The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers this survivors and burial benefits kit as a source of pre-need planning information and record storage for Veterans and their families. This kit is intended to be used as a supplement to the Summary of VA Dependents’ and Survivors’ Benefits pamphlet.
Included you will find Planning for the Future, a section to guide you through possible end-of-life and survivors’ benefits eligibility. This section will tell you what benefits are offered and when and how you should apply.
For your added benefit, we have provided space for you to add your own personal information that can be kept in one location for your use, and for the use of loved ones. These sections identify the location of important documents, account numbers, military discharge documents, and marital information.
We have provided samples of completed forms that may be needed in the application process. VA forms change periodically; current versions can be found online at www.va.gov/vaforms.
It is our sincere desire that the information and documents contained in this brochure assist you and your loved ones. On behalf of a grateful nation, we respectfully thank all Veterans for their service.
Preparing for the passing of a loved one, or even oneself, can be a difficult and confusing time. The following informs you of what you may need to do, and when, to ensure your survivors have the information and documents needed to obtain the benefits for which they may be entitled.
For the Veteran, when discussing your final wishes with your loved ones:
• Discuss your military service with your family and if possible, locate copies of your military separation document(s), such as your DD214.
• Document your spouse’s and your marital histories. This information may be needed if your spouse applies for VA benefits after your passing.
• Discuss your final wishes regarding your remains. If you wish to be buried in a national cemetery after your passing, consider applying now for pre-need burial eligibility.
For the Veteran’s family, as the Veteran is approaching end of life:
• Speak to the Veteran’s doctor about how to obtain copies of medical records before and after the Veteran’s passing, in case they may be needed in the future.
• Discuss with the Veteran where and when they have received treatment for any medical conditions which you believe may have been incurred in, or exacerbated by, their military service.
• If you believe the Veteran may be entering into their period of final illness, begin keeping a record of any medical expenses related to that final illness.
• If the Veteran wishes to be interred in a national cemetery, locate their pre-need burial approval (if they applied), or clarify their wishes as to where they would like be interred.
For the Veteran’s parents, spouse, or dependent children, after the Veteran’s passing:
Consider if you wish to apply for VA Survivors Pension or DIC.
• If you have a medical condition, disease, or injury which necessitates the aid and attendance of another person in performing your activities of daily life, or are housebound, have your physician complete a statement outlining your medical condition.
• If you believe the Veteran’s death was related to a condition incurred during military service, or exacerbated by military service, obtain copies of any private medical records from the Veteran’s physician (VA hospital records and military medical records can be obtained by VA).
Applying for VA benefits, especially at the time of passing of a loved one, can be difficult and confusing. However, several organizations exist to help you navigate this process, usually cost-free.
Veterans Service Organizations
Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) are private groups dedicated to providing Veterans and their families with a number of services, including assistance with claims processing. These groups can help you by representing you before VA, and can assist you in completing your claim. While these groups are not formally connected to government or VA, they receive VA accreditation and training, and do not charge for their services.
LOCAL VSO CONTACTS (EMAIL):
Before a VSO can assist you you must fill out and present an APPOINTMENT OF VETERANS SERVICE ORGANIZATION AS CLAIMANT'S REPRESENTATIVE (VA FORM 21-22). Click the link below to download a copy of the form.
Below are a listing and links of additional VA Forms:
Intent to File a Claim for Compensation and/or Pension or Survivors Pension and/or DIC: https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-0966-ARE.pdf
Application for DIC, Survivors Pension, and or Accrued Benefits: https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21P-534EZ-ARE.pdf
Application for Burial Benefits: https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21P-530-ARE.pdf
Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes: https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-27-2008-ARE.pdf
Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker: https://www.va.gov/vaforms/va/pdf/VA40-1330.pdf
Application for Disability Compensation and Related Compensation Benefits: https://www.vba.va.gov/pubs/forms/VBA-21-526EZ-ARE.pdf
"Planning Your Legacy: VA Survivors and Burial Benefits Kit": https://www.cem.va.gov/cem/docs/factsheets/Planning_Legacy_Booklet.pdf