U.S. Veteran’s Death Benefits

by A-Badgero

Your local funeral home can help you through the paperwork involved in having veteran's funeral.

After 1865 an archived record of the benefits awarded to injured soldiers and veterans of the American Civil war was established. After they retire U.S. Military personnel receive death benefits that would otherwise be unavailable to civilians. Other benefits received consist of retirement compensation, educational reimbursement and access to substitutionary insurance.

Who is eligible to receive these benefits?

* Any Veteran who was honorably discharged or separated from active duty and have completed their required time of service;

* U.S. Armed Forces members who have died on duty;

* Spouses and dependent children of either an eligible living or deceased veteran.

It is the responsibility of the Veteran or the next of kin to contact Veterans Administration (VA) and apply for the benefits – they are not paid automatically. If you are able to have the following information ready you will have a better chance of having your claim dealt with promptly.

What you need to apply:

* Social Security number for yourself and your dependent children
* Certified copy of original DD124 (enlisted record and/or report of separation)
* Certified copy of death certificate
* Verification of the life insurance amount you will receive as a result of veteran’s death
* Paid receipts for hospital and doctor bills incurred by last illness, if applicable
* Paid receipts for funeral and cemetery expenses, if applicable
* If you have dependent children you will need an original birth certificate for child under 18 or over 18 if a full-time student
* If child is over 18 and attending school, you will need to fill out Veterans Administration form 21-674
* If you or the veteran receive Social Security Benefits, you must report the exact amount
* 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 a veteran’s death is service related, the Veterans Administration will pay a burial allowance of up to $2000. The government will also cover the expense of transporting a deceased veteran’s remains to the national cemetery closest to their home. If death occurs in a VA facility or a nursing home contracted by the Veteran’s Administration the veteran’s eligibility for burial allowance is established automatically.

Grave sites in national cemeteries cannot be reserved, funeral directors or anyone making burial arrangements for a veteran must apply at the time of death. Anyone who took on the expense of a veteran’s funeral may claim reimbursement from the VA. There is no limit of time for claiming reimbursement of service connected deaths however, in the case of non service deaths, claims must be filed within two years after burial or cremation.

VA will provide an American Flag to drape over the casket, after the service this flag will be presented to your next of kin or close associate for safe keeping. Flags are usually issued at VA regional offices however, some funeral homes will go the extra step and obtain the flag for you and present it to you at the service.

To be eligible to be buried in one of the VA’s 114 National Cemeteries you must be a veteran or armed forces member who died during active duty. When you are buried in a VA national cemetery your benefits will include the gravesite, the opening and closing of the grave and perpetual care. Headstones and markers are provided at the government’s expense. Many of the national cemeteries are equipped with a columbarium for the inurnment of cremated remains or special grave sites for cremains burials.

Spouses and children (under the age of 18) of eligible veterans or armed forces members are also eligible to be buried in a national cemetery. However, the widow of an eligible veteran will be exempt if she remarries a non-veteran unless the marriage is terminated by death or divorce in which case she will again be authorized.

VA will provide headstones and markers for the unmarked graves of veterans and their eligible dependents anywhere in the world in national, state veteran or military cemeteries. VA cannot issue a headstone or marker for a dependent buried in a private cemetery. Headstones are inscribed with the deceased’s basic information, information such as military grade, rank or rate, emblems reflecting one’s beliefs, valor awards and the purple heart may also be added at the expense of VA.

For veterans whose remains are not available for burial the VA will provide a plot and a headstone or marker in a national cemetery. If the next of kin wishes the marker to be in a cemetery other than a national one the VA will supply the marker and will pay shipping however, the cost of the plot must be paid by the family.

Presidential Memorial Certificates are issued in the name of honorably discharged or deceased veterans and are issued to next of kin or other relatives. It is a parchment certificate with an expression of the nation’s recognition of the veteran’s service. The veteran’s name is inscribed and the certificate bears the signature of the president.

These benefits are not only deserved, they are owed to the heroes who selflessly gave their lives to ensure we would have our freedoms in the future. Recognition of their sacrifices is the least that can be done.

Read more:

United States Department of Veterans Affairs

Find State Veterans Cemeteries

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