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Veterans Benefits

What Are VA Burial Allowances?


VA burial allowances are partial reimbursements of an eligible veteran's burial and funeral costs. When the cause of death is not service related, the reimbursements are generally described as two payments: (1) a burial and funeral expense allowance, and (2) a plot or interment allowance.



Who Is Eligible?


You may be eligible for a VA burial allowance if:

  • you paid for a veteran's burial or funeral, AND 
  • you have not been reimbursed by another government agency or some other source, such as the deceased veteran's employer, AND 
  • the veteran was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. 


In addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:

  • the veteran died because of a service-related disability, OR
  • the veteran was receiving VA pension or compensation at the time of death, OR
  • the veteran was entitled to receive VA pension or compensation, but decided not to
  • reduce his/her military retirement or disability pay, OR
  • the veteran died while hospitalized by VA, or while receiving care under VA contract at a non-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 had an original or reopened claim pending at the time of death and has been found entitled to compensation or pension from a date prior to the date or death, OR
  • the veteran died on or after October 9, 1996, while a patient at a VA-approved state nursing home.


How do you apply?


Veterans benefits are not paid automatically. It is your responsibility to contact the Veterans Administration. You can download the application for burial benefits (Form 21-530) here. To ensure prompt handling of your claim, have the following information ready:

  • Social Security number for yourself and your dependent children
  • Certified copy of original DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty)
  • Certified copy of Death Certificate
  • Verification of the life insurance amount you will receive as a result of the veterans death
  • Paid receipts for hospital and doctor bills incurred by last illness, if applicable
  • Paid receipts for funeral and cemetery expenses
  • If either yourself or the veteran was previously married, provide a certified copy of the original divorce decree or death certificate proving the previous marriage was dissolved by divorce or death
  • If there are dependent children, you will need an original birth certificate for each child under 18 or over 18 if full-time student
  • If over 18 and still in school, you will need to fill out VA Form 21-674
  • If you or the veteran receive Social Security Benefits, the exact amount must be reported
  • If you already have a VA claim number, you must furnish the claim number you have been assigned
  • If you or the veteran receive additional income, the source and exact amount must be reported

If you would like to submit a request for the military records of the deceased, you can download and follow the instructions of this form.



Reimbursement of Burial Expenses


VA will pay a burial allowance up to $2,000 if the veteran's death is service connected. VA also will pay the cost of transporting the remains of a service-disabled veteran to the national cemetery nearest the home of a deceased that has available gravesites. In such cases, the person who bore the veteran's burial expenses may claim reimbursement from VA. VA will pay a $300 burial and funeral expense allowance for veterans who, at time of death, were entitled to receive pension or compensation or would have been entitled to compensation but for receipt of military retirement pay. Eligibility also is established when death occurs in a VA facility or a nursing home with which VA contracted. Additional costs of transportation of the remains may be reimbursed. There is no time limit for filing reimbursement claims of service-connected deaths. In other deaths, claims must be filed within two years after permanent burial or cremation.

VA will pay a $300 plot allowance when the veteran is not buried in a cemetery that is under U.S. Government jurisdiction if the veteran is discharged from active duty because of disability incurred or aggravated in line of duty, if the veteran was in receipt of compensation or pension or would have been in receipt of compensation but for receipt of military retired pay, or if the veteran died while hospitalized by VA. The plot allowance is not payable solely on wartime service.

If the veteran is buried without charge for the cost of a plot or interment in a state-owned cemetery reserved solely for veteran burials, the $300 plot allowance may be paid to the state. Burial expenses paid by the deceased's employer or a state agency will not be reimbursed.



Burial Flags


VA provides an American flag to drape the casket of a veteran and to a person entitled to retired military pay. After the funeral service, the flag may be given to the next of kin or a close associate. VA also will issue a flag on behalf of a service member who was missing in action and later presumed dead. Flags are issued at VA regional offices, national cemeteries, and post offices.



Burial in National VA Cemeteries


Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, opening and closing of the grave, and perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria for the inurnment of cremated remains or special gravesites for the burial of cremated remains. Headstones and markers and their placement are provided at the government's expense.

Veterans and armed forces members who die on active duty are eligible for burial in one of VA's 114 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under honorable or general conditions and have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service with a reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible.

Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a non-veteran, and whose remarriage was terminated by death or divorce, is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

Gravesites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved. Funeral directors or others making burial arrangements must apply at the time of death. Reservations made under previous programs are honored. The National Cemetery System normally does not conduct burials on weekends. A weekend caller, however, will be directed to on of three strategically located VA cemetery offices that remain open during weekends to schedule burials at the cemetery of the caller's choice during the following week.



Arlington National Cemetery


For information about our veterans burial services at Arlington National Cemetery, please click here.



Burial at Sea


United States Navy Mortuary Affairs Burial At Sea Program

BURIAL AT SEA (BAS) is a means of final disposition of remains that is performed on United States Naval vessels. The committal ceremony is performed while the ship is deployed, therefore, family members are not allowed to be present. The commanding officer of the ship assigned to perform the ceremony will make notification to the family of the date, time, latitude and longitude, once the committal service has been completed.

Eligibility: Individuals eligible for this program are: (1) active duty members of the uniformed services; (2) retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged. (3) U.S. civilian marine personnel of the Military Sealift Command; and (4) dependent family members of active duty personnel, retirees, and veterans of the uniformed services.

How to get Started: After the death of the individual for whom the request for Burial at Sea is being made, the Person Authorized to Direct Disposition (PADD) should print out and complete the linked Burial at Sea Request Form. Supporting documents which must accompany this request are: (1) a photocopy of the death certificate; (2) the burial transit permit or the cremation certificate; and (3) a copy of the DD Form 214, discharge certificate, or retirement order.

Burial Flag: A Burial Flag, is required for all committal services performed aboard United States Naval vessels, with the exception of family members who are not authorized a burial flag. The PADD may wish to send a flag with the remains/cremains to be flown on the vessel during the committal service. Following the services at sea, that flag will be returned to the PADD. If the PADD does not wish to send a burial flag, the ship’s flag will be flown during the committal service, but no flag will be forwarded to the family.

Cremated Remains (Cremains): Cremains must be in an urn, may be temporary (plastic/metal/cardboard) container to prevent spillage in shipping. The cremains, along with the completed BAS package, and the burial flag will be forwarded to the Burial-at-Sea Coordinator at the desired port of embarkation (listed below). Prior to shipment, it is recommended that a phone call be made informing the coordinator of the pending request. It is recommended that the packaged cremains be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested.

Intact Remains (Casketed): Specific guidelines are required for the preparation of casketed remains to be buried at sea. Remains must be in a metal casket. All expenses incurred in this process are the responsibility of the PADD, who will select a funeral home in the area of the port of embarkation. Remains are not forwarded to the receiving funeral home until the coordinator is notified a ship has been assigned and an embarkation date is anticipated. The coordinator will advise regarding shipment to the receiving funeral home to allow sufficient time for casket preparation. The casketed remains, the request form, supporting documents, and the burial flag are to be forwarded to the receiving funeral home. Once the receiving funeral home has the casket prepared, the coordinator will make the inspection and complete the checklist for the preparation of casketed remains. It is recommended that funeral homes responsible for preparing and shipping intact remains, contact Navy Mortuary Affairs at the Military Medical Support Office in Great Lakes, Illinois to receive the preparation requirements.

NOTE: Norfolk and San Diego are the only ports for embarkation of intact remains.


Ports of Embarkation / Coordinators


Norfolk, VA
Commander, Naval Medical Center
ATTN: Code 0210C
620 John Paul Jones Cir.
Portsmouth, VA 23708-5100 
Phone: (757) 953-2617\2618

Jacksonville, FL
Branch Medical Clinic
P. O. Box 280148
Naval Station
Mayport, FL 32228-0148
Phone: (904) 270-4285

San Diego, CA
Naval Medical Center
Decedent Affairs Code: BUB
34800 Bob Wilson Drive
San Diego, CA 92134-5000
Phone: (800) 290-7410

Bremerton, WA
Commanding Officer
Naval Hospital Bremerton
Code: 015-BAS/HP01 Boone Road
Bremerton, WA 98311-1898
Phone: (360) 475-4790/4543

Honolulu, HI
Navy Liaison Unit 
Tripler Army Medical Center
Tripler AMC, HI 96859-5000
Phone: (808) 433-4709, 577-7590



For More Assistance:


If you have questions about our Burial-At-Sea program, please feel free to contact our office toll-free at 1-866-787-0081 and follow the voice menu.



Headstones and Markers


VA provides headstones and markers for the unmarked graves of veterans anywhere in the world and for eligible dependents of veterans buried in national, state veteran or military cemeteries.

Flat bronze, flat granite, flat marble, upright granite and upright marble types are available to mark the grave in a style consistent with the place of burial. Niche markers also are available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.

Headstones and markers are inscribed with the name of the deceased, the years of birth and death, and branch of service. Optional items that also may be inscribed at VA expense are: military grade, rank or rate; war service such as World War II; months and days of birth and death; an emblem reflecting one's beliefs; valor awards; and the Purple Heart. Additional items may be inscribed at private expense.

When burial is in a national, state veteran or military cemetery, the headstone or marker is ordered through the cemetery, which will place it on the grave. Information regarding style, inscription, shipping and placement can be obtained from the cemetery.

When burial occurs in a cemetery other than a national cemetery or a state veterans cemetery, the headstone or marker must be applied for from VA. It is shipped at government expense to the consignee designated on the application. VA, however, does not pay the cost of placing the headstone or marker on the grave.

To apply, you must complete VA form 40-1330. Be sure to include telephone numbers and signatures. Use the information on the DD-214 and other supporting documents to help you fill out the application as completely as possible. You can& download the form here, or you can obtain a form and assistance from your regional VA office.

To apply, mail your application to the Quantico, Virginia, mailing address. You may use either the US Postal Service, or one of the mail delivery services commercially available. Our address is:



Memorial Programs Service (41A1)
Department of Veterans Affairs

5109 Russell Road, Quantico, VA 22134-3903



For information regarding the status of an application, you may call:



The Director
Office of Memorial Programs
(403B3)
at 1-800-697-6947.



VA cannot issue a headstone or marker for a spouse or child buried in a private cemetery. Twenty year reservists without active duty service are eligible for a headstone or marker, if they are entitled to military retired pay at the time of death.



Presidential Memorial Certificates


The Presidential Memorial Certificate is a parchment certificate with a calligraphic inscription expressing the nation's recognition of the veteran's service. The veteran's name is inscribed and the certificate bears the signature of the President. Certificates are issued in the name of honorably discharged, deceased veterans. Eligible recipients include next of kin, other relatives and friends. The award of a certificate to one eligible recipient does not preclude certificates to other eligible recipients. The veteran may have died at any time in the past.


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