Social Security Benefits

Burial Benefits for Veterans of the United States Armed Forces

Burial Benefits for Veterans of the United States Armed Forces / Burial in National Cemeteries

Eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery is based on the length of time in active military service, and the nature of the veteran's separation from the service.

Members of the U.S. Armed Forces who died on active duty, and veterans who were discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable, are eligible for burial in national cemeteries. Limitations to this eligibility began in 1980. Veterans who entered active duty as enlisted personnel after September 7, 1980 , and all veterans who entered active duty after October 16, 1981, must meet the following criteria to be eligible for burial in a national cemetery:

  • have served at least 24 months of active duty, or for the entire period that they were called to active duty,
  • or have received a hardship discharge or a service-connected disability.

Burial in a VA national cemetery is also available to an eligible veteran's spouse, widow or widower who has not remarried, minor children, and, under certain circumstances, unmarried adult children.

A pamphlet titled "Interments in National Cemeteries" available from VA regional offices, provides detailed information on national cemetery burial arrangements. Applications for burial should be made at the time of death by contacting Wenner Funeral Home.

Be advised that Arlington National Cemetery is under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Army, not the Department of Veterans Affairs. With the exception of cremated remains, burial is limited to specific categories of military personnel and veterans. For more information, write to the Superintendent, Arlington National Cemetery, VA 22211, or call 1-800-827-1000.

Burial Benefits and Plot Allowances

A veteran who dies as a result of a service-connected disability is entitled to a maximum of $1,500.00 for funeral and funeral expenses. The costs of transporting the body to the national cemetery nearest the veteran's home may also be paid.

Burial in a national cemetery is an honor reserved for Armed Forces veterans and their eligible dependents. The Veterans Administration (VA) maintains this tradition in behalf of a grateful Nation.

VA entitlements associated with interment in a national cemetery are many. They include:

  • furnishing a grave space;
  • opening and closing the grave;
  • providing the interment site with perpetual care;
  • supplying a suitable headstone or marker.

Persons arranging for an interment should be aware that:

  • for safety reasons, national cemeteries use a temporary site area for the committal service;
  • if the next-of-kin does not provide a burial vault for the casket National Cemetery will furnish a two piece concrete grave box. The grave box is not air tight, nor water tight as is a sealed vault. The grave box is provided to prevent grave settlement;
  • gravesites may not be reserved in advanced;
  • additional inscriptions beyond that furnished by the government are allowed at private expense;
  • graves are assigned at a National Cemetery without regard to race, color, rank, or any other discriminatory reasons;
  • cremations are buried in ground in special size graves. In cases where subsequent family interment is not a cremation, the cremated remains are moved to a full-size grave to accommodate the casket;
  • a memorial marker may be placed for any veteran whose cremated remains were scattered. Memorial markers can also be placed for any veteran whose remains were not recovered.

While this is but a brief look into what you can expect when your loved one is interred in a national cemetery, Wenner Funeral Home will be glad to provide details or answer questions about VA cemeteries or other burial benefits.

Veterans who die for reasons other than service connected disabilities may be entitled to up to $300.00 in burial benefits. Eligibility is established if the veteran:

  • Was entitled at the time of death to pension or compensation (or but for the receipt of military retired pay would have been entitled to compensation) or
  • Died while hospitalized or domiciled in a VA facility or other facility at VA expense.

Eligibility may also be established in some cases of indigent veterans whose remains are unclaimed.

An additional plot or interment allowance of up to $150.00 is available to the same categories of veterans eligible for the $300.00 burial benefits, and to those who are discharged or retired from service because of a disability which was incurred or aggravated in the line of duty. The plot allowance is provided only for those veterans who are not buried in a national cemetery.

Claims for VA burial benefits must generally be filed within two years of permanent burial or cremation. Additional costs of transporting a body may be allowed if the veteran died at a VA hospital or other facility at VA expense, or if the veteran died in transit at VA expense to or from a medical facility. Members of the Reserves or the National Guard who die as a result of active duty for training may also be eligible for burial benefits.

Either Wenner Funeral Home or the individual paying the burial expenses may claim reimbursement for burial and plot allowances through any VA office.

Headstone or Grave Marker Benefits

Eligible veterans are entitled to a government-provided headstone or grave marker, regardless of whether they are buried in a national cemetery.

Applications for a memorial marker may be filed by the next of kin to commemorate any veteran whose remains were not recovered or identified, were buried at sea or cremated with ashes scattered, or were donated to science. Memorial markers may be erected in private cemeteries in plots provided by the applicant, or in a memorial section of a national cemetery.

The staff of Wenner Funeral Home will assist you with any government-provided headstone application.

Other Benefits

All eligible veterans are entitled an American Flag that can be used in the funeral service. This flag, in a military service, is presented to the next of kin. This military service may include a honor guard, rifle salute, the playing of Taps, or the folding of the flag.

Eligible veterans ma y also request the Presidential Memorial Certificate, a parchment certificate with a calligraphic inscription expressing the Nation's grateful recognition of the veteran's service. The veteran's name is inscribed and the certificate bears the signature of the President.

Eligible recipients of the certificate include the next of kin, other relatives, or friends. A local VA Regional Office generally originates the application for a Presidential Memorial Certificate if a veteran's death is brought to official attention. Requests for additional, replacement, or corrected certificates may be made through the local VA Regional Office.

Veterans Affairs Offices

Department of Veteran Affairs

Federal Building, Fort Snelling

Saint Paul, MN 55111


Department of Veteran Affairs National Cemeteries

Minnesota South Dakota

Fort Snelling National Cemetery Black Hills National Cemetery
7601 34th Avenue S. PO Box 640
Minneapolis MN 55450 Sturgis SD 57747
612-726-1127 605-347-3830


Hot Springs National Cemetery
Keokuk National Cemetery VA Medical Center
1701 J Street Hot Springs SD 57747
Keokuk IA 52632 605-745-4101, Ext. 2054


Fort Meade National Cemetery
Wood National Cemetery VA Medical Center
5000 West National Avenue, Bldg. 122 Fort Meade SD 57785
Milwaukee WI 53295 605-347-3830

(Information provide by the National Funeral Directors Association)