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Written By: Camryn Keeble

VA Burial Benefits

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers several burial benefits to the families of eligible veterans to show respect for their military service. These benefits can be used for families of veterans with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease who have passed away. Burial benefits vary depending on whether the veteran’s death was service-connected, the veteran died in a VA hospital, or the veteran is buried at a National Cemetery.

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

Reviewed By

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

VA-Accredited Claims Agent

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

Reviewed By

Retired LCDR Carl Jewett

VA-Accredited Claims Agent


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Important Facts About VA Burial Benefits

  • Burial and Funeral Reimbursement for veterans who died from a service-connected disability, such as mesothelioma, is $2,000.
  • Burial and Funeral Reimbursement for veterans who died from non-service-connected disabilities and were either receiving VA Pension or Disability Compensation or hospitalized at a VA facility at the time of death: $948 for burial allowance and another $948 for a plot allowance.
  • For veterans being buried at a VA National Cemetery, transportation costs associated with moving the veteran’s body to the final resting place will be reimbursed if the veteran’s death is service-connected, or if the veteran was hospitalized in a VA facility or VA-contracted nursing home at the time of death.
  • All honorably discharged veterans are entitled to Military Funeral Honors during the funeral ceremony.

Overview of Burial Benefits for Veterans With Mesothelioma

Burial benefits for veterans with mesothelioma include financial assistance for burial expenses and funeral honors. This financial assistance is a reimbursement paid to the family or the person who incurred the expenses of the veteran’s burial services. Funeral honors include flag folding, military honors detail and playing of taps.

Assistance for expenses includes the cost of:

  • Burial and funeral
  • Plot (gravesite) or internment
  • Transportation of the veteran’s remains

Additional burial benefits include medallions and headstones at the grave site. These are honors given to the veteran to honor their service and not a financial reimbursement to the family.

Note: The VA provides burial benefits for all legal burial types, including cremation and burial at sea, along with donation of the veteran’s remains to a medical school.

Financial Assistance for Veterans Burial Expenses

Reimbursement for a veteran’s burial expenses is sometimes called veteran burial allowances or veteran death benefits. The VA provides this benefit for family members of certain deceased veterans, including those who died of mesothelioma. The VA pays up to $2,000 to help cover the cost of burials and funerals.

To qualify for veteran burial benefits, the veteran must have passed away:

  • From a service-connected disability, such as mesothelioma
  • While receiving VA medical care, either at a VA medical center or a facility contracted by the VA
  • While traveling with proper authorization at the VA’s expense, either to or from a facility for an examination, or to receive treatment or care
  • While receiving VA Disability Compensation or VA Pension
  • While awaiting a decision on a pending claim for VA Disability Compensation or VA Pension at the time of death and would have been entitled to benefits before the time of death
To file a burial benefits claim, the family must submit the following to the VA:

  • VA Form 21-530EZ: Application for Burial Benefits
  • Copy of the veteran’s DD-214 (military discharge papers)
  • Copy of the veteran’s death certificate
  • Any receipts or invoices showing the costs associated with the funeral and burial, as well as transportation costs
  • Statement of account, preferably with the letterhead of the funeral director or cemetery owner, which should also include the veteran’s name, the service or items purchased, credits, and the unpaid balance

Eligible recipients of VA burial benefits include the veteran’s:

  • Surviving spouse or partner from a legal union
  • Surviving child
  • Surviving parent
  • Executor or administrator of the veteran’s estate (in legal terms)

Amounts of reimbursement vary depending on whether the veteran’s death was service-connected.

Note: The VA does not provide veterans burial allowances if the family or other claimant will be or has been reimbursed by any other organization, such as another government agency or the veteran’s employer.

Service-Connected Burial Benefits

When the VA has approved a veteran’s medical condition as service-connected – and the veteran dies from that condition – the VA will pay up to $2,000 to offset the cost of the funeral and burial. This benefit is payable regardless of whether the veteran is being buried, cremated, or having their remains donated to a medical school.

Mesothelioma is a service-connected disability or medical condition caused solely by exposure to asbestos, which was common for military personnel. Veterans make up approximately 30% of people in the U.S. diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer, and hundreds of veterans die every year from the disease.

In cases where the veteran did not file for VA Disability Compensation before their death, but the surviving spouse files and is approved for service-connected Dependency & Indemnity Compensation (DIC), the VA will still pay the $2,000 burial benefit to the spouse if they paid the expenses for the veteran’s burial.

Non-Service-Connected Burial Benefits

For non-service-connected deaths, the VA will pay $948 for burial and funeral costs to the claimant if the veteran was receiving or entitled to receive VA Pension or VA Disability Compensation for a disability that did not cause the veteran’s death. This is also payable if the veteran was under the VA’s care at the time of their death.

For the purpose of the burial benefits, “under the VA’s care” means the veteran was:

  • Properly admitted to a VA hospital or clinic
  • Transferred by the VA to a non-VA facility, nursing home or state nursing home
  • In transit from a VA facility to a non-VA facility
  • A patient at a State Veterans home

Plot Allowance

The VA will also pay $948 for a plot allowance or interment reimbursement, as long as the veteran isn’t buried in a national cemetery, state veteran’s cemetery or state-owned cemetery.

“Funeral Directors are responsible for requesting a Funeral Honors Team. They only require a copy of the veteran’s DD-214 (military discharge certificate). They can also file your burial benefits claim but it is usually better to enlist the help of a VA Claims Agent to submit your claim.”

Transportation Cost Reimbursement

For service-connected deaths, reimbursement is available from the VA for costs associated with transporting the veteran’s remains if the veteran is being buried at a national cemetery. This reimbursement is also available for non-service connected deaths if the veteran was hospitalized or in a VA-contracted nursing home at the time of death or died while traveling to VA-authorized care.
These reimbursements include the costs of transporting the veteran’s remains from the place of death to the funeral home and from the funeral home to the final resting place. To receive this reimbursement, an invoice or receipt of payment showing those transportation costs must be submitted to the VA along with the rest of the burial benefits claim.

Veteran’s burial costs chart

Veteran’s Death Is:

Burial and Funeral Payment

Plot or Interment Payment

Transpor-tation Reimburse

Total

Service-Connected

$2,000

No

Yes*

$2,000**

Non-service-connected

$300

$893

No

$1,193

Non-service-connected veteran died in VA hospital

$893

$893

No

$1,786

Veteran’s Death is: Burial and Funeral Payment Plot or Interment Payment Transportation Cost Reimbursement Total
Service-connected $2,000 No Yes* $2,000 plus transportation costs (if applicable)
Non-service-connected $948 $948 Yes** $1,896

* As long as the veteran is buried in a national cemetery

** Plus transportation costs

* If the veteran is being buried or interred at a national cemetery.
** If the veteran was hospitalized or in a VA-contracted nursing home at the time of death, or died while traveling to VA-authorized care.

Note: These amounts are for veterans who died on or after Oct. 1, 2023. If you are filing for burial benefits and the veteran died prior to this date, the amount is likely different. Please contact our VA claims agent, Carl Jewett, at cjewett@mesotheliomaguide.com for accurate reimbursement amounts.

Time Limit for Filing for Veterans Burial Benefits

There’s no time limit to file a claim for burial benefits for veterans who died from a service-connected disability.

Claims for a non-service-connected burial allowance must be made within two years after the veteran’s burial.

Funeral Honors for Deceased Veterans

The VA will provide a team to render funeral honors during the veteran’s services for veterans who meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Being a former or retired member of the United States Armed Forces
  • Having served on active duty or in the Selected Reserve
  • Having been discharged under conditions other than dishonorable
The funeral honors ceremony typically includes the following elements, although the specific components may vary based on the veteran’s status or the family’s wishes:

  • Military honors detail – At least two uniformed military personnel are present at the ceremony, with at least one member representing the deceased veteran’s branch of service.
  • Flag folding—The funeral honors detail ceremonially folds a US flag and presents it to the next of kin as a symbol of the nation’s gratitude for the veteran’s service.
  • Playing of taps – A bugler will play taps at the appropriate moment during the ceremony to honor the fallen veteran. Taps is a traditional military bugle call that signifies the end of the day and is played at military funerals and memorial services.

Headstones, Niche Markers and Medallions

The VA provides headstones, markers and medallions to honor deceased veterans and commemorate their service. These items are available for eligible veterans, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery, a state veteran’s cemetery or a private cemetery:

  • Headstones – The VA offers various types of headstones to suit the specific needs and preferences of the deceased veteran and their family. The available styles include upright headstones and flat markers. These can be made from different materials, such as granite, marble or bronze. The headstone or marker will typically display the veteran’s name, rank, dates of birth and death, and branch of service. Additional information, such as an inscription or religious belief emblem may be included.
  • Niche markers – Niche markers are designed for placement in mausoleums or columbarium niches. They are made of bronze and include the veteran’s name, rank, dates of birth and death, branch of service and an emblem of religious belief. Additional inscriptions may be added if space permits.
  • Medallions – Bronze medallions are available for veterans with privately purchased headstones or markers, which can be requested by the family when the existing headstone or marker does not have a government-issued emblem or inscription representing the veteran’s military service. Medallions come in one of three sizes.
  • Burial flag and Presidential Memorial Certificate— The VA offers a burial flag draped over the casket or placed with an urn in honor of the veteran’s military service. The VA also offers a Presidential Memorial Certificate, which is an engraved paper certificate signed by the current President.

Note: The VA offers up to $231 in headstone or marker allowance. If the veteran is being buried in a private cemetery, the family does not have to pay for the headstone or marker itself but will need to make arrangements for and pay for placing it at the gravesite.

The VA has specific criteria to determine eligibility for these honors. Please contact our VA claims agent, Carl Jewett, a retired veteran of the U.S. Navy, for help determining if your fallen veteran is eligible for any of these honors. Email him at cjewett@mesotheliomaguide.com.

If the cremated remains are placed in a mausoleum or columbarium with a private marker, the family can apply for a VA medallion to be affixed to the existing marker. The medallion will display the veteran’s branch of service and the inscription “Veteran.”

Frequently Asked Questions About VA Burial Benefits for Veterans With Mesothelioma

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What Are the Burial Benefits from the VA for the Families of Veterans with Mesothelioma?

Family members of veterans with mesothelioma can receive reimbursement for the funeral service and the veteran’s plot or interment at the gravesite. The benefits vary depending on whether the veteran’s mesothelioma was service-connected. Families may also be eligible for transportation reimbursement.

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How Much Are the Burial Benefits for Families of Veterans with Mesothelioma?

For veterans with service-connected mesothelioma, the family members receive $2,000. For veterans without service-connected mesothelioma, the family members may be eligible to receive $948 for the funeral service and $948 for the plot or interment.

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What Does the Funeral Honors Ceremony Include for Veterans with Mesothelioma?

The funeral honors ceremony for veterans who have died of mesothelioma cancer includes a military honors detail, flag folding and playing of taps. The family members can also request a headstone, medallion or niche marker through the VA.

Sources & Author

  1. National Cemetery Administration: Burial Benefits. US Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from: https://www.cem.va.gov/burial_benefits/. Accessed: 04/19/2023.
  2. Compensation: Burial Benefits. US Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from: https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-burial.asp. Accessed: 04/19/2023.
  3. How to Apply for a Veterans Burial Allowance. US Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from: https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/veterans-burial-allowance/. Accessed: 04/ 20/2023.
  4. Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents, Survivors, and Caregivers. Page 80 Burial and Memorial Benefits. Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs. US Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved from: https://www.va.gov/opa/publications/benefits_book/2023_Federal_Benefits_for_Veterans_Dependents_and_Survivors.pdf. Accessed: 04/20/2023.
Camryn Keeble image

About the Writer, Camryn Keeble

Camryn Keeble is the senior content writer and editor for Mesothelioma Guide. She creates informative content to educate mesothelioma patients and their loved ones on news, treatments and more. She also works diligently to raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure and the effects of mesothelioma.