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Burial and Survivor Benefits for Veterans

Learn about burial and survivor benefits for veterans and how to access them.

Burial Benefits, Death Benefits, and Memorial Items for Veterans

If you’re a veteran and your discharge was not dishonorable, you are probably eligible for burial in a national veterans cemetery. 

If you’re buried in a private cemetery, your family may be entitled to a veteran’s burial allowance. 

You can receive military funeral honors and memorial items whether you’re interred in a veterans cemetery or a private one.

Veterans Burial Benefits and Death Benefits at Private Cemeteries

Family members of some vets buried in private cemeteries may be able to get a veterans death benefit, or burial allowance. Eligible vets include those who received a VA pension or disability compensation when they were alive. The burial allowance can help pay for burial, funeral, and transportation costs.

Veterans buried in private cemeteries can receive military funeral honors and memorial items. 

Military Funeral Honors and Memorial Items

Almost all veterans can receive military funeral honors at no cost. They are also usually eligible for free memorial items including:

  • Headstones, markers, and medallions

  • Burial flag

  • Presidential Memorial Certificate

Learn how to apply for veterans memorial items

Burial in National and State Veterans Cemeteries

VA National Cemeteries

Eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery is typically open to:

  • Veterans of the armed forces

  • Service members who died while on active duty

  • A veteran’s spouse

  • A veteran’s minor child

See an interactive map and list of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemeteries. 

If you’re a veteran or the spouse of one, you can apply to learn if you qualify for burial in a VA national cemetery.  If you do, you’ll get a pre-need decision letter confirming your eligibility. This will make it much easier on your family when they schedule your burial. 

Normally, the process to schedule a burial starts with verifying the deceased's eligibility. To schedule a burial at a VA national cemetery, follow these steps.

Arlington National Cemetery

Eligibility for burial at Arlington National Cemetery is stricter than for other national cemeteries. Only active duty, military retirees, former prisoners of war, and recipients of the Purple Heart and other top awards may be buried at Arlington.

See how to schedule a burial at Arlington National Cemetery

State Veterans Cemeteries

Requirements for burial in a state veterans cemetery are like those for VA cemeteries. They may also have residency requirements. 

See a list of state and territory veterans cemeteries. 

To schedule a burial at a state veterans cemetery, contact the cemetery directly.

Life Insurance and Survivor Benefits for Service Members and Veterans

Get information on life insurance, veterans death benefits, and military retiree survivor benefits.

Death Benefits for Survivors of Veterans

You may qualify for death benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) if:

  • You are paying for the veteran's burial and funeral costs. 

  • No other organization will reimburse you.

You must be the surviving spouse, legal partner, child, parent, or executor/administrator of the veteran's estate. The veteran:

  • Must not have received a dishonorable discharge

  • Must have died under one of several certain circumstances, such as they:

    • Were receiving a veterans pension or compensation

    • Had a claim open for compensation or pension

    • Died while receiving VA care

These examples are not a complete list. 

For more information, contact the VA or call them at 1-800-827-1000.

SGLI, VGLI, and Other VA Life Insurance

Survivor Benefit Plans for Military Retirees

Your pension ends when you die unless you sign up for a survivor (death) benefit plan when you retire. The benefit plan provides a monthly annuity to your survivors. 

If you’re the survivor of a:

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Last Updated: November 10, 2022