole body with a casket isn’t always possible.
- The burial or scattering will be scheduled at the convenience of the Navy or Coast Guard.
Information About National Cemeteries
Before you decide whether the burial should take place at a national cemetery or private cemetery, take these things into consideration:
- You cannot select a plot at a national cemetery in advance.
- Burials at national cemeteries generally don’t take place on the weekend.
- Only a select group of veterans are eligible to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Watch Out for VA Burial Benefit Scams
Unfortunately, there are people out there who plague on the grieving. Scammers have been known to target veterans and their families. The tips below can help you avoid falling victim to a VA benefits scam.
- Only trust information that comes directly from the VA.
- Never pay for a product from the “VA” – the VA and government-run veteran cemeteries do not sell products or services.
- Some privately run cemeteries call themselves veterans’ cemeteries. Always check the official status to make sure.
Whether arranging a burial at a national cemetery, private cemetery or planning a direct cremation service, our experienced funeral directors understand veterans’ benefits and will plan accordingly for you to make sure your family receives all the benefits earned by your loved one.
For more information or to get in touch with one of our funeral directors, call or text us at (512) 607-4075.