Monday, November 4, 2013

Veteran's Burial Benefits

The death of a veteran is always a difficult time for the family, but there are some benefits available to the veteran’s family that might make his or her death a little less financially difficult.  Veterans who were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions are eligible for burial in a VA cemetery, a burial flag, and may be eligible for a one-time burial allowance, a funeral expense and a plot interment allowance.

Although the veteran cannot reserve a space, a veteran can be buried in one of the 131 national cemeteries located in 39 of the states the U.S.  and in Puerto Rico if there is space in the cemetery.  Georgia has two national cemeteries, one in Canton and one in Marietta.  However, the cemetery in Marietta is closed for burials, and can only take cremations.

The family of the veteran must arrange with a funeral home for the veteran to be embalmed or cremated, at the family’s expense.  The family can arrange with the VA for the burial by calling the VA to let them know of their desire to bury the veteran at the national cemetery by faxing the appropriate discharge paper to the VA at 1-866-900-6417 the calling the VA at 1-800-535-1117 with information regarding where the veteran is to be buried.

The VA takes care of opening and closing the grave, as well as the perpetual care of the gravesite.  In addition, the VA provides a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Certificate at no cost to the family.

The spouse and/or dependent child of a veteran eligible for burial in a national cemetery is also eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

When is a veteran eligible for burial in a national cemetery?

A service-member who died on active duty is eligible for burial in a national cemetery. 

Since 1980 for enlisted service-members and 1981 for officers, the veteran must have served for 24 months or for the required time of service.

In some circumstances, parents whose biological or adoptive child whose death was the result of a hostile casualty or a training-related injury may be eligible for burial in the national cemetery. Their child must be interred in a national cemetery, in a gravesite that has enough available space for a subsequent interment, and the child must not have any spouse or dependent child who is either buried or may be eligible to be buried in the national cemetery.

In addition to the burial, some veterans’ families are eligible for burial allowances. These payments are classified as a burial and funeral expense allowance and a plot interment allowance.

The family may be eligible if they paid for the veteran’s funeral and they have not been reimbursed by another governmental agency or another source, such as the veteran’s employer.

As always, the veteran must have been discharged under other than dishonorable conditions.

In addition, the veteran must have died because of a service-connected disability, or must have been receiving VA Pension or Compensation, or was eligible to receive Pension or Compensation or died in a VA hospital, a nursing home under VA contract, or while in an approved state nursing home.

If the veteran’s death was service-related, the VA will pay up to $2000 toward burial expenses if the death occurred after Sept. 11, 2001.  If the veteran is buried in a national cemetery, the VA may pay some or all of the cost of transporting the veteran.

If the death was non-service connected, the VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300 plot-interment allowance.

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