Losing a loved one to death is devastating but losing someone who was also a veteran can be even more painful when their sacrifice for the U.S. and its way of life is remembered.
In some cases, family members learn after a veteran’s death that the individual died without leaving behind any burial insurance or funds to cover the cost of a proper burial with military rights.
Fortunately, if you are a veteran there are several steps you can take to make sure your own family doesn’t have to face this sad situation. By investing in burial insurance for veterans, you can protect them financially and ensure that you are recognized as a U.S. veteran when you are buried or interred.
Burial Assistance Funds For Veterans From The United States Veterans’ Administration
If you’ve lost someone in your family who was a veteran, you may be surprised to know that there are burial benefits you can collect from the U.S. Veterans’ Administration.
While the regulations around these burial benefits for veterans have changed over the years, the essentials remain the same; the VA wants to make sure each veteran of the United States Armed Forces has at least a minimal amount of money that can be used toward a proper burial.
In July of 2014, the VA simplified the application process for these death benefits, making it easier for the families of deceased veterans to receive the earmarked funds. The VA pays a flat-rate amount for burial and funeral expenses to the deceased’s beneficiaries in one of two ways:
Death Related To Military Service
The Veterans’ Administration can pay burial expenses up to $2,000 for the service-related death of a veteran that takes place after September 11, 2001. If the death occurred before that date, the maximum amount paid was $1,500.
Death Not Related To Military Service
If a veteran passes away from an illness or accident that wasn’t related to his or her military service, the VA still pays a death benefit toward funeral expenses, but it is at a reduced rate as follows:
There is now an annual increase in the allowance for any veteran’s death after October 1, 2011 that is figured based on the Consumer Price Index. This was put into action in 2013.
Who Is Eligible For The V.A. Burial Insurance Plan?
To be eligible for the VA’s burial insurance for veterans, you must be able to prove that you paid for the deceased veteran’s funeral and/or burial and that you haven’t been given funds for this from any other government agency or the veteran’s employer.
The individual must have been honorably discharged from the military and have been receiving a pension from the VA, died in a VA hospital, or died while traveling for medical treatment by the Veterans’ Administration.
There are several other eligibility requirements for specific circumstances. You can read about them, as well as the documentation you’ll need to make a claim, here: VA Eligibility Requirements for Burial Insurance for Veterans.
In addition to the flat fees available to cover burial expenses, most eligible veterans may also receive a burial flag, marker, Presidential Memorial Certificate and gravestone at no cost to the family.
There are a few important instances when the Veterans’ Administration does NOT pay the burial benefits for a member of the military who passes away.
Internment In A National Cemetery For Veterans
There is another benefit from the Bureau of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) that applies to all eligible veterans – they can choose to be buried or interred in one of the many federal or state Veterans’ Cemeteries across the country.
If they are eligible for this, there is no cost to the family for the actual burial or interment. In addition, the deceased will receive the following at no cost to the family: a grave marker or tombstone, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and perpetual care for the gravesite.
To be buried in a National Cemetery, the deceased must have met a minimum requirement for active duty service and been discharged for reasons that were not dishonorable. In some cases, the immediate family members (usually spouse and dependent children) can also be buried in the same cemetery.
Some individuals who were reservists may also be eligible, depending on the length of service, training and whether they received retirement pay. For more information on whether a veteran qualifies to be buried in a National or State Armed Forces Cemetery, visit the VA’s website and read the National Cemetery Administration’s Eligibility Requirements.
Why Burial Insurance For Veterans is Still A Good Investment
The problem with the VA’s Burial Assistance program is that the cap on what the survivors can receive is $2,000.
While every veteran should make sure their family members claim the burial benefits they deserve, he or she should also purchase additional burial insurance to make sure that all the expenses are covered.
If a veteran is buried in a National Cemetery, the cost of the service, the burial or cremation, and the grave marker will all be paid for by the government, but there are no additional death benefits for the veteran’s family members.
For this reason, most veterans opt to invest in burial insurance for veterans that will pay a death benefit directly to their beneficiaries. There are always unexpected costs beyond a funeral service and burial – last medical expenses, transportation to and from services at a National Cemetery, food and lodging costs if the cemetery is not near home, etc.
By purchasing burial insurance, veterans can ensure that their loved ones have enough money to cover these additional expenses and perhaps have a little bit left over.
Purchasing the Best Burial Insurance for Veterans
When you are in the active military, you are automatically protected by your Servicemembers Life Insurance Policy. After you are discharged, there is a limited time when you can apply for life insurance through Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI), which covers service veterans with burial and life insurance coverage as long the premiums are paid.
Veterans can get the same amount of death benefit on a VGLI policy as they had with their Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) policy when they left the armed forces. If you prefer, you could opt to purchase a lesser amount of coverage, which is sold in $10,000 increments.
Keep in mind that you have a limited window of opportunity to apply for VGLI insurance for veterans. You will have to apply within one year and 120 days (485 days) from leaving active status to get coverage.
If you do this within 240 days of separation, there won’t be any health questions to convert the policy. Once you are approved, you won’t have to answer health questions again as long as you are current with your premium payments.
Premium Rates for VGLI Insurance
|Amount of Insurance||Age
29 & Below
|Age 30-34||Age 35-39||Age 40-44||Age 45-49||Age 50-54||Age 55-59||Age 60-64||Age 65-69||Age 70-74||Age 75 & Over|
If you are eligible and want to apply for a VGLI policy, you can apply online or complete the SGLV8714 Application for VGLI form and return it to the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance. VGLI life or burial insurance for veterans is backed and administered by Prudential, an investment and insurance company with an extremely strong track record and solid financial backing.
At any time, you can convert your VGLI life insurance policy to an individual, commercial life insurance policy such as a whole life policy. You cannot convert to a variable life, universal life or term insurance policy.
There are a few caveats if you choose to convert your veteran’s group policy to a commercial one.
You’ll have to choose from a list of life insurance companies that participate in the program and, you’ll have to get a letter confirming your VGLI coverage for r your application. With a conversion, you won’t have to provide proof of your good health, although you may be asked a few health questions.
The Best Life & Burial Insurance for Veterans
VGLI Insurance is the gold standard for life and burial insurance for veterans. We’ve already discussed it above on detail, but it bears repeating that this is the policy endorsed by the military.
If you’re past the one year and 120 days cut-off to convert your SGLI insurance to VGLI, there are a few other companies that offer the best life insurance rates for veterans:
Military Benefit Association (MBA)
Founded in 1956, this association was founded to provide additional benefits to anyone in the military. It now also offers life insurance to both current members and veterans.
You can get up to a million dollars in coverage and some of the company’s plans have rates as good as or lower than what you can find with VGLI
Armed Forces Benefit Association
The AFBA offers a wide variety of service to military members, including insurance, life planning, banking and health plans.
The company also offers these services to firefighters, police and emergency first responders. There are no combat or terrorism clauses on their policies.
Veterans of Foreign Wars & Transamerica
You have to be a member of the VFW or a family member of one to qualify for this insurance, which is backed by Transamerica.
To be a VFW member, you have to have served in a conflict on foreign soil. There are also limited options for the grandkids of VFW members.
Finding the Right Life Insurance Coverage for Veterans
Due to the large number of options available, and a large number of laws governing how veterans’ life insurance policies can be used, finding the best life insurance for veterans can be difficult on your own.
The best thing you can do is research your options a bit more, and then speak with an independent insurance agent who can provide hundreds of options from dozens of companies in order to find the best burial insurance policy for your situation.
It’s entirely free and saves the hassle of trying to find the best rates on your own while giving you the comfort that your family is properly protected in the event of your untimely death.