Death Benefits

This page is for benefits for the deceased Veteran. For Survivor benefits click HERE.


Burial Allowance

This benefit helps cover burial, funeral, and transportation costs.

Eligibility

There are three kinds of burial allowances: Non-Service Connected (NSC), Service-Connected (SC) and Death Under Care. Burial benefits are made up of the burial allowance itself, Plot benefits, and Transportation benefits.

Not every Veteran’s survivors are entitled to a Burial allowance. If your Veteran was not in receipt of benefits at death, did not have a pending claim at death, or did not pass away under care, their claim for Burial benefits is very likely to be denied.

  • NSC Death: This is VA’s version of the Social Security $255 Lump Sum Death Benefit. The Veteran had to have been in receipt of benefits at the time of death (Compensation or Pension). The NSC Burial Allowance is $300.

  • SC Death: This is VA’s burial decision indicating that the Veteran’s death was somehow tied to their military service. The biggest driver of this is the combination of issues that the Veteran was rated for during their lifetime and the published cause of death on the death certificate. If you select SC Burial as an option on the application and that link is not obvious, you will get a letter asking you to provide scientific or medical evidence.

  • Death Under Care: Those not in receipt can only be awarded Burial benefits if they died under care. Dying under care is an unofficial catch-all to describe death that happens at or in transit to/from a Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), death at a State Veterans Home, or death at a contract nursing home. The nursing home that a Veteran deceased at would have been arranged by the local VAMC to qualify as death under care.

Applying

(Yes, that is the same address as for Survivor Benefits. The Pension Management Centers (PMC) in Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and St. Paul, also handle Veteran burial claims.)

Additionally, copies of the following documents need to be attached:

  • The Veteran’s military discharge papers (DD214 or other separation documents)
  • The Veteran’s death certificate
  • Any documents or receipts you have for the cost of transporting the Veteran’s remains with itemized costs. Funeral bills with all of the sections marked ‘Included’ are generally not acceptable.
  • A statement of account (preferably with the letterhead of the funeral director or cemetery owner) that has this information:
  • The Veteran’s name, and
  • The type of service or item purchased, and
  • Any credits, and
  • The amount paid

NOTES:

  • The application must be filed within two years after the Veteran’s burial or cremation. If the death was deemed not service-connected.
  • If the death was deemed service-connected there is no time limit to file.

Burial or Inurnment in Arlington National Cemetery

Certain Veterans are eligible to be interned or inurned, in Arlington National Cemetery.

Eligibility

The Veteran can be eligible through their own service, or may be eligible through the service of a close relative who is eligible. No matter what, the Veteran’s last character of discharge from the military MUST have been Honorable!

Primary Burial Eligibility

The Veteran must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Veteran retired from active military service.

  • Veteran retired from a Reserve component who served a period of active duty (other than for training).

  • Veteran was medically separated before 1949 who served a period of active duty (other than for training), and who would have been eligible for retirement under the provisions of 10 U.S.C. 1201 had the statute been in effect on the date of separation.

  • Veteran awarded one of the following decorations:

  • Congressional Medal of Honor;

  • Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross, or Navy Cross;

  • Distinguished Service Medal;

  • Silver Star; or

  • Purple Heart.

  • Veteran was a former prisoner of war (POW).

  • Veteran served on active duty (other than active duty for training) and who held any of the following positions:

  • President or Vice President of the United States;

  • Elected member of the U.S. Congress;

  • Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States or Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States;

  • A position listed, at the time the person held the position, in 5 U.S.C. 5312 or 5313 (Levels I and II of the Executive Schedule); or

  • Chief of Mission of a Category 4, 5, or 5+ post if the Department of State classified that post as a Category 4, 5, or 5+ post during the person’s tenure as Chief of Mission.

Derivatively Burial Eligibility

An honorably discharged veteran who does not qualify as a primarily eligible person. The veteran will be buried in the same gravesite as an already interred primarily eligible person who is a close relative*, where the interment meets all of the following conditions:

  • The Veteran is without minor or unmarried adult dependent children;

  • The Veteran will not occupy space reserved for the spouse, a minor child, or a permanently dependent adult child;

  • All other close relatives of the primarily eligible person concur with the interment of the Veteran with the primarily eligible person by signing a notarized statement;

  • The Veteran’s spouse waives any entitlement to interment in Arlington National Cemetery, where such entitlement might be based on the Veteran’s interment in Arlington National Cemetery. The Executive Director may set aside the spouse’s waiver, provided space is available in the same gravesite, and all close relatives of the primarily eligible person concur; and

  • Any cost of moving, recasketing, or revaulting the remains will be paid from private funds.

  • The spouse, parents, adult brothers and sisters, adult natural children, adult stepchildren, and adult adopted children of a decedent.

Eligibility for Inurnment

Person must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Any of the eligibility requirements listed for burial.

  • Veteran served on active duty (other than active duty for training).

Crimes that revoke eligibility

Veterans who are convicted of certain crimes are made ineligible. This includes those who died before being sentencing or who fled sentencing. However, if the Veteran somehow gets commuted, they will regain their eligibility.

  • Federal or State capital crimes.

  • Crimes that lead to a person becoming a Title III sex offender for purposes of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act and whose crime carried with it a minimum sentence of life imprisonment.

Scheduling a Funeral

For information about scheduling a funeral click HERE.


Burial in National Cemeteries (VA or NCA Run)

Cemeteries run by the VA or the National Cemetery Administration.

Eligibility

  • Veteran’s character of discharge was NOT dishonorable.

Scheduling a Burial

Please click Here.

Crimes that revoke eligibility

Veterans who are convicted of certain crimes are made ineligible. This includes those who died before being sentencing or who fled sentencing. However, if the Veteran somehow gets commuted, they will regain their eligibility.

  • Federal or State capital crimes.

  • Crimes that lead to a person becoming a Title III sex offender for purposes of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act and whose crime carried with it a minimum sentence of life imprisonment.


Burial at Sea

For information, call the U.S. Navy Mortuary Affairs office at 866-787-0081.

Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. EST.


Burial Flag

An American flag can be given to accompany the Veteran’s casket or urn.

Eligibility

  • Veteran’s character of discharge was NOT dishonorable.

Requesting a Burial Flag

Requestor must be next of kin, family member, or close friend of the Veteran.

For methods to request the burial flag click HERE.


Headstones, Markers and Medallions

Available at no cost.

Eligibility

  • Veteran’s character of discharge was NOT dishonorable.

For more information click HERE.


Presidential Memorial Certificates (PMC)

A fancy piece of paper signed by the current president.

Eligibility

  • Veteran’s character of discharge was NOT dishonorable.

Requesting a PMC

Requestor must be next of kin, family member, or close friend of the Veteran.

For methods to request the PMC click HERE.

NOTE:

  • If the Veteran is buried in a National Cemetery. A PMC will automatically be presented to the next of kin at the burial.

References

Return to Knowledge Base Index

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