VA Funeral & Burial Benefits Eligibility

Funeral Costs

Posted on October 22, 2013 by Rachel Zeldin

Veterans Affairs Benefits (VA Benefits) are benefits given to veterans by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Some of these benefits can help when planning a funeral and a lot of veterans are eligible for burial benefits but don’t even know it.

Veteran Funeral and Cemetery Benefits

Benefits include a grave site at a national cemetery, opening & closing of the grave, perpetual care of the grave, a headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a presidential memorial certificate. For a more details on these veterans' funeral and cemetery benefits, see the article: VA Veterans Burial Benefits. To qualify for these benefits, veterans must meet one of the criteria below.

VA Burial Benefits Eligibility

The following people may be eligible for veterans funeral benefits.  For more information on funeral benefit eligibility, visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Veterans and Members of the Armed Forces 

(Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard)

  • if the veteran died while on active duty.

  • if the veteran was discharged honorably (discharged with conditions besides dishonorable) and they served for 24 months or they served their full-time of active duty. Dishonorable discharges may be eligible for benefits but are reviewed and decided upon by the VA Regional Office.

  • if the veteran was a citizen who helped serve the United States during any war that the United States has been engaged in and was terminated with honorable service.

Members of Reserve Components and Reserve Officers’ Training Corps

  • if the reservist or national guard veteran received retired pay or was entitled to retired pay.

  • if the reservist or national guard veteran died while being treated, or contracted an illness while under the care of the U.S. government.

  • if the veteran died while attending an authorized training camp, attending an authorized cruise, or died while in transit to these places.

  • if the veteran died from getting hurt or disabled while in active duty.

Spouses and Dependents

Eligible veterans spouses and dependents are entitled to be buried in a VA cemetery:

  • even if the eligible veteran is not buried in a VA cemetery.

  • if the veteran’s spouse remarries under certain circumstances. If the marriage was terminate due to divorce or annulment then the spouse is not eligible.

  • if the eligible veteran has minor children. To be considered a child you must be under the age of 21 and not married or under the age of 23 and still schooling.

  • if an unmarried adult child is unable to support themselves due to a debilitating accident before the age of 21 or 23 if the unmarried child was attending school full-time.

Parents

Eligible veterans parents are entitled to be buried in a VA cemetery if:

  • the biological or adoptive parents died after October 13, 2010, and whose biological or adoptive child was a service member:

    • whose death occurred before October 7, 2001 and

    • whose death was caused by a hostile casualty or a training-related injury and

    • who is buried in a Nationanl VA cemetery in a gravesite with available space for subsequent interment

    • at the time of the parent’s death, had no spouse, surviving spouse, or child who is buried, or who, upon death, may be eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

  • The term “hostile casualty” means a person who, as a member of the Armed Forces, dies as the direct result of hostile action with the enemy, while in combat, while going to or returning from a combat mission if the cause of death was directly related to hostile action, or while hospitalized or undergoing treatment at the expense of the United States for injury incurred during combat, and includes a person killed mistakenly or accidentally by friendly fire directed at a hostile force or what is thought to be a hostile force.  The term “hostile casualty” does not include a person who dies due to the elements, a self-inflicted wound, combat fatigue, or a friendly force while the person was absent-without-leave, deserter, or dropped-from-rolls status or was voluntarily absent from a place of duty.A "training-related injury" is an injury incurred while training for real combat.

  • The term “training-related injury” means an injury incurred by a member of the Armed Forces while performing authorized training activities in preparation for a combat mission.  

These are just some of the different people who qualify for veterans funeral benefits and burial benefits with the ability to be buried in VA cemeteries. If you would like to learn more about who is eligible for burial benefits then be sure to look at the VA Eligibility list.