Final expense planning for veterans

By Mary Markovich

Affordable VA Accreditation Training


To help veterans and their families properly plan for their burial and funeral costs, these families need accurate information and the opportunity to buy life insurance to pay for the rising costs of their final expenses. The following is a summary of VA burial benefits.

Many veterans think that Veterans Affairs will pay for all their burial costs. To help veterans and their families properly plan for their burial and funeral costs, these families need accurate information and the opportunity to buy life insurance to pay for the rising costs of their final expenses.

Accredited agents can provide a valuable service in assisting families of deceased veterans or even veterans who are currently thinking about end-of-life planning. The following is a summary of VA burial benefits.

1. Burial allowance:

A veteran who passes away from a service-connected disability is entitled to a burial allowance for the total cost of the funeral, burial and transportation, or $2,000, whichever is less. An additional separate amount is payable for transportation, if the veteran is buried in a National Cemetery. There is no time limit in filing for reimbursement for a service-connected death.

A veteran who passes away from a nonservice-connected disability may be entitled to a burial allowance of $300 with an additional $300 plot or interment allowance. An additional separate amount is available for transportation to a National Cemetery or from the place of death to the place of burial, if the veteran dies at a VA Medical Center, hospitalized at a non-VAMC under DVA authorization or while traveling under VA authorization. The application for reimbursement must be filed with two years of the veteran's burial.

For burial allowances, the family needs the following:

VA-Form 21-530 - Application for Burial Benefits, death certificate funeral receipt, and medical evidence to support service-connected death, transportation bill/invoice

2. Grave markers:

The VA furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a headstone or marker to mark the gravesite of an eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. There is no time limit for ordering the marker. Headstones are provided for eligible spouses and dependents of veterans, when buried in a national, military or state veteran’s cemetery. Dependents buried in a private cemetery are not eligible for a headstone. Any deceased veteran discharged from the U. S. armed forces under conditions other than dishonorable is eligible to receive the grave marker.

For a grave marker, the family will need:

Form 40-1330 - Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker, death certificate, DD-214, birth certificate (if discrepancy noticed)

3. U. S. flags:

The VA furnishes flags to drape the caskets of veterans, certain members of the National Guard, and of the Selected Reserve (not inactive reserves). Veterans must be discharged or released from military service under conditions other than dishonorable. The flag is presented to the next of kin or close friend following interment.

The family will need:

VA Form 2008 - Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes, death certificate, DD-214 (for each enlistment)

4. The Presidential Memorial Certificate Program:

The program was initiated in March 1962 by President John F. Kennedy to honor the memory of honorably discharged, deceased veterans. The VA administers the program by preparing the certificate that bears the president’s signature and expresses the country’s grateful recognition of the veteran’s service in the U.S. armed forces.

The family will need:

Form 40-0247, death certificate, DD-214 (for each enlistment)