Death Benefits and Burial Programs that Veterans Need to Know About

By: Melissa Descant
Thursday, July 18, 2019

If you served in the military, then you are naturally entitled to veteran benefits. There are many out there, especially when it comes to death benefits and burial programs. Understanding what programs are available can help you to better determine what your benefits entail so you can better plan for your future. 

One of the biggest things to note about veteran benefits is that 2014 made a big change to the process. No longer do spouses need to pay out of pocket for the upfront costs and get reimbursed. Rather, you can now enjoy automatic payments from the VA right away. There's no written application process, which means quicker compensation. This means, overall, less hassle for the surviving family members during the funeral process. 

There are two main types of death benefits that veterans can receive. These are service-related death benefits and non-service related death benefits. Let's take a closer look at what each of these is below so that you can better understand how to approach the benefits process and what's going to be covered. 

Service-Related Death Benefits

The surviving spouse or family members of veterans who are killed in the line of duty will receive up to $2,000 to put towards the funeral costs associated with the burial of their loved one. This amount is set for all deaths after the date of September 11, 2001. Any service-related deaths prior to this date will receive reimbursement up to $1,500. If the service member is buried in one of the VA national cemeteries, the cost of transporting the deceased body can be partially or fully reimbursed.

Non-Service Related Death Benefits

If a veteran passes away due to any other cause than active service, the VA will provide non-service related death benefits for the family members. As of October 1, 2018, payouts will be in the amount of $780 to put towards funeral expenses like embalming. This is assuming that the veteran was hospitalized at a VA center. If the veteran was not hospitalized at the VA center, then the surviving family members will receive up to $300 in benefits. On top of this benefit, the family will also receive $780 towards the plot fee for anywhere besides a VA cemetery. 

For deaths dated between December 1, 2001, and September 30, 2018, there are different benefits. These include $300 towards the burial and an additional $300 towards the burial plot. These amounts can vary depending on whether or not the veteran was hospitalized at the VA center or not. It's a great idea to check with your local VA center to see what benefit amounts your family will qualify for. 

Understanding Who Is Eligible For Payout

In order for you to receive benefits from the VA, you'll need to be eligible. There are a few different eligibility requirements that you must meet. These include: 

The veteran was discharged due to any other reason than a dishonorable discharge. 
You paid for the veteran's funeral expenses and didn't get any other reimbursement from any government agency.

Benefits Of Getting Buried In A National Cemetery

When death occurs, there are many expenses, including that of a mortician. As a service member, you can receive some excellent benefits when you choose to get buried in one of the 100 national cemeteries. Those who are eligible are able to receive the following benefits:

Grave Site In Any Open Plot
Opening Of The Grave
Closing Of The Grave
Perpetual Care
Government Headstone / Marker
Burial Flag
Presidential Memorial Certificate

Getting Prepared

It's important to note that planning ahead of time for the burial service can help to reduce the amount of stress going on at the time of death. While it's not actually possible to reserve a grave with the Department Of Veterans Affairs, there are some other things that you can do to prepare. You should stop by your local VA to discuss your burial options. This way, you know what your options are and can select what you would like best. 

It's helpful to collect all of your military information, such as your discharge papers. Having all of this information in one easily accessible place can make life much easier when applying for the burial benefits. While you may not be able to reserve a specific gravesite at a national cemetery, you can contact your desired cemetery ahead of time. They can let you know how many spots are available and expedite the burial process when death occurs.

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