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Veteran's Burial Benefits

Veteran's Benefits

We truly believe that the men and women who answered our nation’s call embody the ideals Americans hold so dear. Because they have proven their devotion to their fellow citizens and to a grateful nation, we all owe them the same respect and devotion in return.

Summary of Veteran's Burial Benefits

  • Burial in a National Cemetery (grave, opening/closing, perpetual care)
  • Government headstone/marker
  • Burial flag
  • Military funeral honors
  • Presidential Memorial Certificate
  • Burial allowances
  • Death and Indemnity Compensation

Burial in a National Cemetery

Burial benefits available include a gravesite in any local National cemetery with available space, 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.  Local National cemeteries include Bourne National Cemetery, Bourne, MA, Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Winchendon, MA and the New Hampshire State National Cemetery, Boscawen, NH.  Some Veterans may be eligible for Burial Allowances. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.

Burial benefits available for spouses and dependents buried in a National cemetery include burial with the Veteran, perpetual care, and the spouse or dependents name and date of birth and death will be inscribed on the Veteran's headstone, at no cost to the family. Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried, even if they predecease the Veteran.

The Veterans family should make funeral or cremation arrangements prior. Any item or service obtained from a funeral home or cremation office will be at the family's expense.


Preparing in Advance

Gravesites in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries cannot be reserved in advance.

You should advise your family of your wishes and where your discharge papers are kept. These papers are very important in establishing your eligibility. Upon request, VA will make eligibility determinations for burial in a VA national cemetery in advance of need.

At the time of need your family would contact the funeral home who will assist them with making burial arrangements at the national cemetery. You may wish to make pre-need arrangements with a funeral home.

A Certificate of Appreciation is presented to the donor for providing their loved ones' burial flag to a national cemetery.


For Burial in a Private Cemetery

Burial benefits available for Veterans buried in a private cemetery may include a Government headstone, marker or medallion, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Some Veterans may also be eligible for Burial Allowances.  There are not any VA benefits available to spouses and dependents buried in a private cemetery.

Veteran Grave Markers and Medallions

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the family, a Government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible Veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death.

A Government-furnished headstone or marker may be provided for eligible Veterans who died on or after Nov. 1, 1990 and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone. A Government-furnished medallion may be provided for eligible Veterans who served on or after Apr. 6, 1917 and whose grave is marked with a privately purchased headstone or marker.

Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. Bronze niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains. The style chosen must be permitted by the officials in charge of the private cemetery where it will be placed.  Your funeral provider will assist you with this.

When burial or memorialization is in a national cemetery, state Veterans' cemetery, or military post/base cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin or authorized representative.

Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a Government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national cemetery, state Veteran's cemetery, or military post/base cemetery.

Note: There is no charge for the headstone or marker itself, however arrangements for placing it in a private cemetery are the applicant's responsibility and all setting fees are at private expense.


Setting Government Headstones and Markers

Cemetery staff in national, military post, and military base cemeteries are responsible for setting the headstone or marker at no cost to the applicant. Some state Veterans' cemeteries may charge the applicant a nominal fee for setting a Government-furnished headstone or marker.

Arrangements for setting a Government-furnished headstone or marker in a private cemetery are the applicant's responsibility and all placement costs are at private expense.


Checking Status of a Headstone, Marker or Medallion Request

To obtain the status of headstones or markers ordered for national or state cemeteries, please contact the cemetery directly.

To obtain the status of headstones or markers ordered for private cemeteries, please use the following instructions: If more than 30 days have passed since your claim was submitted to the VA in Washington, D.C. by you, or someone assisting you, please call our Applicant Assistance Unit to verify we are in receipt of your claim.

If more than 60 days have passed since submitting your claim and the grave is still not marked, you should contact the cemetery, funeral home, or other party responsible for accepting delivery of the headstone, marker or medallion to see if they have received it. If they have not received it, you may call our Applicant Assistance Unit between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday, at 1-800-697-6947.

Please Note: The above telephone number is for questions related to headstones, markers and medallions only ordered for private cemeteries.

For assistance in obtaining Veterans' records or for information on other VA benefits, please call your local Department of Veterans Affairs Regional Office at 1-800-827-1000 or Contact Us.


Memorial Headstones and Markers

Memorial headstones and markers, for individuals or groups, are furnished for eligible deceased active duty service members and Veterans whose remains are not recovered or identified, are buried at sea, donated to science or whose cremated remains have been scattered.

Memorial headstones and markers may also be furnished in national, military post/base or state Veterans cemeteries to eligible spouses whose remains are unavailable for interment, whether or not they predecease the eligible Veteran.

These headstones and markers bear an "IN MEMORY OF" inscription as their first line and must be placed in a recognized cemetery.

Memorial headstones and markers for spouses and other dependents are not available for placement in private cemeteries.

Burial Flags

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. Your funeral home will assist you in obtaining this benefit.  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 an other than dishonorably discharged:

1. Veteran who served during wartime

2. Veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941

3. Veteran who served after January 31, 1955

4. Peacetime Veteran who was discharged or released before June 27, 1950 after serving at least one enlistment, or for a disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty

5. 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

6. Certain former members of the Selected Reserves


Who Is Eligible to Receive the Burial Flag?

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 will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it. For those VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of Veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.


Can a Burial Flag Be Replaced?

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.


Donating Burial Flags in National Cemeteries

Most of the Department of Veterans Affairs national cemeteries display an Avenue of Flags on patriotic holidays and during special events. The Avenues consist of burial flags donated by the families of deceased Veterans and provide a unique visible tribute to all of our Nation's Veterans.

Military Funeral Honors

The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral honors. "Honoring Those Who Served" is the title of the DOD program for providing dignified military funeral honors to Veterans who have defended our nation.

Upon the family's request, Public Law 106-65 requires that every eligible Veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, to include folding and presenting the United States burial flag and the playing of Taps. The law defines a military funeral honors detail as consisting of two or more uniformed military persons, with at least one being a member of the Veteran's parent service of the armed forces. The DOD program calls for funeral home directors to request military funeral honors on behalf of the Veterans' family. However, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration cemetery staff can also assist with arranging military funeral honors at VA national cemeteries. Veterans organizations may assist in providing military funeral honors. When military funeral honors at a national cemetery are desired, they are arranged prior to the committal service by the funeral home.

Questions or comments concerning the DOD military funeral honors program may be sent to the address listed below. The military funeral honors Web site is located at https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/mfh/. [Link will take you off the VA web site.]

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense
(Military Community and Family Policy)
4000 Defense Pentagon, Room 5A726
Washington, DC 20380

Presidential Memorial Certificates

A Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC) is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, to honor the memory of deceased Veterans who are eligible for burial in a national cemetery.  Your funeral provider will assist you in obtaining this benefit.

History
This program was initiated in March 1962 by President John F. Kennedy and has been continued by all subsequent Presidents. Statutory authority for the program is Section 112, Title 38, of the United States Code.

Administration
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) administers the PMC program by preparing the certificates which bear the current President's signature expressing the country's grateful recognition of the Veteran's service in the United States Armed Forces.

Eligibility
A PMC is authorized for Veterans who are eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

Burial Allowances

Effective July 7, 2014: VA is changing its monetary burial benefits regulations to simplify the program and pay eligible survivors more quickly and efficiently. These regulations will authorize 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 current regulations, VA pays for burial and funeral expenses on a reimbursement basis, which requires 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 will 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.


Service-related Death Benefits

VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after September 11, 2001, or up to $1,500 for deaths prior to September 11, 2001. If the Veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.


Non-service-related Death Benefits

VA will pay up to $749 toward burial and funeral expenses for deaths on or after October 1, 2016 (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 $749 plot-interment allowance (if not buried in a national cemetery). For deaths on or after December 1, 2001, but before October 1, 2011, VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300 plot-interment allowance. For deaths on or after April 1, 1988 but before October 1, 2011, VA will pay $300 toward burial and funeral expenses (for Veterans hospitalized by VA at the time of death).

An annual increase in burial and plot allowances for deaths occurring after October 1, 2011 begins in fiscal year 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


Evidence Requirements

  • Acceptable proof of death as 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

Your funeral professional will often assist you with applying for benefits.  However you can also choose to do this on your own by completing and submitting a VA Form 21-530, Application for Burial Allowance.  Detailed information on this process can be found on the VA website.

Information taken from http://www.benefits.va.gov

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a tax free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of military Service members who died in the line of duty or eligible survivors of Veterans whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease.


Eligibility (Surviving Spouse)

To qualify for DIC, a surviving spouse must meet the requirements below.

The surviving spouse was:

  • Married to a Servicemember who died on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, OR
  • Validly married the Veteran before January 1, 1957, OR
  • Married the Veteran within 15 years of discharge from the period of military service in which the disease or injury that caused the Veteran's death began or was aggravated, OR
  • Was married to the Veteran for at least one year, OR
  • Had a child with the Veteran, AND
  • Cohabited with the Veteran continuously until the Veteran's death or, if separated, was not at fault for the separation, AND
  • Is not currently remarried

Note: A surviving spouse who remarries on or after December 16, 2003, and on or after attaining age 57, is entitled to continue to receive DIC.


Eligibility (Surviving Child)

  • Not included on the surviving spouse's DIC, AND
  • Unmarried, AND
  • Under age 18, or between the ages of 18 and 23 and attending school.

Note: A child adopted out of the Veteran’s family may be eligible for DIC if all other eligibility criteria are met.


Evidence Required

  • The Servicemember died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training, OR
  • The Veteran died from an injury or disease deemed to be related to military service, OR
  • The Veteran died from a non service-related injury or disease, but was receiving, OR was entitled to receive, VA Compensation for service-connected disability that was rated as totally disabling
    • For at least 10 years immediately before death, OR
    • Since the Veteran's release from active duty and for at least five years immediately preceding death, OR
    • For at least one year before death if the Veteran was a former prisoner of war who died after September 30, 1999


How to Apply

Your funeral professional will often assist you with applying for benefits.  However you can also choose to do this on your own by completing and submitting a VA Form 21-530, Application for Burial Allowance.  Detailed information on this process can be found on the VA website

Information taken from http://www.benefits.va.gov