If a veteran you love has died from an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma, you may be able to access VA burial benefits. These benefits can cover the costs of a funeral and provide special services to honor the veteran’s sacrifices.
Veterans Burial Benefits Explained
Military service members put their lives at stake to defend our country, whether through active-duty combat or through exposure to cancer-causing materials like asbestos. Today, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers a wide range of burial benefits to give eligible veterans a proper send-off.
Almost all veterans and reservists can be buried in a national VA cemetery if they didn’t receive a dishonorable discharge. The VA also covers some of the burial expenses.
Other VA burial benefits include:
- Funeral honors
- Headstones or medallions
- Memorial flags
- Opening and closing of the grave
- Perpetual care
- Presidential Memorial Certificates (PMCs)
While most veterans with mesothelioma qualify for these benefits, the VA provides more compensation to those who died in active duty or from service-related health problems like mesothelioma.
Additionally, a veteran’s eligible spouses and dependent children may qualify for interment (burial) in a national cemetery. State veterans cemeteries may charge for burial of family members.
Get a free veterans packet to see if you can pursue burial benefits and other VA resources.
Why Seek VA Burial Benefits for Mesothelioma Veterans?
Through VA burial benefits, you can:
- Give your loved one a dignified funeral: Veterans and the U.S. Armed Forces never knew that asbestos — a mineral widely used in military bases, vehicles, and ships — could cause cancer. These veterans deserved to be honored if asbestos exposure during military service led to their death.
- Get a sense of community: Losing a veteran to a cancer like mesothelioma can be isolating. The VA offers burial benefits not only to honor veterans but also to support their families.
- Save money: Mesothelioma treatment can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The last thing you need is to worry about funeral costs while grieving a loss. VA burial allowances help cover these funeral expenses.
VA Burial Allowance for Service-Related Deaths
The VA burial allowance for a service-related death is up to $2,000 if the veteran died on or after September 11, 2001. The maximum allowance is $1,500 if the veteran died before that date.
If a veteran you love died from mesothelioma, you will need to prove that the cancer was related to military service in order to access a burial allowance. A VA-accredited mesothelioma lawyer can help make this process quick and simple.
With legal help, you can:
- Learn where the deceased veteran was exposed to asbestos while they served
- Gather evidence (such as military documents) needed to file a claim
- Pursue other VA burial benefits
There is no time limit for you to access a burial allowance if your loved one passed away due to a service-related disability, injury, or illness.
Burial Allowance for Deaths Not Related to Military Service
Even if a veteran dies from mesothelioma that is not connected to their military service, you may still be able to get a burial allowance. Compensation amounts in these cases range from $1,034-$1,592, as of 2020.
The amount of compensation varies by:
- Date of the veteran’s death: If a veteran died between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014, the VA pays a total of $1,468 for their gravesite and burial. Slightly higher amounts are paid for more recent deaths. For example, the VA pays $1,592 if a veteran died on or after October 1, 2019.
- Where the veteran died: Veterans who passed away in a VA hospital receive the same amount of money for their burial allowance and gravesite. If they died in a private hospital or elsewhere, the VA provides a flat rate of $300 for the burial allowance and $734-$780 for their gravesite, depending on when they died.
You have two years to file for a VA burial allowance if a veteran’s death is non-service-related.
Veterans Funeral Honors
With military funeral honors, an honor guard made up of current service members will be present at the veteran’s funeral.
The honor guard will fold and present an American flag to the next of kin, with “Taps” played by a bugler or via electronic recording. At least one member of the honor guard will be a member of the veteran’s branch of service.
Funeral honors come at no cost to the veteran’s family.
Eligibility Requirements for VA Funeral Honors
Your loved one may be eligible for VA funeral honors if they were:
- A service member on active duty
- A service member in the Selected Reserve
- Honorably discharged
In the final case, you must provide proof that the veteran was honorably discharged, such as DD Form 214 (Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty) or another document.
Requesting Funeral Honors
You can schedule a VA burial and funeral honors by working with a local funeral director and contacting the National Cemetery Scheduling Office.
Visit the VA’s official website for more information about scheduling military burials and funeral honors.
Veterans Headstone Applications
The VA provides free headstones no matter where the veteran is buried.
The following individuals can apply for a headstone:
- Family members and/or friends
- Authorized representative on behalf of the veteran
- Authorized representative on behalf of the next of kin
If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, the headstone will be ordered by cemetery officials, and you’ll need to provide information for the inscription. If the burial is in a private cemetery, fill out VA Form 40-1330 (Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker) to get a headstone.
Contact us to see if you qualify for VA burial benefits. Fellow veterans, VA-accredited attorneys, and patient advocates can help you right now.
Other VA Burial Benefits
Surviving spouses or other family members can request an American flag to place over the veteran’s casket or to accompany their urn. To do so, fill out VA Form 27-2008 (Application For United States Flag For Burial Purposes) and bring it to a VA regional office, a U.S. post office, or a funeral home.
Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC)
This engraved paper is signed by the current U.S. president to honor the veteran’s life. As of 2020, family members automatically receive a PMC if the veteran is buried in a national VA cemetery. You can request a PMC if the veteran is buried in a private cemetery instead.
You can get a medallion if a veteran is buried in a private cemetery and the VA did not provide the headstone. The medallion is placed on the veteran’s headstone to show that they served their country.
Access VA Burial Benefits
Navigating life after the death of a loved one can be confusing, stressful, and even scary.
If your loved one died of mesothelioma, you may have questions about filing for veterans benefits and determining eligibility. Figuring out where, when, and how they were exposed to asbestos may seem complicated and time-consuming — but you don’t have to go at it alone.
Our team is standing by to help you file your application for burial benefits and claims for other types of compensation, including VA pension. We have stood behind thousands of veterans and are ready to provide you with support and assistance too.