Program Description

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) burial allowance is a monetary benefit that is generally paid at the maximum amount authorized by law for an eligible Veteran's burial and funeral costs. VA may grant additional benefits for plot, interment, and/or transportation expenses.

General Program Requirements

VA automatically pays a burial benefit to the eligible surviving spouse of record when a Veteran's death is reported. If no surviving spouse is of record, VA will pay the first living person to file a claim of those listed below:

  • Veteran's surviving spouse; OR
  • The survivor of a legal union* between the deceased Veteran and the survivor; OR
  • Veteran's child(ren), regardless of age; OR
  • Veteran's parents or surviving parent; OR
  • Executor or administrator of the estate of the deceased Veteran. If no executor or administrator has been appointed, VA may pay burial benefits based on a claim filed by a person acting for such estate who will distribute the burial benefits to the person or persons entitled to such distribution under the laws of the Veteran's last State of residence.

*Legal union means a formal relationship between the decedent and the survivor that

  • existed on the date of the Veteran's death
  • was recognized under the law of the State in which the couple formalized the relationship, and
  • was evidenced by the State's issuance of documentation memorializing the relationship.

Other individuals and entities, such as funeral homes, are eligible claimants only if the Veteran's remains are unclaimed.

To qualify for burial benefits, a Veteran must have been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, and must meet at least one of the following requirements*

  • The Veteran died as a result of a service related disability, OR
  • The Veteran was receiving or entitled to receive VA pension or compensation at the time of death, OR
  • The Veteran died while hospitalized in a VA medical facility, or while receiving care under a 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 re-opened claim pending at the time of death and would have been entitle to VA compensation or pension from a date prior to the date of death, OR
  • The Veteran died on or after October 9, 1996, while a patient at a VA-approved state nursing home.

*The above requirements do not apply for Veterans whose remains are unclaimed. For VA to pay a burial allowance in these instances, the remains of the deceased Veterans must be unclaimed, and there must be insufficient resources available in the Veteran's estate to cover the burial expense. 

For more specific information, refer to the Burial factsheet.

Your Next Steps

The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this program.

Application Process

To complete an application, you may visit https://www.vets.gov/burials-and-memorials/application/530/introduction and apply online. You may also download VA Form 21P-530,  "Application for Burial Benefits", and mail or fax it to the VA Pension Management Center (PMC) that serves your state. Check the the PMC Locator to find the PMC having jurisdiction over your claim. You may also visit your local regional benefit office and turn in your application for processing. 

 

Program Contact Information

If you have questions:

To apply for additional benefits and view your benefit status, open an eBenefits Premium account. eBenefits is a one-stop source for information on Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs benefits and services. With a free Premium level eBenefits account, Veterans, Servicemembers and their family members can conduct self-service transactions such as checking claim status information, enrolling in GI Bill, and obtaining copies of civil service preference letters, DD214, and other personal information. For further information and to register for a free Premium level account, visit the eBenefits website.

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