Page Reviewed / Updated – June 5, 2022

Veterans who were not dishonorably discharged from service may be eligible for death benefits from the VA. These benefits include burial in a veteran’s cemetery or financial support with the cost of burial in a private cemetery. The VA has strict criteria for claiming these benefits, and burial/funeral costs are only covered for eligible veterans if the surviving relative or executor of the estate can’t be reimbursed by any other party.

VA Benefits Have Strict Eligibility Criteria

The VA offers death benefits for veterans who meet the following criteria:

  • The veteran was not dishonorably discharged
  • The veteran died while receiving VA care or was in receipt of a veterans pension or compensation
  • A veteran who died after starting a claim for a pension or compensation may also be eligible

In addition, the person making the claim must be:

  • An immediate relative, such as a spouse, legal partner, parent or child or the executor of the estate
  • Unable to claim reimbursement from another organization or insurance policy

The above isn’t a complete list of the eligibility criteria. Seniors can contact their nearest Veterans Services Office to check whether they’re likely to be eligible for death benefits or help with funeral costs.

The VA Burial Allowance Covers Limited Funeral Costs

Veterans are usually eligible for free burial in a veteran’s cemetery and for free memorial items, such as flags, headstones or a presidential memorial certificate. The veterans’ burial allowance is paid to those who opt to be buried in a private cemetery and can cover transportation, the cost of the plot or interment and other costs associated with the funeral or burial. 

If the veteran had a life insurance policy or a dedicated burial insurance plan from a private provider, their loved ones are expected to use that to cover the cost of burial in a private cemetery rather than claiming reimbursement from the VA.