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The VA Expands Funeral Benefits, But a Not All Veterans Are Using Them

Are you a veteran or family member of a veteran? Then there’s a good chance you qualify for VA burial benefits that cover funeral expenses. Read more.
Are You Taking Advantage of VA Funeral Benefits?
Are You Taking Advantage of VA Funeral Benefits?

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Recently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that they are expanding the burial benefits for veterans, which includes cremation and even burial at sea. The news of the benefits expansion brought focus to a few other key points. First, that there are also end-of-life benefits veterans can take advantage of, but many eligible veterans aren’t utilizing any of the benefits that can help with funeral expenses.

We want to make sure the men and women who serve our country and their families get the assistance that they’re entitled to so that funeral costs are more manageable. That’s why we’ve created a quick rundown of what those benefits are and who is eligible to receive them. 

Why Eligible Veterans Aren’t Taking Advantage of Funeral Benefits

The VA is giving veterans more assistance for funeral services, but many veterans don’t get any help at all. Why? Because veterans and their family members aren’t requesting the benefits. 

Each year the VA provides burial benefits for tens of thousands of veterans and their families. In 2022 alone 84,000 families received VA burial benefits. However, in that same year less than 50% of eligible veterans applied for and received the benefits. And only 20% of the veterans chose to be buried or interred in a VA-managed cemetery at no cost.

So why aren’t veterans requesting the burial benefits? Most of the time it’s simply because they aren’t aware they can. 

The VA has stated they are dedicated to providing burial benefits to all veterans that qualify in order to ensure the veteran gets the funeral services they want, that the veteran is honored after death for their service and their family gets help during the difficult time after the death. However, that means the VA needs to do more to make sure veterans and their survivors know about burial benefits and how to apply for them. Funeral homes and crematories also need to be educated on the available benefits for veterans so that they can help their clients get the financial assistance they deserve.

But veterans and their families can actually get assistance long before that time through VA end-of-life benefits.

Advanced Planning End-of-Life Benefits for Veterans

Although the burial benefits are talked about more, the VA also offers veterans benefits they can use long before funeral services are actually needed. While burial benefits technically go to the veteran’s survivors, the VA end-of-life benefits are something the veteran themselves can use to ensure their survivors are taken care of after they’re gone. 

VA end-of-life benefits include:

VA Life Insurance Plans

One of the best ways to protect surviving family members is with life insurance. A life insurance plan provides additional compensation to cover expenses related to funeral costs, estate expenses and loss of income. VA life insurance options include:

  • Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance
  • Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance
  • Traumatic Injury Protection
  • Veterans’ Group Life Insurance
  • Veterans’ Affairs Life Insurance
  • Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance

The Veterans’ Affairs Life Insurance provides up to $40,000 while the Veterans’ Group Life Insurance provides up to $500,000 in coverage. If you want, it may be possible to convert a VA life insurance plan to a commercial life insurance plan.

Advanced Care Planning

Another way that veterans can prepare is with advanced care planning. The VA provides help that allows the veterans to specify their medical care preferences should they be unable to do so in the future, name an executor, create advance directives and manage all of the advance planning documentation. 

Will Preparation Services

If you get a VA life insurance plan you may be entitled to additional benefits. One of the perks is will preparation services along with financial planning. You can also create a living will that notes medical care preferences. 

Advanced Funeral Planning

Pre-planning a funeral is an important step to take for several reasons. Not only does it ensure you get the funeral services you truly want, it also takes a lot of the stress off of surviving loved ones who will be handling the funeral. 

Advanced Approval for Burial in a National Cemetery

Another way the veteran can plan in advance is to see if they are eligible for burial at a national cemetery. If you are, you can receive information on the steps you need to take to plan a burial or interment at a national, state or tribal VA cemetery. 

Burial Benefits for Veterans

The VA burial benefits won’t cover all of the costs related to a funeral in every situation, but they do provide a fair amount of relief. This is welcome news as the cost of funerals increase each year, hitting a high of $7,848 on average for burial with funeral services. 

They are called burial benefits, but in actuality the VA provides assistance paying for a number of funeral-related services. Some benefits provide services for free while others are a reimbursement for funeral fees that the family paid. 

Eligible veterans can be buried at no cost in a national VA cemetery, state VA cemetery or tribal VA cemetery. Currently there are 155 cemeteries that the VA manages across the country. If a veteran chooses to be buried in one of these cemeteries they’ll receive an allowance of $828 and $948 for a VA plot or interment. The amount awarded depends on when the veteran died.

There are also burial benefits that reimburse the family for other funeral costs. The families of deceased veterans can receive between $828 and $948, again depending on when the veteran passed away. The burial allowance reimbursement benefit covers the costs for:

  • Cremation
  • Burial at sea
  • Internment for tribal organizations
  • Donating the body for medical research
  • Transporting the body to the final resting place

Check out our easy to understand guide on veterans burial benefits for more details on what’s covered and how much assistance you’ll receive. 

Do you have more questions about veteran benefits for cremation services? Need help making advance funeral arrangements? The Cremation.Green team is available to help every day of the week, 24 hours a day. Just give us a call, text or email for assistance.

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Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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