What Are Your VA Burial Benefits?

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Dwight d. Eisenhower

It is fitting that a quote from one of our greatest military leaders is the lead-in for today’s column.   

What Is The Pre-Need Determination Eligibility?

Your government has made it easier for Veterans and their families to plan for VA burial benefits.  Allow me to introduce you to VA Form 40-10007, a nifty little document entitled “Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery.”    

It is part of a VA program that assists anyone who would like to know if they are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery.  It is a benefit that Veterans have earned through their military service.  

This is a big deal for veterans and their families.  Once determined to be eligible, an individual is entitled to burial in any open VA national cemetery.   The benefit includes opening and closing of the grave, a government-furnished grave liner, perpetual care of the gravesite and a government-furnished upright headstone, flat marker or niche cover, at no cost to the veteran’s family.  Veterans are also eligible for a burial flag and Presidential Memorial Certificate.  

How Do You Know If You Have Veteran Burial Benefits?

The burial benefits are open to all members of the armed forces and Veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements and who were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.  Spouses, minor children and some dependent unmarried adult children can also qualify. The VA does recognize common-law spouses for Texas residents.

The form must be submitted by the eligible claimant along with a copy of the DD214 or other supporting military documentation. 

I Can’t Submit My Form Personally, What Can I Do?

If the claimant is unable to personally submit a form, then it may be submitted by his or her authorized representative.  To be recognized as an authorized representative, an individual must first submit VA Form 21-22.  

A separate Form 40-10007  must be submitted by each claimant.  This is a no-risk submission and does not obligate the Veteran or the family member to burial in a VA national cemetery.  

The VA reviews each submission and then provide written notice of its determination of eligibility.  It stores the application and determination to expedite burial arrangements “at the time of need.”  

 

The claimant can request a certain VA national cemetery for burial (or interment of ashes) on the form, but the VA does not give an advance guarantee of place for burial.  It will assign gravesites in cemeteries with available space once death has occurred and the burial is scheduled.  

At the time of need, next-of-kin, the funeral home or the designated representative should contact the VA Cemetery Scheduling Office to request burial.  The VA then locates the pre-need determination letter, validates it and assigns a cemetery and burial spot.

The entire process is intended to eliminate the last- minute scramble and additional stress to find military forms and submit the Time of Need paperwork after an eligible individual dies.  

This is the type of planning that even General Eisenhower would approve.

Virginia Hammerle is an attorney with Hammerle Finley Law Firm.  She may be reached at legaltalktexas@hammerle.com.