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Veterans Burial Benefits: Transportation

Posted: February 14, 2014

In recent weeks, NFDA has received several calls from members asking about whether transportation costs are reimbursable by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA has provided information that should answer most questions.

Are transportation costs for a Veteran from one state to another reimbursable?

Yes, depending on the circumstances. The Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) authority to reimburse claimants for the costs of transporting a deceased veteran to the place of burial depends upon whether the veteran died of a service-connected disability or was in receipt of or entitled to disability compensation at the date of death, where the veteran died, and whether the veteran will be buried in a national cemetery.

For veterans who die of non-service-connected causes in a state, VA may reimburse a claimant for the cost of transporting the deceased Veteran to the place of burial, if, at the time of death, the Veteran was:

  • En route for VA-authorized examination, treatment, or care
  • Properly hospitalized by VA, which includes being:
    • Admitted to a VA facility for hospital, domiciliary, or nursing home care,
    • Admitted to a non-VA facility for hospital care under 38 U.S.C. § 1703,
    • Admitted for nursing home care authorized under 38 U.S.C. § 1720, or
    • Admitted to a state nursing home for care paid under the authority of 38 U.S.C. § 1741.

(Reference: 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.1600(c) and 3.1605(b).)

VA regulations identify examples of transportation items and services eligible for reimbursement. (Reference: 38 C.F.R. § 3.1606.)

VA is authorized to reimburse the costs of transporting a deceased Veteran for burial in a national cemetery if the veteran:

  • Died as a result of a service-connected condition, or
  • Had a service-connected condition at the time of death for which he/she was receiving disability compensation,
  • Was receiving military retired pay or VA pension in lieu of disability compensation
  • Has been determined by VA to have no next of kin or other person claiming the remains of the deceased Veteran, and there are not sufficient funds in the Veteran's estate to cover burial and funeral expenses (for burials or funerals occurring after January 10, 2014).

(Reference: 38 U.S.C. § 2308.)

When a veteran is buried in a national cemetery, VA's reimbursement is limited to the costs of transporting the veteran to the national cemetery nearest the Veteran's last place of residence at the time of death. (Reference: 38 U.S.C. § 2308.)

The nearest national cemetery is either a cemetery under the jurisdiction of VA's National Cemetery Administration or Arlington National Cemetery that:

  • Is the closest, geographically, to the veteran's last place of residence where space is available, and where the veteran is eligible for burial, or
  • Is a national cemetery where burial space was reserved for the veteran, usually when there has been interment in that space of a dependent who died before the veteran, prior to death.

The last place of residence is where the veteran lived at the time of death. The place of death is the place shown by the death certificate or other evidence of death.

Are the costs of transportation reimbursable to the funeral home or the family?

Under current regulations, (reference: 38 C.F.R. §§ 3.1600 – 3.1612), VA may pay monetary burial benefits, including transportation expenses, to the:

  • The funeral director who provided services or furnished merchandise in connection with burial, funeral, transportation, plot, or interment, if any balance of the bill is unpaid,
  • Person or persons whose personal funds were used to pay such expenses, such as next of kin or friends, or
  • Representative of the estate of the deceased Veteran or claimant when the estate funds were used to pay the expenses or they were prepaid by the Veteran or claimant.

Can the funeral home charge families for these costs?

Whether a funeral home may charge a veteran's family for certain costs is not governed by VA law or regulations. We note, however, that Federal law prohibits funeral homes, or any entity, from charging families for assistance in submitting a claim for benefits to VA.

Additional Resoures:

Department of Veterans Affairs Online Resources for Funeral Directors