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Veterns Funeral Benefits - Everything You Need to Know

If a veteran dies, who pays for the funeral? Who qualifies for free cremation for veterans? The answers are somewhat complex, so let's explore veterans' funeral benefits in greater detail.

Eligibility for benefits

A veteran of the U.S. armed services is eligible for veterans' funeral benefits if he or she has not received a dishonorable discharge and meets at least one of the following circumstances:

  • The veteran died because of a disability related to service in the armed forces.
  • The veteran died at a Veterans Administration facility or at one contracted by the VA.
  • The veteran died while traveling, at the VA's expense, to or from a facility or examination. Proper documentation must be supplied for this condition.
  • The veteran died with an original or reopened claim for VA compensation or pension pending.
  • The veteran died while receiving VA compensation or pension.
  • The veteran died while eligible for VA compensation or pension, but instead received full military retirement or disability pay.

Survivors who can apply for veterans' funeral benefits include:

  • The veteran's surviving spouse or legal partner, as recognized in a formal document from the state recognizing the union.
  • The surviving child of the veteran.
  • The parent of the veteran.
  • The official executor or administrator of the veteran's estate.

VA burial benefits fact sheet

VA burial benefits for eligible persons include:

  • A VA burial and funeral cost allowance (see below). This includes cremation, burial at sea and benefits for donating a veteran's remains to a medical school.
  • An allowance for a VA plot or internment.
  • Reimbursement for the cost of transporting remains to the final resting place.

Reimbursement depends on when the veteran died and the circumstances surrounding death, with greater benefits for veterans who died in the line of service or because of service-related disabilities, or who were under care in a VA facility at the time of death.

Allowances for veterans with service-related deaths:

Status

Maximum burial allowance

Died on or after Sept. 11, 2001

$2,000

Died before Sept. 11, 2001

$1,500

Is buried in a VA cemetery

The VA may pay some or a portion of the costs to move the remains.

Allowances for veterans whose deaths were not service-related:

Status

Maximum burial allowance

Died on or after Jan. 5, 2023

$893 for the burial and $893 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2022 and Jan. 4, 2023

$300 for the burial and $893 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2021 and Sept. 30, 2022

$300 for the burial and $828 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021

$300 for the burial and $807 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020

$300 for the burial and $796 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2018 and Sept. 30, 2019

$300 for the burial and $780 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2017 and Sept. 30, 2018

$300 for the burial and $762 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2016 and Sept. 30, 2017

$300 for the burial and $749 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2016

$300 for the burial and $747 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015

$300 for the burial and $745 for the plot

Died between oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014

$300 for the burial and $734 for the plot

In the case that the veteran's remains aren't claimed, the VA will pay the person or organization responsible for the burial. If the veteran qualifies, the VA may reimburse for moving the remains to a VA cemetery.

Allowances for veterans whose deaths were not service-related, but who were hospitalized by the VA at the time of death:

Status

Maximum burial allowance

Died on or after Oct. 1, 2022

$893 for the burial and $893 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2021 and Sept. 30, 2022

$828 for the burial and $828 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021

$807 for the burial and $807 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2019 and Sept. 30, 2020

$796 for the burial and $796 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2018 and Sept. 30, 2019

$780 for the burial and $780 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2017 and Sept. 30, 2018

$762 for the burial and $762 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2016 and Sept. 30, 2017

$749 for the burial and $749 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2015 and Sept. 30, 2016

$747 for the burial and $747 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015

$745 for the burial and $745 for the plot

Died between Oct. 1, 2013 and Sept. 30, 2014

$734 for the burial and $734 for the plot

The VA may also pay for some or all the costs for moving the remains if the veteran was hospitalized or in a VA-contracted nursing home at the time of death or if the veteran died while traveling to receive VA care.

Reimbursement for headstones or markers ranges from $195 to $290, depending on when the veteran died.

How to apply for burial benefits

If you're the surviving spouse of the veteran, as long as you're listed as such on the veteran's profile, you don't have to apply at all. The VA will automatically send reimbursement. Otherwise, you can apply online or by mailing a printed application to your nearest VA office.

When applying, you'll need to send copies of the following documents:

  • Military discharge papers
  • Death certificate
  • Documentation of costs for moving the veteran's remains
  • A statement of account from the funeral home or funeral director, including the veteran's name, the type of service or item purchased and any credits

Time limit for filing

If the veteran died in a service-related incident or because of a service-related disability, there's no time limit to apply for reimbursement for an eligible veteran's funeral costs.

Otherwise, survivors must file for reimbursement within two years of the burial. If the veteran's discharge status was changed from dishonorable to another status after death, survivors must file for reimbursement within two years the discharge update.

Questions

If you still have questions and want to speak to a VA representative, call 800-827-1000 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. eastern time. You can also contact your local VA office.

Source:

https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/veterans-burial-allowance/