ElderLaw News-The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News
ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Little-Known Burial Benefits for Veterans

Burial is expensive.

So expensive, in fact, that people routinely buy life insurance specifically for the purpose of paying for it. Because the DC area has such a strong military presence, we at The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm often meet with Veterans. Relatively few, however, seem to know about all of the burial benefits available to them – and their spouses and dependents – through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Burial benefits available to Veterans and their families depend on whether the Veteran is to be buried in one of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ 134 national cemeteries or in a private cemetery. A Veteran who is buried in a national cemetery is entitled to opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care of the grave, a government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family. Cremated remains are buried or inurned in a national cemetery with the same honors. A Veteran’s spouse is eligible for burial in a national cemetery with the Veteran, as well, to include burial with the Veteran, perpetual care of the grave, and the individual’s name, date of birth, and date of death inscribed on the Veteran’s headstone, again at no cost to the family, even if the individual predeceased the Veteran. It is not possible to reserve a grave in a national cemetery in advance; therefore, after the Veteran or his spouse or dependent has died, the family can either contact a funeral home to assist them with making arrangements at the national cemetery (the family can always make pre-need arrangements with the funeral home, too), or contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-866-900-6417 to schedule a burial. The family will need to present the Veteran’s discharge papers in order to do so.

A Veteran who is buried in a private cemetery is also entitled to a government headstone, marker, or medallion; a burial flag; and a Presidential Memorial Certificate, at no cost to the family; however, spouses are not eligible for benefits if buried in a private cemetery. Some eligible Veterans who are buried in a private cemetery may also be eligible for up to approximately $747 as a plot-internment allowance.

Regardless of whether the Veteran and his spouse are buried in a national cemetery or a private cemetery, any funeral service held in the individual’s honor is at the family’s expense.

In addition to the foregoing benefits, some Veterans may also be eligible to receive a burial allowance from the VA. The amount of the allowance depends on whether the Veteran’s death was service-related; if yes, the maximum is approximately $2,000. If the Veteran’s death was not service-related, then the amount of the allowance depends on whether the Veteran was hospitalized by the VA at the time of death; if yes, the maximum is approximately $747; if no, the maximum is approximately $300. These figures are subject to an annual increase based on the Consumer Price Index for the preceding 12 months. To obtain this allowance, in the past, the Veteran’s family has generally needed to pay for the Veteran’s burial expenses up front, then submit documentation and VA Form 21-530, Application for Burial Allowance, to the VA for reimbursement. However, the VA has revised its regulations so that it may pay an eligible surviving spouse the maximum amount of the applicable benefit up front, rather than reimbursing them for actual costs incurred.

More information on these benefits and how to apply for them is available online at www.cem.va.gov and www.benefits.va.gov.


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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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