VA Burial Benefits for Mesothelioma Veterans

Quick Summary

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.

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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.

family holding veterans flag

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 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.

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.

veteran holding flowers

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.

Other VA Burial Benefits

Burial Flags

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.

veterans placing flag on casket

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.

VA Medallions

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.

Learn More About 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.

Get help filing your VA claim today.

Veterans Support Team
Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) PhotoReviewed by:Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG)

VA-Accredited Attorney

  • Fact-Checked
  • Editor

Eric P.W. Hall (Capt RIANG) is an attorney, a former Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, and a legal advisor at the Mesothelioma Veterans Center. Today, Eric continues to serve as a Captain in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where he is Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, upholding his dedication to his country and fellow veterans. Eric considers it his duty to help his veteran family and strives to help them navigate the VA and receive the benefits they so bravely earned.

Christopher Dryfoos PhotoWritten by:

Contributing Author

Christopher Dryfoos is a journalist and member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). As the grandson of the U.S. Navy’s first forensic pathologist, he aims to help veterans with mesothelioma access needed care.

View 7 Sources
  1. Military OneSource. (2020, March 9). Military Funeral Honors Eligibility. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.militaryonesource.mil/military-life-cycle/veterans-military-funeral-honors/eligibility
  2. National Cemetery Administration. (2020, June 2). Military Funeral Honors. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.cem.va.gov/military_funeral_honors.asp
  3. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, April 30). Burial flags to honor Veterans and Reservists. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/memorial-items/burial-flags/
  4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, April 30). Eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/eligibility/
  5. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, June 29). How to apply for a Veterans burial allowance. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/veterans-burial-allowance/
  6. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, April 30). Presidential Memorial Certificates. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/memorial-items/presidential-memorial-certificates/
  7. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2020, July 16). Veterans headstones, markers, and medallions. Retrieved August 12, 2020, from https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/memorial-items/headstones-markers-medallions/
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