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Veterans Benefits: What is Provided When a Veteran Passes

As a veteran myself, I specialize in helping other veterans understand the benefits they have as well as the best protection plans for them depending on their situation, or as the Army calls this METT-TC dependent. Over the last few years, I have come to realize that most veterans do not fully know what benefits are available to them, or they have a misunderstanding of what they believe they do have. In this article, I will fully detail everything that a veteran is eligible for from the Veterans Administration, VA, as well as the eligibility requirements, evidence requirements and how to apply for the benefits. 

How Burial Benefits Work

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.

Benefit Amounts

Service-related deaths: VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on or after 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 deaths: VA will pay up to $796 toward burial and funeral expenses for deaths on or after October 1, 2019 (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 $796 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).

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 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

For more details you can go to https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-burial.asp in order to get the full write up directly from the VA website. Now that you know what will actually be covered its clear to see that the VA does not cover entire funerals, and therefore it’s a best practice to speak with an advisor that is focused on serving you with the best possible plan that fits your situation and do some research. Click here if you want to get some term quotes and here if you want to get some whole life final expense quotes. You can arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make the appropriate decision for your family!