Frequently Asked Questions



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Planning Ahead

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How can I pay for long-term care if I am a veteran?

You may be able to pay for your long-term care through VA, Federal, and State programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. You may also be able to pay using private insurance, or your own personal funds. Read more about paying for long-term care.

Where can I learn more about long-term care options for veterans?

Consult this guide provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs to learn about long-term care options, including home and community-based services, nursing homes, residential settings, and other services and resources.

What is Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC)?

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation is a tax-free monetary benefit paid to eligible survivors of  U.S. Armed Forces members who died in the line of duty, or to eligible survivors of veterans who died from a service-related injury or disease. Read more on eligibility requirements and how to apply for compensation.

As a survivor of a deceased U.S. veteran, am I eligible for compensation in the month of death?

This benefit is only payable to surviving spouses of veterans who were already receiving VA compensation or pension benefits at the time of their death. The VA may not know if a veteran has a surviving spouse. If your spouse was a veteran and was receiving VA benefits at the time of death, contact the VA to determine if you are eligible for payment in the month of death.

How do I confirm eligibility for VA death benefits and services?

Get complete information on available benefits and eligibility criteria at

How can my family request military funeral honors?

The Department of Defense (DOD) is responsible for providing military funeral honors. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery Administration cemetery staff assist with military funeral honors at VA national cemeteries.

Since the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act in 2000, every Armed Forces veteran and member on active duty or in the active reserve has the right to be buried with patriotic flourishes provided by a military honor guard.

Upon the family’s request, every eligible veteran will receive a basic military funeral honors ceremony. This ceremony includes members of the military serving as pallbearers, the folding and presentation of the United States burial flag, and the sounding of Taps, at no cost to the family. In certain instances, a rifle volley, or 21-gun salute, is also included in the ceremony.

The DOD program calls for the funeral home provider to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veterans' family.

View the full U.S. code regarding military honors.

How do I request veterans’ funeral benefits through the funeral home?

You will need to provide the funeral director with a copy of your loved one’s military discharge papers, or DD 214/Separation Documents. This document is necessary to establish proof of eligibility for burial benefits. If you do not already have a copy of the discharge papers, you can request them online.

Read more about VA burial benefits.

Will the Veterans Administration provide a headstone or marker?

The VA will provide a standard headstone or grave marker at no cost to the family. Read specific information on headstones and markers.

What is a Presidential Memorial Certificate and who is eligible?

This engraved paper certificate honors the memory of the deceased veteran, and is signed by the current President of the United States. Eligible recipients include the next of kin and loved ones of honorably discharged deceased veterans. More than one certificate may be provided.

Read instructions on how to request a certificate.

What are the requirements for veterans who wish to be buried in a national cemetery?

For the purpose of receiving burial in a national cemetery, a “veteran” is defined as one of the following:

• Someone who is currently serving, or has served, as a member of the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard)
• Members of Reserve Components and Reserve Officers Training Corps
• Commissioned Officers, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
• A Commissioned Officer of the Regular or Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service
• World War II Merchant Mariners
• The Philippine Armed Forces

Read detailed information on determining veteran status as it pertains to funeral benefits.

Why does Medicaid suggest an irrevocable funeral trust, or burial trust, as part of its “spending down” requirements?

In order to qualify for Medicaid, an individual must meet specific requirements regarding the amount of available assets they own. If you have too much income to qualify, some states let you "spend down" to become eligible for Medicaid.

Choosing and paying for an irrevocable funeral, or burial, trust helps to reduce the amount of assets, and its purchase doesn't violate Medicaid's 60-month asset transfer rule (or in California, the 30-month asset transfer rule). It also ensures that the Medicaid recipient has provided for their final arrangements.

Note that irrevocable funeral trusts are not all the same as pre-paid or pre-need funeral plans, and not all are considered Medicaid exempt assets. Also, as the name suggests, once you enter into the trust, it can't be dissolved.

Read more about irrevocable funeral trusts.

Call your state Medicaid program to see if you qualify and learn how to apply.

Is my advance funeral plan transferable?

You should clarify this at the time you choose a plan. Be sure that the plan stipulates in writing if it is transferable or not.

What role do funeral homes play in the preplanning process?

The funeral home can advise you of different preplanning options and set you up with a plan of your choosing. Once you choose a plan, the funeral home will keep your contract on file in readiness for the day that services are needed.

What happens if you have a pre-paid contract and the funeral home goes out of business?

Before signing any pre-payment contract, you should address this question with the funeral provider. Laws vary from state to state, but in general, should the funeral home go out of business, they are obligated to return your money (with interest), or transfer the funds to another funeral home. You will need to give the funeral home written authorization to transfer your contract to another funeral home.

In the event there was not proper trusting of funds by the company, contact consumer services in your state. It may be possible to file a claim against the provider.

What is a Totten trust?

A Totten trust, also called a "payable on death" (POD) account, is set up as a bank account that you have complete access to and control over during your lifetime, and to whom you have named a beneficiary.

When you die, the money passes automatically to your designated beneficiary without having to go through probate. The funds may be intended to cover your funeral expenses, but the beneficiary has the freedom to use the funds however he or she wishes.

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