Death and Burial
The VA administers a burial benefits program designed to assist eligible claimants in helping with funeral and burial costs of a deceased veteran. The following benefits may be available:
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)
Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is a monthly benefit paid to eligible survivors of deceased veterans.
**Under no circumstance does the widow(er) receive the veteran’s benefits after the veteran passes away.**
If a veteran’s death is service connected, the VA will pay a burial allowance of $2,000 for deaths on or after September 11, 2001. For deaths prior to that date, the allowance was $1,500.
If a veteran’s death is not service connected and he/she was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, the VA may pay funeral and burial expense payments. This payment is $300-$700 for funeral expenses and $300-700 for burial expenses. Effective October 1, 2011, the VA will pay $700 for funeral expenses if a veteran was properly hospitalized at a VA facility or in a VA-authorized facility. If not, the benefit pays $300. Effective October 1, 2011, the VA will pay $700 for burial expenses. Prior to that date, the allowance was $300. An annual increase in burial expenses for deaths occurring after October 1, 2011, began in fiscal year 2013 based on the Consumer Price Index for the preceding 12-month period. Effective October 1, 2019, that amount is $796 (vice $700). This benefit is paid if:
- The veteran was in receipt of VA pension or compensation at the time of death, or
- The veteran was, at the time of death, receiving military retired pay in lieu of compensation, or
- The veteran had, at the time of death, an original or reopened VA claim pending and had been found entitled to compensation or pension from a date prior to the date of death, or
- The veteran’s death occurred in a VA facility, or
- The veteran died while traveling under proper authorization and at VA expense to or from a specified place for the purpose of examination, treatment or care, or
- The veteran died on or after October 9, 1996, while a patient at an approved state nursing home or while residing in an approved state nursing home, is transferred to a non-VA facility for acute medical care, and then dies at that location, or
- The veteran’s remains are being held by a state or political subdivision of a state, there is no next of kin or other person claiming the body, and the veteran’s estate does not have enough resources to cover the cost of the funeral and burial. The veteran must have served during wartime or was released from active service for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
Payment may be made to the creditor who provided services or furnished merchandise in connection with burial, funeral, transportation, plot or interment; or the person or persons whose personal funds were used to pay such expenses; or the representative of the estate of the deceased veteran when estate funds were used to pay the expenses.
The VA shall furnish one United States flag at no cost to the family of a veteran who served honorably in the U.S. armed forces or for reservists or National Guard members who:
- Completed at least one enlistment or, in the case of an officer, completed the period of initial obligated service, or
- Was discharged before completion of the initial enlistment for a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty, or
- Who died while an active member.
Prior to November 1, 1990, the VA will furnish a grave marker for eligible veterans’ graves if they are not marked with a private marker. For deaths occurring on or after that date, the VA will furnish a grave marker for eligible veterans’ graves even if they are marked with a private marker. Eligible veterans are veterans who:
- Served honorably in the U.S. armed forces. After September 7, 1980, the veteran must have served for a minimum of 24 months or the full period for which the veteran was called to active duty unless special circumstances make them otherwise eligible such as the veteran died on active duty, or
- Reservists or National Guard members who, at the time of death, were entitled to retired pay or would have been entitled but for being under the age of 60, or
- Reservists or National Guard members who died while on active duty or as a result of training. Members who only have active duty service for training are not eligible.
Veterans must be buried in cemeteries. Burial on private land renders a veteran’s grave ineligible for a VA grave marker. Spouses and dependents are only eligible for VA grave markers if buried in a national or state veterans cemetery.
There are six options of markers available:
There is an option of religious symbols to be placed on the marker. To view them all click HERE.
The VA also offers a medallion that can be placed on a private marker in lieu of a VA grave marker. The medallion comes in 1 1/2″, 3″, and 5″, and they are not personalized like the grave marker.
Presidential Memorial Certificate
The VA will provide, at no expense, certificates which honor the veteran’s memory. These certificates are stamped with the current president’s signature and can be requested for as many family members as desired.