What Burial Benefits Are Available for Veterans?
Burial benefits for veterans include allowances for burial and funeral for certain deceased veterans as well as free burial for all veterans and perhaps family members in a state veterans cemetery or national veterans cemetery. Additional benefits for all deceased veterans include a grave marker, a burial flag, an honor ceremony and a letter from the President of the United States.
Information from the VA 2020 Budget Request
In 2018, NCA (National Cemetery Administration) interred 135,306 veterans and eligible family members. Annual veteran deaths are projected to be over 584,000 in 2019, and are projected to slowly decline. The number of interments is expected to peak at about 137,140 in 2021, after which interments will decline gradually. The total number of gravesites is expected to increase from nearly 3.75 million in 2018 to more than 3.92 million in 2020. The number of gravesites maintained is expected to reach over 4 million in 2021. In addition, the number of developed acres to maintain is expected to increase to over 9,500 acres system-wide with the opening of new cemeteries and gravesite expansion projects underway.
NCA's Memorial Programs Service (MPS) is responsible for administering the Headstone and Marker and the Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) programs. MPS provides the following
- receives and processes applications for headstones and markers;
- determines eligibility of the decedent;
- assists Veterans, next-of-kin, Veterans Service Organizations, funeral homes, and other customers with status, replacements, and general information concerning government headstones and markers to be installed on graves in private cemeteries; and
- administers the PMC program by providing certificates to families of deceased Veterans.
In 2020, NCA expects to process 383,570 headstones and marker applications, an increase of 9.1 percent over the 351,556 headstone and marker applications processed in 2018. In addition, NCA will expand its initiative to provide same-day (i.e. on the day of interment) Presidential Memorial Certificates (PMC) at National Cemeteries. NCA issued nearly 518,000 PMCs in 2018; and in the period 2018 to 2022, NCA will deliver nearly 3.5 million PMCs.
Applying for Burial Benefits
Claimants should send all burial and survivor benefit application directly to VA's Intake Center in Jainesville, Wisconsin. The intake center will scan and upload the digital images of the burial or survivor benefit application for processing. Please refer to the Claim Support Disc for the appropriate PO Box in Jainesville, WI.
Application for Burial Benefits, found in the VA forms page on this website, contains the following forms to help you apply:
VA Form 21p-530 - APPLICATION FOR BURIAL BENEFITS
SF 180 – Request Pertaining to Military Records
VA40-4970 – Request for Disinterment
VBA-21-8834-ARE – Application for Reimbursement of Headstone or Marker Expense
VBA-27-2008-ARE – Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes
Effective July 7, 2014: VA changed its monetary burial benefits regulations to simplify the program and pay eligible survivors more quickly and efficiently. These regulations authorized 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 previous regulations, VA paid for burial and funeral expenses on a reimbursement basis, which required 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 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.
The information below was taken from the US department of Veterans Affairs web site
Burial and Plot Rate Table 2019 (Effective October 1, 2018)
SERVICE CONNECTED DEATH *$2,000
NON-SERVICE CONNECTED DEATH (Veteran dies while hospitalized by VA) *$796
NON-SERVICE CONNECTED DEATH (Indigent or Veterans not hospitalized by VA) *$300
NSC DEATH STATE CEMETERY (Paid to a state veterans cemetery for the plot/burial) $796
NSC DEATH PLOT ALLOWANCE (This amount will be paid to reimburse for a private-paid plot) $796
NSC HEADSTONE OR MARKER ALLOWANCE (If not provided by the Department) $195
A service-connected death is one where the veteran was receiving monthly payments for Disability Compensation and the death was due to the disability or condition for which the veteran was receiving pay. It is also possible to receive a service-connected death if the disability or condition was not the direct cause but the disability or condition contributed substantially to the death.
A non-service-connected death is one where the veteran was receiving monthly payments for Disability Compensation or Veterans Pension but the death was due to some other cause not related to the disabilities or conditions for which the veteran was receiving pay.
It should be noted that generally a non-service-connected death can produce $1,096 a month if the survivors have to pay for a funeral plot. Note that if the veteran died while hospitalized by VA and the survivor has to pay for a funeral plot the total amount available is $1,872.
Burial Benefits for Service-Related Death
An annual increase in burial and plot allowances for deaths occurring after October 1, 2011 began in 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
- 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
- Complete and submit a VA Form 21-530, Application for Burial Allowance. You can find an office on VA's Facility Locator page, OR
- Apply online using eBenefits, OR
- Work with an accredited representative or agent, OR
- Go to a VA Regional Office and have a VA employee assist you. You can find your Regional Office on VA's Facility Locator page.
For more information on how to apply and for tips on making sure your claim is ready to be processed by VA, visit our How to Apply page.
Burial and Memorial benefits
- Veterans discharged from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and
- service members who die while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, as well as
- spouses and dependent children of Veterans and active duty service-members, may be eligible for VA burial and memorial benefits. The Veteran does not have to die before a spouse or dependent child for them to be eligible.
With certain exceptions, active duty service beginning after Sept. 7, 1980, as an enlisted person, and after Oct. 16, 1981, as an officer, must be for a minimum of 24 consecutive months or the full period of active duty (as in the case of reservists or National Guard members called to active duty for a limited duration). Active duty for training, by itself, while serving in the reserves or National Guard, is not sufficient to confer eligibility. Reservists and National Guard members, as well as their spouses and dependent children, are eligible if they were entitled to retired pay at the time of death, or would have been upon reaching requisite age. See Chapter 8 for more information.
VA's National Cemetery Scheduling Office or local national cemetery directors verify eligibility for burial. A copy of the Veteran's discharge document that specifies the period(s) of active duty and character of discharge is usually sufficient to determine eligibility. In some instances, a copy of the deceased's death certificate and proof of relationship to the Veteran (for eligible family members) may be required.
Burial in VA National Cemeteries
Burial in a VA national cemetery is available for eligible Veterans, their spouses and dependents at no cost to the family and includes the gravesite, grave-liner, opening and closing of the grave, a headstone or marker, and perpetual care as part of a national shrine. For Veterans, benefits also include a burial flag (with case for active duty) and military funeral honors. Family members and other loved ones of deceased Veterans may request Presidential Memorial Certificates.
VA operates 131 national cemeteries, of which 72 are open for new casketed interments and 18 are open to accept only cremated remains. Burial options are limited to those available at a specific cemetery but may include in-ground casket, or interment of cremated remains in a columbarium, in ground or in a scatter garden. Contact the national cemetery directly, or visit our Web site at: cem.va.gov to determine if a particular cemetery is open for new burials, and which other options are available.
The funeral director or the next of kin makes interment arrangements by contacting the National Cemetery Scheduling Office or, in some cases, the national cemetery in which burial is desired. VA normally does not conduct burials on weekends. Gravesites cannot be reserved; however, VA will honor reservations made under previous programs.
Surviving spouses of Veterans who died on or after Jan. 1, 2000, do not lose eligibility for burial in a national cemetery if they remarry. Burial of dependent children is limited to unmarried children under 21 years of age, or under 23 years of age if a full-time student at an approved educational institution. Unmarried adult children who become physically or mentally disabled and incapable of self-support before age 21, or age 23 if a full-time student, also are eligible for burial.
Burial in Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is a national cemetery administered by the Department of the Army. The primary mission of Arlington National Cemetery is to serve as the final resting place for the men and women who honorably served in the Armed Forces and their immediate family members. The cemetery routinely performs 20 to 30 funeral services each day.
Burial in State Veterans Cemeteries
You should contact your State veterans department for more information on state veterans cemeteries which are maintained by each state.
Certain Eligible Parents for VA Burial
A new federal law passed in 2010 (Public Law 111-275) extends burial benefits to certain parents of service-members who die as a result of hostile activity or from training-related injuries who are buried in a national cemetery in a gravesite with available space. The biological or adopted parents of a service-member who died in combat or while performing training in preparation for a combat mission, who leaves no surviving spouse or dependent child, may be buried with the deceased service-member if the Secretary of Veterans Affairs determines that there is available space. The law applies to service-members who died on or after Oct. 7, 2001 and to parents who died on or after Oct. 13, 2010.
Headstones, Markers and Medallions
Veterans, active duty service members, and retired Reservists and National Guard service members, are eligible for an inscribed headstone or marker for their grave at any cemetery – national, State Veterans, or private. VA will deliver a headstone or marker at no cost, anywhere in the world. For eligible Veterans whose deaths occurred on or after Nov. 1, 1990, VA may provide a government headstone or marker even if the grave is already marked with a private one, or VA may provide a medallion instead of a headstone or marker for Veterans' graves in private cemeteries when the grave is already marked with a privately-purchased headstone or marker. Spouses and dependent children are eligible for a government headstone or marker only if they are buried in a national or State Veterans cemetery.
Flat markers are available in bronze, granite or marble. Upright headstones come in granite or marble. In national cemeteries, the style provided will be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Niche markers are available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains. Medallions are made of bronze and are available in three sizes: 5-inch, 3-inch, and 1 ½-inches.
Headstones, markers and medallions previously provided by the government may be replaced at the government's expense if badly deteriorated, illegible, vandalized or stolen. To check the status of a claim for a headstone or marker for placement in a national or State Veterans cemetery, call the cemetery. To check the status of one being placed in a private cemetery, call 1-800-697-6947.
Headstones and markers must be inscribed with the name of the deceased, branch of service, and year of birth and death. They also may be inscribed with other optional information, including an authorized emblem of belief and, space permitting, additional text including military rank; war service such as "World War 2;" complete dates of birth and death; military awards; military organizations; civilian or Veteran affiliations; and personalized words of endearment.
To submit a claim for a headstone, marker or medallion for a private cemetery, mail a completed VA Form 40-1330 (available at www4.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA40-1330.pdf), Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker, and a copy of the Veteran's military discharge document to Memorial Programs Service (41A1), Department of Veterans Affairs, 5109 Russell Rd., Quantico, VA 22134-3903. The form and supporting documents may also be faxed toll free to 1-800-455-7143. Before ordering, check with the cemetery to ensure that the Government-furnished headstone or marker will be accepted. All installation fees are the responsibility of the applicant.
"In Memory Of" Markers
VA provides memorial headstones and markers with "In Memory Of" as the first line of inscription, to memorialize those whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science or cremated and scattered. Eligibility is the same as for regular headstones and markers. There is no fee when the "In Memory Of" marker is placed in a national cemetery. All installation fees at private cemeteries are the responsibility of the applicant.
Medallions in Lieu of Government Headstone/Marker
Public Law 110-157 enacted December 26, 2007, expanded VA authority to provide a medallion instead of a headstone or marker for Veterans' graves in private cemeteries when the grave is already marked with a privately-purchased headstone or marker. Claimants will have the option to apply for either a traditional headstone or marker to place on the grave, or a medallion to affix to a privately-purchased headstone or marker. VA anticipates the medallion will be available during 2010. Current information regarding medallion availability is located at cem.va.gov.
Presidential Memorial Certificates
These are issued upon request to recognize the United States military service of honorably discharged deceased Veterans. Next of kin, relatives and other loved ones may apply for a certificate by mailing, e-mailing, or faxing a completed and signed VA Form 40-0247 along with a copy of the Veteran's military discharge documents or proof of honorable military service. The form and eligibility requirements can be found at cem.va.gov. All requests must be sent with supporting military documents or proof of honorable military service.
A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the U. S. Armed Forces. It is furnished to honor the memory of a veteran's military service to his or her country. VA will furnish a burial flag for memorialization for each other than dishonorable discharged
- veteran who served during wartime
- veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941
- veteran who served after January 31, 1955
- peacetime veteran who was discharged or released before June 27, 1950
- certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the U.S Armed forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951
- certain former members of the Selected Reserves
Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA furnishes the flag to a friend making request for it. For VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of veterans buried in national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.
You may apply for the flag by completing VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. You may get a flag at any VA Regional Office or U.S. Post Office. Generally, the funeral director will help you obtain the flag.
The law allows us to issue one flag for a veteran's funeral. We cannot replace it if it is lost, destroyed, or stolen. However, some veterans' organizations or other community groups may be able to help you get another flag.
The proper way to display the flag depends upon whether the casket is open or closed. VA Form 21-2008 does provide the correct method for displaying and folding the flag. The burial flag is not suitable for outside display because of its size and fabric. It is made of cotton and can easily be damaged by weather.
Military Funeral Honors
Upon request, DoD will provide military funeral honors consisting of folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of "Taps." A funeral honors detail consists of 2 or more uniformed members of the armed forces, with at least one from the deceased's branch of service.
Family members should inform their funeral director if they want military funeral honors. DoD maintains a toll-free number (1-877-MIL-HONR) for use by funeral directors only to request honors. VA can help arrange honors for burials at VA national cemeteries. Veterans service organizations or volunteer groups may help provide honors. For more information, visit www.militaryfuneralhonors.osd.mil.
Veterans Cemeteries Administered by Other Agencies
Arlington National Cemetery
Administered by the Department of the Army. Eligibility is more restrictive than at VA national cemeteries. For information, call (703) 607-8000, write Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA 22211, or visit arlingtoncemetery.mil.
Department of the Interior
Administers two active national cemeteries – Andersonville National Cemetery in Georgia and Andrew Johnson National Cemetery in Tennessee. Eligibility is similar to VA national cemeteries.
State Veterans Cemeteries
Seventy-nine State veterans cemeteries offer burial options for veterans and their families. These cemeteries have similar eligibility requirements but many require state residency. Some services, particularly for family members, may require a fee. Contact the State cemetery or State Veterans affairs office for information.
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How to Apply for VA Benefits for Veterans and Their Survivors
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- About Accreditation & Fees
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