Morbid But Needed: Rule Change Makes Burial Plans Easier

http://wp.me/p1d7d0-9W morbid but needed: rule change makes burial plans easierU.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Nathan R. McDonald/Released

Here’s two fun topics: choosing your own burial place and VA burial benefits. But they’re a necessary evil, so let’s go for it. 

Veterans and their spouses qualify for burial in Department of Veterans Affairs cemeteries nationwide. But thanks to lovely bureaucratic rules, making arrangements for yourself ahead of time has been absolutely impossible. Literally.

That’s because in the past, the VA required that applications for VA burial eligibility be sent in “at the time of need” — in other words, after you’re already dead. Now you tell me: exactly how much paperwork were you planning to fill out after you die?

That’s what I thought. Which meant the whole thing has to be sorted out by family members.

Now a new rule change means that your veteran can take care of the eligibility part of the VA burial benefits ahead of time. And since most of us want to be buried near our husbands or wives, it means we can take care of it for ourselves, too. 

First note, this is for those who have left service only — not for active duty. Also, this system will not let you choose exactly which cemetery you are buried in. Instead, they let you state a preference. Actual location will depend on availability at “time of need” and still must be applied for by your family or through your funeral home.

Here’s what the VA burial benefits change does:

The rule change allows veterans on their own behalf (or a designated agent) apply for burial benefits before they are actually needed, under a process known as “pre-determination,” the VA recently announced.

You can read all about veteran burial pre-determination here.

But spouses aren’t left behind on this one. Spouses qualify to be buried at a VA cemetery based off their veteran’s eligibility. That means if your veteran can be buried there, so can you. 

VA officials said spouses can turn in an eligibility pre-determination form at the same time as their veteran — no need to wait for the veteran to be given the OK first. 

That means you and your veteran can take care of all of your paperwork at the same time on the same day. Planning for the inevitable isn’t sexy, but it is a good idea anyway.

You can find the VA burial benefits form for pre-determination here. 

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of Military.com’s spouse and family blog SpouseBuzz.com. A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for Military.com where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on CNN.com, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.