California Veteran Burial Benefits

May 3, 2024

Understanding your California veteran burial benefits can be confusing. Navigating veteran funeral benefits requires clarity and understanding. In this guide, we address the frequently asked questions surrounding veteran funeral benefits in California, offering insights, explanations, and resources to honor the service and sacrifice of our veterans with dignity and respect. We hope this guide simplifies some of this process, and offers easy-to-understand facts about the benefits available. 

 

Understanding veteran burial benefits

Many veterans do not know or use their veteran burial benefits. In recent years, 58% of veterans did not receive any burial benefit. In 2020, only 14% of veterans who passed away were interred in the VA’s national cemeteries (source: AARP).

 

1. Are all veterans eligible for burial benefits?

As long as someone did not receive a dishonorable discharge, most veterans are eligible for a burial benefit. It is not restricted to those who served in combat only. In addition, a spouse or minor child of a veteran is also eligible.

 

2. How do I know if I am eligible?

The VA clearly spells out eligibility. We’ve taken the following directly from their website:

“You may be eligible for Veterans burial allowances if you’re paying for the burial and funeral costs and you won’t be reimbursed by any other organization, like another government agency or the Veteran’s employer. You must also meet all of these requirements.

One of these relationships or professional roles describes your connection to the Veteran:

  • You’re the Veteran’s surviving spouse (Note: We recognize same-sex marriages.), or
  • You’re the surviving partner from a legal union (a relationship made formal in a document issued by the state recognizing the union), or
  • You’re a surviving child of the Veteran, or
  • You’re a parent of the Veteran, or
  • You’re the executor or administrator of the Veteran’s estate (someone who officially represents the Veteran)

The Veteran must not have received a dishonorable discharge, and one of these circumstances must be true:

  • The Veteran died as a result of a service-connected disability (a disability related to service), or
  • The Veteran died while getting VA care, either at a VA facility or at a facility contracted by VA, or
  • The Veteran died while traveling with proper authorization, and at VA’s expense, either to or from a facility for an examination, or to receive treatment or care, or
  • The Veteran died with an original or reopened claim for VA compensation or pension pending at the time of death, and they would’ve been entitled to benefits before the time of death, or
  • The Veteran died while receiving a VA pension or compensation, or
  • The Veteran died while eligible for compensation or a VA pension at their time of death, but instead received full military retirement or disability pay

Or:

  • The Veteran had been getting a VA pension or compensation when they died, or
  • The Veteran had chosen to get military retired pay instead of compensation

Note: We’ll also provide an allowance for the cost of transporting a Veteran’s remains for burial in a national cemetery.

You can’t get burial allowances for certain individuals

We don’t provide burial allowances if the individual died in any of these ways:

  • On active duty, or
  • While serving as a member of Congress, or
  • While serving a federal prison sentence”

 

3. What documentation is required?

According to the VA website, there are several pieces of supporting documentation that you will need to supply: 

  • The Veteran’s military discharge papers (DD214 or other separation documents)
  • The Veteran’s death certificate
  • Any documents or receipts you have for the cost of transporting the Veteran’s remains
  • A statement of account (preferably with the letterhead of the funeral director or cemetery owner). Coastal Funeral Center is happy to work with you to provide this.

The statement of account should include this information:

  • The Veteran’s name
  • The type of service or item purchased
  • Any credits
  • The unpaid balance

4. Can veterans preplan their services using their burial benefit?

The VA began accepting preneed determinations of eligibility to become preapproved for burial at a VA national cemetery in 2016. Preplanning makes the burial planning process much easier for families when a death occurs. It takes away much of the stress and the financial burden at that time. When veterans preplan their services in advance to use their burial benefit, they have more time to understand their options and make informed decisions. 

CTA: Learn to Preplan

 

Coastal Funeral Center is well versed on both California veteran burial benefits, and in how to preplan for these. We are happy to guide you through this process and answer any questions. Veterans serve on our staff, and have specific experience with these benefits.

 

 

5. What is covered by the burial benefit?

The benefits for eligible veterans are very generous and include: 

  • The VA burial allowance for burial and funeral costs
  • The VA plot or interment allowance for the cost of the plot (gravesite) or interment
  • The VA transportation reimbursement for the cost of transporting the Veteran’s remains to the final resting place

They also provide burial benefits for all legal burial types, including cremation and burial at sea. Coastal Funeral Center offers all of these services, including scattering at sea with our partners at Coastline Memorial.

 

6. How do I apply?

The VA makes applying easy. You can apply in one of two ways:

  • Online: You can start applying online by clicking here. If you already have an online account with them, a lot of the information will prefill there. You can also save your application as you go.
  • Through the Mail: You can download and fill out the Application for Burial Benefits (VA Form 21P-530EZ). Print that application, and mail it and copies of supporting documents to your nearest VA regional office. You can find the closest VA regional office here.

 

7. Am I eligible for a burial flag?

Burial flags honor our veterans and reservists. You can drape these over a coffin or placed with a cremation urn. The following language is directly from the VA website:

 

You may be eligible for a burial flag if you’re the next of kin or a close friend of the Veteran or Reservist and one of these descriptions are true for that person.

One of these must describe the service of the Veteran or Reservist:

  • They served in wartime, or
  • They died while serving on active duty after May 27, 1941, or
  • They served after January 31, 1955, or
  • They served in peacetime and left military service before June 27, 1950, after serving at least 1 enlistment, or because of a disability that was caused—or made worse—by their active military service, or
  • They served in the Selected Reserves (in certain cases), or served in the military forces of the Philippines while in service of the United States and died on or after April 25, 1951. For more information on either of these situations, call 800-827-1000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.”

To get a burial flag, fill out this application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes (VA Form 27-2008).

Bring the application form to:

  • Coastal Funeral Center, or
  • A VA regional office, or
  • A United States post office. Call ahead to make sure your local post office has burial flags. If they don’t, they can direct you to one that does.

 

8. What VA National Cemeteries are in California?

In California, there are ten VA national cemeteries. Coastal Funeral Center is able to work with you and help select the best option for yourself or your loved one. A complete list of these California VA National Cemeteries can be found here.

 

Additional articles you may find helpful:

 

About Coastal Funeral Center

At Coastal Funeral Center, we are committed to being dedicated guardians of family and community, while holding on to the legacy we established as a family-owned funeral home. Originally A.M Gamby Funeral Home, Coastal Funeral Center joined Green Hills Memorial Park in 2018 to better serve the community of the South Bay. During this transition, we expanded our services as an all-inclusive facility and built on the successes of Green Hills Memorial Park. We’re proud of our legacy of personal service and our deep roots in the community. We’ve been part of this community for more than 80 years. We provide customized funeral service options that meet your financial needs and honor your loved one like the beautiful individual they were. To learn more, visit https://coastalfuneralcenter.com.

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