Veterans Death Benefits
This benefit is only payable to the 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, you can contact the VA to determine if you are eligible for payment in the month of death.
Visit the Veterans Benefits Administration website at http://www.vba.va.gov/bln/dependents/index.htm. The site provides a full listing of available benefits and eligibility criteria.
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 (21 gun salute) is also included in the ceremony.
To view the full US Code regarding military honors, visit http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/1491.
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 may go online and request them at http://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records/.
The VA will provide a standard headstone or grave marker at no cost to the family. For specific information on headstones and markers, visit http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/hmm/index.asp.
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. Instructions for requesting a certificate are found at http://www.cem.va.gov/pmc.asp.
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
For detailed information on determining veteran status as it pertains to funeral benefits, visit http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/burial_benefits/eligible.asp.