The Department of Veterans Affairs has historically only assessed a United States Veteran’s eligibility for burial benefits at the hour of need. This method of operation has unfortunately left many mourning family members scrambling to locate their loved one’s health information, discharge papers, and to file an application during a time when they are already under stress.
Since December of 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs has offered a program that allows Veterans to apply for and receive eligibility status for memorialization in a national cemetery, along with some of the other benefits that accompany it. The VA offers multiple benefits and services to deceased Veterans and service members. Veterans can receive an inscribed headstone and medallion, as well as a burial allowance that is based on the dependent's income qualifications. An American flag is also supplied upon request, free of charge, along with Presidential Memorial Certificates. All Veterans are also eligible to be buried in VA national cemeteries.
Who Is Eligible for Burial Benefits?
Veterans are able to qualify for burial benefits if they have met the minimum active duty requirements and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. When a Veteran passes, the surviving spouses and children are able to apply for and receive these benefits, pending their Veteran’s eligibility acceptance.
How to Apply
To find out if your Veteran is eligible for burial services in one of 135 national cemeteries across the United States, or for the additional benefits of government headstones and markers, you can submit the VA form 40-10007 to the National Cemetery Scheduling Office. Applicants for these benefits must include copies of all supporting military service record documents, including discharge papers. If service documents cannot be located, the VA still encourages applicants to submit regardless. The VA will assist applicants in locating the appropriate records and can make a determination or notify applicants when additional evidence needs to be submitted.
Things to Remember:
For any family members who are filing an application on behalf of a Veteran who is unable to sign it due to either mental incompetence or physical disability, make sure to include copies of documentation that prove you are authorized to sign for them.
- Supporting documentation for a physically or mentally disabled Veteran must describe the applicant’s incapacity or disability and illustrate your relationship to the applicant.
- Examples of important documentation include a copy of a power of attorney document and papers related to court-appointed guardianship.
- According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, “If the claimant is in the care of an institution, a manager or principal officer of the institution may sign the form as well.”
Handling Final Arrangements
When Veterans are approved, a letter gets sent to applicants notifying them of their approval by mail. This only applies for pre-qualification application. Approved applicants do not receive any more documents, but the VA handles the storage of all supporting paperwork and decision letters for future use. Families can ask for copies of these documents as well. For those who do not apply early, the process is the same. However, applicants should know that it could take up to a month or more for the application and approval to go through. During this time, it can be difficult to arrange for holding services for your Veteran’s deceased body. It is important for you to discuss any final wishes and arrangement that family members would like to understand what kind of benefits are available if you wish to apply for them from the VA. Keep in mind that the pre qualifying application does not guarantee burial in a specific national cemetery or reserved grave site.
No matter where you are in life, Landmark Senior Living is here to make the process of growing older less worrisome and stressful. In the business of helping seniors for more than 30 years - our mission is to provide the best care in thriving communities that foster meaningful relationships for the rest of your life. We care about those who served our country and those who continue to do so. That’s why we’re unveiling a new campaign to help senior Veterans and their spouses unlock the benefits available to them through the Aid and Attendance Program offered by the VA. If you’re looking for assisted living benefits for Veterans, visit Landmark Senior Living in Fall River.