During this time of reflection and gratitude for the services of our nation’s veterans, it’s a good time to discuss a matter that often leaves family members unprepared, emotional and confused.
What benefits and services should be expected when a veteran dies?
There are several potential benefits available to the families of deceased veterans. These are benefits that will help lighten both the emotional burden and financial toll of a veteran’s passing.
There are several conditions and eligibility requirements, so I’ll cover the most-used categories for asbestos-affected veterans and their families. These benefits are often complicated, and they have many variations and eligibility requirements outside of the basic criteria listed here.
Burial in a National Cemetery
Available burial benefits for veterans include:
- A gravesite in any of the 131 national cemeteries (if space is available)
- Opening and closing of the grave
- Perpetual care
- A government headstone or marker
- A burial flag
- And a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family.
Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains. Military honors ceremonies are available, and include playing of “Taps” by uniformed personnel, with the folding and presenting of the flag to the next of kin.
Burial benefits available for spouses and dependents buried in a national cemetery include:
- Burial with the veteran
- Perpetual care
- And inscription of the spouse or dependents name, date of birth and date of death on the veteran’s headstone, at no cost to the family.
Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried, even if they predecease the veteran.
Funeral directors can assist with the arrangements, and will need the veteran’s discharge papers (DD-214 form).
Burial in a Private Cemetery
Burial benefits available for veterans buried in a private cemetery include a government headstone or marker, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate. Again, these are at no cost to the family.
There are not any benefits available to spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery.
VA Burial Financial Allowances
VA burial allowances are partial reimbursements of an eligible veteran’s burial and funeral costs. The types and amounts available depend on whether the veteran’s death is service-connected.
The VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after Sept. 11, 2001. VA will pay up to $1,500 for deaths prior to Sept. 10, 2001. If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
For deaths on or after Oct. 1, 2011, the VA will pay up to $700 toward burial and funeral expenses (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 $700 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery).
For deaths on or after Dec. 1, 2001, but before Oct. 1, 2011, the VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300 plot-interment allowance.
The plot interment allowance is $150 for deaths prior to Dec. 1, 2001.
If the veteran’s death happened while the veteran was in a VA hospital or under VA contracted nursing home care, some or all of the costs for transporting the remains may be reimbursed.