Veteran's Benefits

By: Brian K. Daly
Wednesday, March 30, 2016

If you’re a veteran, or one of your loved ones serves in the United States military, it’s natural to have some questions about the kinds of services, expenses, and other items which may be covered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

It’s important to note that not every veteran’s funeral expenses will be covered, though in many cases a lot of the costs which are usually covered by the surviving family and relatives are covered by the VA, or are reimbursed. For example, when a veteran or qualifying family member are buried or inurned in a national cemetery, Arlington or National Park cemetery, the United States Government will pay for the opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a headstone or grave marker, and a burial flag.

However, if a veteran is buried in a state veterans cemetery, the state, not the VA, is responsible for burial services. Additionally, services available may vary from state to state, and can vary even from one state veterans cemetery to another within the same state.

Which funeral expenses are covered by the VA?

The costs that the VA will cover depend largely on whether or not the death was related to the veteran’s military service. For example, if a veteran dies as a result of service-related medical conditions or injuries, the VA will cover and reimburse more than for non-service related deaths.

When the cause of death is not service-related, the reimbursements from the VA are generally broken down into two payments:

  • A plot or interment allowance
  • A burial and funeral expense allowance

It’s important to remember that the VA doesn’t pay these benefits in advance, which means that the surviving family must supply copies of the funeral bills, which must be paid in full in order to qualify for reimbursement.

Are there veterans funeral expenses the VA does not cover?

It’s safe to assume that the VA does not pay for the following:

  • Cremation
  • Preparation of the deceased (embalming)
  • The casket or urn
  • Transportation to the cemetery

However, there are a few situations in which the VA will cover or reimburse some of these costs, so it’s important to be aware of these exceptions:

  • When a member of the military dies in active service, the Unites States Military, not the VA, will cover most of the costs associated with end-of-life, including burial or cremation, a casket or urn, embalming, funeral director services, and the transportation of the remains to the cemetery. In this case the military will also pay for a family member to accompany the remains from the place of death to the funeral home.
     
  • If a member of the military or a military retiree dies in a military hospital, the military will pay to transfer the remains from the hospital to the last known residence of the deceased.
     
  • If a veteran dies while admitted to a VA facility such as a medical center of nursing home, the VA will pay for the cost of transporting the remains to a national cemetery, provided that the cemetery is no farther than the last known residence of the deceased.

For more information about veterans benefits and reimbursement options available to you or your loved ones, contact our state Veterans Affairs office.

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