If you’re making plans for a veteran funeral, you might be entitled to a number of VA death benefits for cremation.
So how much are you entitled to?
This article will go through all the veteran death benefits available.
You’ll find out about how much can be claimed and what criteria you need to meet.
We’ll also answer some very common questions death benefits.
VA Cremation Benefits
For the most part, veterans receive the same benefits for cremation as they do for a typical burial.
Surprisingly, the actual cremation process is not free.
Nevertheless, the surviving beneficiary does receive monetary benefits that can be applied towards the cremation.
Apart from Government assistance, did you know that people are using crowdfunding to cover the cost of funerals?
Crowdfunding allows you to set up a campaign for your loved one’s funeral expenses. Once published and shared via social media, family, friends, and even strangers can make small donations towards your funeral budget goal.
It’s an amazing tool which really helps vulnerable people in need. More importantly it works incredibly well- showing that people are incredibly generous and kind hearted.
A change of VA procedures in 2014 made the process of applying for benefits much easier.
The eligible spouse no longer has to endure the hassle of filing for the monetary benefits during their time of grief.
It is now automatically paid once the VA has been notified of the veteran’s death.
However if for some reason it is not paid automatically, the next eligible person in line should file a claim to receive the allowance.
The following is the order of survivorship:
- Current spouse
- Surviving children
- Executor of the estate
Types of allowances
They are broken down into two categories, which are service related and non-service related.
Service-related death definition
- Death occurs while on active duty.
- An honorably discharged veteran dies of a service related injury.
Benefits for a service-related death
$2,000 if the death of the vet is on or after 9/11/2001
$1,500 if the death is before 9/11/2001
Non-service related death definition
- Death occurs while in a VA hospital, nursing home, or healthcare facility.
- The veteran was drawing a military pension or disability at the time of death.
Benefits for a non-service related death:
$300 burial allowance paid to all plus
$749 plot allowance if the death is on or before 10/1/2016
$747 plot allowance if the death is on or after October 1, 2015, but before October 1, 2016
$745 plot allowance if the death was on or after October 1, 2014, but before October 1, 2015
Free burial benefits
The expenses are paid for transportation from the place of death, to the location where the cremation will be performed.
- Transportation from the crematory to a VA cemetery
- A plot at one of the VA cemeteries
- Interment into a grave plot, a cremains garden, or a columbarium
- Grave opening and closing
- Perpetual care
- Headstone, grave marker, or a front plate for the columbarium
- A burial flag
- An engraved Presidential Memorial Certificate signed by the existing president.
- A military honor guard.
Military Funeral Honors
Funeral honors are free to a qualified veteran. This will consist of at least two representatives of the armed forces. In most cases, there are four to six.
While taps are being played, the honor guard will perform the folding of the flag and present it to the next of kin.
Another honor sometimes given to a fallen veteran is a rifle volley. It depends on the wishes of the family and if the resources are available.
It’s sometimes referred to as a 21-gun salute, however they are not the same.
Interesting fact: The rifle volley tradition comes from an old custom. During a battle, one side would call a cease fire in order to clear the battle field of their dead.
After the dead were removed, they would fire a volley of three shots to let the other side know they had cleared the field and were ready to resume fighting.
In order for the veteran to be eligible for the Military Funeral Honors, he or she must be:
- On active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
- Honorably discharged after completing a minimum of one enlistment term or a period of obligation in the Selected Reserve.
- Honorably discharged and served on active duty.
- Discharged due to injury or disability while in the line of duty.
Cremation societies (Special benefit)
There are special societies that can aid in arranging the funeral for a veteran, such as the Neptune Society.
They will help you to navigate through the benefits, determine which ones you are eligible for, and show you how to receive them.
Many of these societies offer their services at a special discounted price for veterans.
At the Internet Cremation Society, you can search for a cremation provider by state. This enables you to find a specific facility to walk you through the whole process.
They will explain everything you need in your specific state, in order to lay your loved one to rest.
VA Burial Benefits
Although there is not a VA cemetery in every state, there are 135 located in 40 of the states. In addition, 21 of those accept only cremated remains.
Furthermore, there are many state VA cemeteries. The requirements are usually the same as for national cemeteries, except some may have residency conditions.
The US Department of Veteran Affairs has a map on which you can check the details of eligibility and other information in your state.
Three methods for marking the grave are provided free of charge by the government .
Types of headstones
Headstones are available in marble or granite. Markers can be requested in marble, granite, or bronze.
Columbarium markers are in bronze. The style will be in accordance with the regulations of that particular cemetery.
Even though there is no charge for the markers, if the headstone is erected in a private cemetery, this will be the responsibility of the family.
However if the headstone is set in a national or state cemetery, the plot will be free and all arrangements will be taken care of.
Common questions about VA death benefits
Below are the answers to the most frequently asked questions concerning VA death benefits.
If you have other in depth questions, the US Department of Veteran Affairs should be able to provide answers them for you.
What does it cost to be buried in a veteran’s cemetery?
There is no cost to a qualified veteran, their spouse, or dependents.
Can a spouse be buried in a military cemetery?
Yes, the spouse and dependents of an eligible veteran can receive a free burial in a VA cemetery, even if they die before the veteran.
It will include perpetual care, their names, and birth dates are inscribed on the veteran’s headstone.
Are military funerals free?
A military funeral in the form of an honor guard is provided to an eligible veteran at no cost. The specifics of this honor are provided above under Military Funeral Honors.
A military funeral honor may be requested through the funeral director who is coordinating the services.
A side note: although the tradition is that Taps should be played by a bugle during these proceedings, buglers are rare and hard to locate these days. Therefore, it’s frequently necessary to play a recording of Taps.
What is VA file number for burial benefits?
The VA file number or claim number, is used to identify you and other veterans who receive VA benefits. You will need to have this number in order to file for benefits.
It is typically the same as your social security number, however it can be different occasionally. It is normally six or nine numerals long.
If you are already claiming some sort of government compensation such as disability or a pension, you can normally find it at the upper right hand corner of any correspondence you receive.
Who is eligible to be buried in a national cemetery?
Below are the eligibility requirements for a burial in a national cemetery:
- On active duty or in the Selected Reserve
- Honorably discharged after completing a minimum of one enlistment term or a period of obligation in the Selected Reserve
- Honorably discharged and served on active duty
- Discharged due to injury or disability while in the line of duty
- The surviving spouse, even if remarried to a non-military person and death occurred on or after 1/1/2000
- A dependent child who is under 21 years-old
- A dependent child under 23 years-old and in school
- A dependent child of any age who is disabled
VA death benefits is a complex topic. If you’re organising cremation for a loved one and are wondering about what they’re entitled to, it is our hope to free you from hours of research for the needed details.
If you are making arrangements for a fallen veteran, it is a great pleasure to aid you in any way we can. Our deepest condolences go out to you and your family.
Thank you so much for letting me know that the current spouse of a veteran should receive at least $2000 to help cover the funeral package if the death occurred after 9/11. My sister’s husband recently passed away in battle and I am helping her figure out what kind of financial benefits she should be entitled to since she is in the middle of her grieving process. Knowing that as a spouse, she should get at least $2000 to help cover the cost of the veterans funeral package will surely help take one of the loads off her back.
what did you learn?
lm trying to pre plan cremation and burial in a military Cemetery.
Transport body cost ?
What forms do I have to fill out do you know?
My Dad was a WW2 Veteran .Is his wife entitled to a Veterans help with cremation services .I am his daughter I am asking because she is living in a nursing home .
My husband (common law) just passed February 5, 2020, all money is frozen and i cannot afford cremation. He’s a Vietnam Veteran who’s been through the ringer since November 2019, i kept telling them he is a veteran, send him to VA, well no one would listen they sent him where they wanted to. I did some research about these hospitals and they have been involved in a lawsuit for kickbacks, they obviously haven’t learned because they are still doing it. I need assistance, he’s just laying at Neptune society because i cannot pay and they will not cremate him until i do, this is just wrong. Can someone please assist me or advise me on who to call?? I’m just sick over all this!!
I hope you have gotten this taken care of by now. God Bless. I am a Vietnam Vet also and I have gotten more done by writing my senator and/or congress person than going through all the red tape BS. No vet should have to go through such a thing. Good luck. Also, there are places that will cremate for less than $1000. Check around.
Bonnie First did you form your “common law marriage” in a legally recognized “common law marriage” state? If so all 50 states recognize this bond if you move into their state. I am in the same situation and having somewhat the same problem.
Look up “common law marriage” laws in your state and insist on your rights. “Common law marriage” is still recognized in a few states. Look them up also. Good luck!
My brother was a Vietnam veteran he recently passed from prostate cancer he was not married or had children his siblings took care of him along with in home hospice do to COVID19 he was take and cremated do we have any entitlement to any veteran death benefits
Hello, I can only add some details here, on what an Honorably Discharged Veteran, at 100% Disabled, drawing only Disability Compensation at time of death, the wife/spouse can get! In my situation, husband was terminal, at home with Hospice, me as a Caregiver of 24/7. Luckily, he saved some money for me, for Cremation. Not cheap here in Oregon, around 1,700. An Advacate at Verteran Affairs, applied for me, like paperwork needed and within close to 2-3 weeks, I got 2,000. Im thinking, Cremation and Death Benefit! What a relief!! Va is in the process, determining If I can get Survivors Benefits, at 100% Disabled, and related to his Compensation, at time fo death. But, Im thinking 100% at time of death, will be enough to get Benifits, for Daughter and I. I could be wrong, but all I read, leeds me to think this!! God Bless all Veterans and Family here!!
I am an “old” retired Army Officer that has recently been diagnosed with cancer so want my spouse to have all the details necessary to be able to take advantage of the VA benefits. This summarizes it but where are the details, forms to complete, etc., etc.??
WW 2 veteran deceased 10/5/20
Surviving wife in nursing home
With C19 virus, can an Honor Guard present a flag to surviving wife at nursing home?
You do not say if he had a will. That plays a role. So were one of your siblings have Administrator rights to close out your brother’s estate? This person can apply for the minimum of $300 to defray your costs. Was he interred in a veterans cemetery? That would be free. If he was in a private cemetery and there was a cost to do this then you should be able to get almost $800 to defray that cost. Contact your members of Congress-two U.S. Senators and one U.S. House Representative and local VFW, DAV, American Legion, etc. and they can all help you. I am tending to this myself as my younger sister was an Army veteran who suddenly died. My brother and I are Air Force veterans. We are placing my sister’s ashes in a veteran cemetery which is totally free. You can also call the VA at 1-800-827-1000 for help too. Have your brother’s social security number ready as that is key. I am sorry to hear your brother died but glad to know you are watching after him.
Go on line to http://www.va.gov. You can call 1-800-827-1000 to get information and they can mail details to you as well. Check with your local service groups like VFW, DAV, American Legion, and others who have people who know the details of any questions or can send you in the right direction. Be sure to have a will and then create a trust to avoid paying any fees or tax to help your beneficiaries. Veterans cemeteries are great as they are free, you can have close loved ones near you later, you will be with other people who served honorably in the armed forces, and they are maintained indefinitely. It is good to plan ahead. I trust you will get control of your illness, have no pain, and recover. I truly wish you the best. I am a fellow warrior and hope I helped in some way.
My son recently received information his father has passed away, they were estranged, but he is listed as next of kin. His father is a Vietnam veteran honorably discharged. He wants to have him cremated and buried in a VA cemetary. My son has no money to do this, will VA pay for cremation and internment at a VA location? The body is in Denver Colorado. Thank you for any advice.
My father just passed. He was an army airborne soldier. He fought in Normandy he is being cremated is their any assistance we can get for funeral cost ? Just curious as we was told he wasnt from the funeral home.
In 2015 a friend’s Honorably Discharged spouse (not disabled, no VA pension) was cremated and burial postponed in U.S. National Cemetery, yet $300 allowance was approved before burial. My Honorably Discharged husband recently passed and was cremated. I submitted his death certificate and received a Burial ID # for inurnment in U.S. National Cemetery. Due to the pandemic, we postponed inurnment. I used the updated VA Burial Benefits Application form and submitted DD-214, Death Certificate, Cremation Service bill and was denied the $300 VA burial allowance. The VA denial letter acknowledges all paperwork I submitted was correct proof and submitted within time frame, but my claim was denied based on, “You did not provide evidence Veteran was eligible to receive disability compensation or VA pension.” ??? disability ??? pension ??? I reviewed the instructions on both the old and revised Burial Benefits Application forms. They both do indeed connect eligibility to disability and pension. I (assumed) Part B, Burial Allowance was a true one time Thank You for Your Service allowance. Obviously, it is not. I think my friend should by a lottery ticket 🙂
Could I please get the map showing death benefits for veterans. Eligeability for requirement on cremation, or do I need to pick it up and where.
My brother just passed away when he was younger he was in the Marine corps my dad does not have the money to pay for cremation nor anything else let alone I’m thinking of starting a GoFundMe page otherwise he’s going to just be let go and in limbo somewhere he did not get along well with my parents but he and I got along well I don’t want him to just be out there somewhere his body or cremated or anything I would like to have him cremated myself but I’m having trouble with the funds also can you tell me please what I should do
I am trying to find out if my husband a army veteran can get some help with his cremation? He was in a VA hospital they discharged him to a nursing home because they could not do anything else for him. He passed away 5 days later. Please e-mail me (I am his wife) if there is any help available. email@example.com hoping to hear from you soon.
My husband’s a disabled veteran he died in Charleston South Carolina I’m inquiring about having him cremated NVA benefits.
My husband passed on 2-26-2022. He was us army reserves veteran. He passed due to covid pneumonia. Am I qualified to get a headstone and be pd back for the expenses of funeral and cremation. 3000 dollars was the cost.
My Fiance was a 100 percent disabled Veteran who died on Jan 13, 2013 from service connected disabilities..at the time, he was 58 years old, and we were living together for 12 years in NJ…he was born and raised in Kansas, and buried there, but died in NJ at the time…. I inquired about Common Law benefits, because, I myself am 100 percent disabled , and living on SSD, when he died and present.. he wanted me to inquire if he died, because he helped support me for all those years.. I was his Executor and POA when he died..I was told because he resided in NJ at the time of his death, and NJ did not recognize common law, I was not entitled to benefits…at the time of his death I paid for his funeral and everything related..from a life insurance policy left to me..I don’t recall ever getting reimbursed for his burial…whatsoever from the VA..or anything related… am I entitled to the $2000 etc that I read about? if so I woujld inquire with the VA…he was a beautiful man, the absolute love of my life…..taken from me way too soon…………..the anniversary of his death is approaching once again………………..:( ty …for reading this…..