By Alison Wood, Contributing Writer
If you are a Veteran of one of the U.S. Armed Forces or if you have a loved one who is, it’s important to be aware that burial and memorial benefits might be available to you from the US Department of Veterans Affairs (more often referred to as the VA). Read on to learn to find out if you are eligible, what the benefits are, and how loved ones can gain support after a Veteran’s death.
Eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery
Burial in a VA national cemetery is available to eligible Veterans, service members, and even some family members.
To be eligible, a person must be:
- A service member who died while on active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty for training.
- A Veteran who didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge.
- The spouse or minor child of a Veteran, even if the Veteran died first.
- In some cases, the unmarried adult dependent child of a Veteran.
There are also further levels of eligibility for specific groups and more information available for those who don’t meet the eligibility requirements listed above. You can find that information by clicking HERE.
To help with the planning of funeral arrangements, it’s possible to find out in advance if the person is eligible to be buried in a VA national cemetery. For full details of the application process, click HERE to head to this page. Such advanced planning can help a Veteran’s family at a difficult time. So if possible, it’s important to make the application in advance. However, if a Veteran has already died, you will instead need to follow the guidelines outlined for scheduling a burial, and you can find those by clicking HERE.
Veterans Burial Allowance
The Veterans Burial Allowance (sometimes called Veterans death benefits) is available to help cover burial, funeral, and transportation costs. The eligibility requirements for this allowance are quite detailed, and you can check whether they apply to you by clicking HERE.
If you are a Veteran’s spouse, there is no need to make an application for this allowance as long as you are listed as the Veteran’s spouse on the Veteran’s profile. When the VA receives notice of the Veteran’s death, they will automatically pay a set amount to those eligible surviving spouses to help pay for the plot, the cost of internment, or transportation of the remains to the cemetery.
Otherwise, you can make a claim for the Veteran’s Burial Allowance within two years after the Veteran’s burial or cremation.
If you are planning a burial for a Veteran or Reservist, it’s also possible to apply for certain memorial items to honor his or her military service. This can include headstones, markers, medallions, burial flags, and Presidential Memorial Certificates.
You can find out more about eligibility and how to apply for these memorial items by clicking HERE
VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
The VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (VA DIC) benefit might be available if you are the surviving spouse, child, or parent of a service member of a Veteran who dies from a service-related injury or illness. This compensation is a tax-free monetary benefit, and you can find out if you are eligible and how to apply by clicking HERE.
There are a number of other benefits which might be available to family members of Veterans, depending on their eligibility.
This includes, but is not limited to, bereavement counseling, VA Survivors Pension, and Beneficiary financial counseling and will preparation. The latter is open to those who are enrolled in VA Life Insurance. You can find out more at each of the links provided.
The VA website is a great resource for a wide range of information relating to Veteran benefits. For initial questions, it’s worth taking a look at the VA’s Veteran Benefit FAQ. They also have resources for helping to locate Veteran graves, for researching military records at the National Archives, and details on how to replace medals and awards. For those planning a burial, it can also be helpful to know what to expect at a military funeral. This VA resource outlines what happens at a committal service in a VA national cemetery.
The loss of a loved one is always a difficult time. Therefore, the more you can prepare by finding out the wishes of your loved one ahead of time, as well as what benefits are available to them, the easier it will be when making funeral arrangements during a time of grief.
This information is courtesy of the U.S Department of Veteran’s Affairs.