ELIGIBILITY DETERMINATIONS FOR BURIAL – IN ADVANCE OF NEED
Many individuals would like to know, in advance, whether they are eligible for burial in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) national cemetery. To assist them, VA is launching an initiative, the “Pre-Need Eligibility Determination Program,” specifically aimed at helping individuals with burial planning and making sure their wishes are known.
VA will upon request make pre-need determinations of eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery in advance of need. Having this information will help Veterans use the VA benefits they have earned, for their families and for themselves.
Once VA determines that individuals are eligible, those individuals will be entitled to the same benefits they would receive were a determination made at the time of need (time of death). These include any or all of the following, at no cost to the family:
- Burial in any open VA national cemetery, including opening and closing of the grave
- Grave liner
- Perpetual care of the gravesite
- Government-furnished upright headstone, flat marker or niche cover
- Burial flag
- Presidential Memorial Certificate
The law provides eligibility for burial in a national cemetery to:
- Members of the armed forces
- Veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements as applicable by law and who were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable
Members of the reserve components of the armed forces are also eligible, provided they:
- Died while on active duty under certain circumstances, or while performing training duty;
- Have 20 years of service creditable for retired pay; or
- Were called to active duty and served the full term of service.
The Veterans’ spouse, minor children and under certain conditions dependent unmarried adult children are eligible for burial even if they predecease the eligible Veteran.
Applying for Benefits
VA encourages Veterans and their spouses to apply for a pre-need burial eligibility determination. Authorized representatives can also apply on behalf of eligible claimants.
To apply, submit:
- VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery ; and
- Proof of military service, such as a DD Form 214, if available. If unable to locate proof of military service, apply anyway as VA will attempt to obtain military records necessary to make a determination.
Information should be submitted to the VA National Cemetery Scheduling Office by any of the following methods:
- Fax: 1-855-840-8299 (this is a toll-free number)
- Email: Eligibility.PreNeed@va.gov
- Postal mail: NCSO, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis MO 63151
Individuals do not need to request a pre-need burial determination to be eligible at the time of need. There is no obligation for those found eligible to be buried in a VA national cemetery.
What to Expect After Applying
VA will review pre-need burial applications and provide written notice of a determination of eligibility (a decision letter). VA will save the information electronically for future reference and to expedite processing burial claims at the time of need.
Note: Applicants should save a copy of all documents submitted and the decision letter received. It is also a good idea to communicate with one’s loved ones or estate planners where the documents are, and about the preference to be buried in a VA national cemetery.
At The Time of Need
At the eligible individual’s time of need (death), the family or personal representative responsible for making the final arrangements, should contact VA’s National Cemetery Scheduling Office to request burial benefits. VA will confirm the pre-need eligibility determination and schedule the burial.
Because laws and personal circumstances change, VA will validate the pre-need decision using the laws in effect at the time VA receives the burial request. We will also check for any bars to receipt of the burial benefit.
Please note that applicants may indicate a preference for a VA national cemetery on the application form, but a pre-need determination of eligibility does not guarantee burial in a specific VA national cemetery or a specific gravesite. VA assigns gravesites in cemeteries with available space once death has occurred and the burial is scheduled.
For More Information
Additional information about the VA Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program is available on the VA website at http://www.cem.va.gov/preneed.