Families of fallen military members bear the brunt of the emotional costs of war and service-related deaths. Unfortunately, they often bear added financial costs at a time of unimaginable grieving. Thankfully, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides support for funeral and burial expenses, which can be quite expensive. There are, however, new developments to these benefits.
Over the past few years, the VA began paying most eligible surviving spouses the maximum allowable burial benefit of what is legally authorized by Congress. Rather than continuing the burdensome practice of reimbursing grieving families once they’ve footed the bill, documented their receipts, and submitted their burial expenses, new regulations now allow for flat-rate, automatic payments to cover funeral, burial, and cemetery plot costs.
For service members who made the ultimate sacrifice, the VA will pay up to $2,000 of their burial costs if they passed away on or after September 11, 2001. Burial payments are capped at $1,500 for deaths prior to September 11, 2001. If the fallen veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, some or all of the cost of transporting the deceased also will be covered.
You may not realize but benefits don’t just apply to those killed in action. The VA is now offering up to $780 toward related expenses for veterans who pass away during a VA hospitalization either on or after October 1, 2018. If they weren’t hospitalized at a qualifying hospital, then the benefit is reduced $300. In either case, another $780 allowance is available for cemetery plot expenses if they are not buried in a national cemetery.
Other non-service related death benefits include:
- $300 for funeral and burial expenses, and a $300 cemetery plot allowance for veterans who died from December 1, 2001 to October 1, 2011.
- $300 toward burial and funeral expenses for those who died in VA hospital care from April 1, 1988 to October 1, 2011.
- An annual cost of living increase in burial and cemetery plot allowances for deaths occurring after October 1, 2011.
In many scenarios with the VA, benefits extend beyond the ones provided only to veterans. One such benefit that may be able to greatly help you and your loved ones is the VA Pension benefit. It is available to wartime veterans and their dependents. We find this tax-free, monthly benefit can be especially beneficial for seniors who are in need of long-term care support.
A number of additional benefits are also available, such as free headstones or grave markers for deceased veterans in any cemetery around the world, and complementary burial flags to drape over the casket, or accompany an urn, of a deceased veteran. Do not wait to contact us to ask us your questions.