Many individuals would like to know, in advance, whether they are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery. To assist them, the VA has created the "Pre-Need Eligibility Determination Program," specifically aimed at helping individuals with burial planning and making sure their wishes are known.
The VA Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program can greatly reduce stress on surviving family members in trying times..
You can apply for a Pre-Need Burial Eligibility Determination online from the VA at any time.
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.
You 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, the next-of-kin, funeral home or other representative responsible for making final arrangements should contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 800-535-1117 to request burial.
If the veteran didn't complete a "pre-need determination" request prior to death, survivors or funeral directors can request burial in a National Cemetery by faxing eligibility documentation to 866-900-6417 or scanning and emailing the information to NCA.Scheduling@va.gov, survivors or funeral directors can also call the VA at 800-535-1117.
Eligibility for Burial in a National Cemetery
Veterans and armed forces members who die on active duty are eligible for burial in one of VA's 155 national cemeteries. An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable and have completed the required period of service. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible. Spouses and dependent, minor children of eligible veterans and of armed forces members also may be buried in a national cemetery.
A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a nonveteran prior to Oct. 31, 1990, and whose remarriage was terminated by death or divorce prior to or on that date is eligible for burial in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse of an eligible veteran who married a nonveteran prior to Oct. 31, 1990, and whose remarriage was still intact on or after that date, however, is not eligible for burial in a national cemetery. A surviving spouse who marries a nonveteran after Oct. 31, 1990, is not eligible for burial in a national cemetery.
You can also learn more about burial and memorial benefits available for veterans and their families from our Burial & Memorial Overview page.
Stay on Top of Your Veteran Benefits
Military benefits are always changing. Keep up with everything from pay to health care by subscribing to Military.com, and get access to up-to-date pay charts and more with all latest benefits delivered straight to your inbox.