Does the VA Pay for Cremation Expenses?
Members of the armed forces, whether retired or on active duty, are entitled to veteran burial benefits. After the death of a veteran, family members have to bear the responsibility of applying for the benefits. But not all understand the process or the extent of these benefits. Does the VA pay for cremation?
What about expenses such as an urn? How much can you get from the VA? These are some of the questions you may be asking.
It’s essential to have clear answers to these questions to avoid last-minute inconveniences. After all, some of the benefits only apply to eligible members. As such, determining your eligibility in advance can help you make better plans.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has set out clear guidelines on this matter.
Here’s what you need to know:
Which Benefits Does the VA Provide for Cremation?
The VA can pay for your cremation costs if these expenses fall on you. That means no other organization, government agency, or employer should be paying for the same.
What if you choose cremation instead of a traditional burial? Does the VA pay for cremation services? Yes, the benefits apply to all legal types of burial.
These include cremation, burial at sea, and donating the body to a medical school. So, how much can you expect the VA to pay?
How Much Does the VA Pay for Cremation Services?
For service-related deaths, the VA pays a maximum of $2,000 if the death occurred on or after September 11, 2001. And for deaths before that date, the VA pays up to $1,500 for expenses.
If the death is not service-rrelated, the maximum compensation for burial and funeral expenses is $796 for deaths occurring on or after October 1, 2019. That amount applies to members hospitalized by the VA as of the time of death. If not hospitalized by the VA, the reimbursement for burial and funeral expenses is $300, plus $796 for the burial plot if not buried in VA national cemeteries.
Following up on the VA payments may take time, and you may have to pay the burial and funeral expenses out of pocket. So, ensure you keep the receipts for those expenses since you’ll need them to claim reimbursement from the VA. But for your claim to be successful, the veteran has to be eligible.
Here are the rules concerning eligibility:
Who Is Eligible for VA Benefits?
Veterans’ benefits apply to the subjects, their surviving spouses, children, parents, and official administrators of their estates. The eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery applies to both current and former members of the armed forces, except those who received a dishonorable discharge. Their spouses and dependents have similar death benefits.
A discharge isn’t dishonorable if the death resulted from a service-related disability and occurred in a VA hospital or a VA-contracted facility, and during authorized travel. Also, the veteran is eligible if they died while receiving a pension or other service-related compensation.
How to Apply for Veterans Benefits
If you’re a family member of an eligible veteran, follow these steps to apply for benefits from the VA:
- Prepare the documents: the necessary documents are the veteran’s discharge papers, marriage certificate (if applicable), death certificate, expense receipts, and burial plot information.
- Apply for burial benefits: download the benefits application form (VA Form 21P-530) from the VA website or obtain a hard copy from a VA regional office.
- Submit the application: Submit the completed form plus the documents to the VA regional office that serves your area. You can mail the application or submit it in person. You can also apply online through the VA’s eBenefits portal.
- Wait for the decision: The VA will review your application and contact you with a decision. If approved, they’ll reimburse expenses.
Florida Family Cremation’s Veterans Services
Florida Family Cremations shows respect to deceased members of the armed forces by providing them with an honorable send-off. From receiving the body to handling cremated remains, we conduct the entire cremation process with dignity and integrity.
We understand the VA provides limited reimbursements to veterans eligible for benefits. That’s why we offer affordable cremation services in Clearwater to former servicemen and women. Besides veterans’ services, we also have simple or direct cremation.
Contact us to learn more about these and other services.