As a veteran do you know what burial benefits that you qualify for through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs?
The V.A. offers several types of burial related assistance to veterans and their families, however there is some confusion as to what is covered and what is not. As a veteran it is imperative that you know and understand what your benefits are so that you not only know how to request them, but so you can plan accordingly in the event that your final expenses are not covered. In truth, reimbursement of funeral or cremation expenses is limited and certain restrictions apply.
Not every veteran’s funeral expense is covered. The type of assistance available to a veteran depends on the veteran’s status at the time of death and whether or not the cause of death was related to the veteran’s military service. The VA pays more for veterans who die because of a service related medical condition or injury than it does for non-service related deaths.
When the cause of death is not service related the reimbursements are generally described as two payments:
- A burial and funeral expense allowance of up to $762 if hospitalized by the VA at time of death. OR $300 toward burial and funeral expenses if not hospitalized by the VA at the time of death.
- A plot or interment allowance of up to $762 if not buried in a national cemetery
If the death is service related, the VA will pay up to $2,000 towards burial expenses. And if the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased may be reimbursed.
Any veteran who has not been dishonorably discharged is eligible for burial at a gravesite at any of the 135 National Cemeteries or in a State Veterans Cemetery in the state in which the veteran resided at the time of his or her death. If the veteran is buried in a state veterans cemetery, burial services are provided by the individual state and not by the VA, and available services can vary widely from one state to another and even from one veterans cemetery to another within the same state!
Now, whether or not a veteran can be buried in a particular cemetery will depend on if there are gravesites available. Plots cannot be reserved prior to a veteran’s death. If a veteran is buried in one of these cemeteries there is no cost to the family for the gravesite or government headstone or marker. Regardless of where a veteran is buried, you must be aware that the burial site assistance does not include cremation, preparation of the deceased (embalming), casket or urn, or transportation to the cemetery. Those must be obtained privately. It is a common misconception that the VA or various branches of the services provide their deceased veterans caskets, but they do not. The only instance that a casket is provided is in the event that a veteran’s death happens while on active duty.
There are certain situations in which the government will cover some of the costs. Here are the exceptions:
- When a military member dies while on active duty, the military service (not the VA) will pick up much of the costs, including cremation, embalming, casket or urn, funeral director services and transportation of remains.
- The military will pay to transfer the remains of military retirees who pass away while admitted to a military hospital provided that the place of burial is no further than the deceased’s last residence.
- If a veteran were to die while admitted to a VA facility, such as a VA medical center or nursing home, the VA will pay for the cost of transporting the remains to a national cemetery provided the cemetery is no further than the deceased’s last residence.
You plan for everything else in your life, so why should planning for your final wishes be any different? While no one enjoys discussing the topic of death, the fact remains that one day your family will need to make dozens of hard decisions regarding your funeral and burial and being caught with unexpected costs could leave unnecessary burdens on your loved ones. Planning ahead for the “What if’s” is an incredible gift of love you can leave your family members. In the instance that you cannot be buried in a National or State cemetery, do you have a backup plan? Purchasing a nice funeral plot can be costly. How about all of the other unexpected expenses that will not be covered by your VA benefits such as purchasing a casket, or urn? Embalming or cremation and the cost of the service?
Let us help ease your burdens. Speak with one of our experts that will help you find the proper and affordable solution to ease your concerns. Give us a call at 1-855-474-6234 and it would be our pleasure to assist you!
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