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WDVA COVID-19 Updates for State Veterans Homes, THP, and WDVA Offices

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Eligibility for Pre-need Burial Determination

Many people would like to know, in advance, whether they are eligible for burial in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Cemetery or State Veterans Cemetery. To assist them, VA and WDVA provide preneed eligibility determinations for burial in a National or the State Veterans Cemetery prior to the time of need to assist Veterans and their families with end-of-life planning.

Planning in advance for a Veteran's or loved-one's final resting place can eliminate unnecessary delays, particularly if they do not have discharge documents, and reduces stress on a family at an extremely difficult time. Veteran families will have increased confidence and peace of mind that their loved ones are eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery at their time of need. Having an eligibility determination in advance will help Veterans use the benefits they have earned for themselves and for families. Once eligibility is determined, Veterans and eligible family members will be entitled to some or all of the following at minimal or no cost:

  • Burial in any open VA National Cemetery or the State Veterans Cemetery, Medical Lake, including opening and closing of the grave
  • Grave liner (casket burials)
  • Perpetual care of the gravesite
  • Government-furnished upright headstone, flat marker or niche cover (cemetery procures)
  • Burial flag – provided by the funeral home or available via US Post Offices with a VA Form 27-2008
    • *We recommend calling the local Post Office to verify flag availability
  • Presidential Memorial Certificate(s), VA Form 40-0247

*Please note there is a $300 interment fee for family members interred at the State Veterans Cemetery.

Eligibility

The law provides eligibility for burial in a national cemetery or the State Veterans Cemetery, Medical lake to:

  • Members of the armed forces;
  • Veterans who have met minimum active duty service requirements as applicable by law and who were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable.

Members of the reserve components of the armed forces are also eligible, provided they:

  • Died while on active duty under certain circumstances, or while on training duty;
  • Have 20 years of service creditable for retired pay; or
  • Were called to active duty and served the full term of service.

The Veterans’ spouse, minor children and under certain conditions dependent unmarried adult children are eligible for burial even if they predecease the eligible Veteran. *Couples are placed together in the same ground plot or niche.

Applying for Benefits

Veterans and their spouses are encouraged to apply for a pre-need burial eligibility determination. Authorized representatives may also apply on behalf of eligible claimants.
To apply, submit:

National Cemeteries -

VA Form 40-10007, Application for Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility for Burial in a VA National Cemetery; and

  • Proof of military service, such as a DD Form 214(s), if available (VA will attempt to locate documents that the Veteran or eligible party cannot locate).

Information should be submitted to the VA National Cemetery Scheduling Office by the following methods:

  • Fax: 1-855-840-8299 (this is a toll-free number)
  • Mail: NCSO, P.O. Box 510543, St. Louis, Missouri, 63151

State Veterans Cemetery, Medical Lake –

WDVA Preregistration Application available at https://www.dva.wa.gov/veterans-their-families/cemetery; and

  • Proof of military service, such as a DD Form 214(s), if available (VA will attempt to locate documents that the Veteran or eligible party cannot locate).
  • A Marriage Certificate to qualify a spouse
  • Power of Attorney or Guardianship documentation if applicable

Information should be submitted to the State Veterans Cemetery by the following methods

  • Fax: 509-299-6286
  • Mail: 21702 W Espanola Rd, Medical Lake, WA 99022
  • Email: cemetery@dva.wa.gov

Individuals do not need pre-need burial determinations to be eligible at the time of need, however it is recommended. A pre-need application establishes a case file with the necessary documents (DD214, Marriage Certificate, etc.) that otherwise may be incomplete, damaged, illegible or not readily available at the time of passing. The preneed process allows the family and cemetery staff to work through these types of issues in advance. The National Personnel Records Center is currently closed due to COVID-19 exposures, delaying records retrieval. VA and WDVA recognize life situations may change. An eligibility determination is not contractually binding. Families may cancel preneed applications at any time without obligation.

What to Expect After Applying

VA or WDVA will review pre-need burial applications and provide written notice of a determination of eligibility. VA or WDVA will save the information electronically for future reference and to expedite processing burial claims at the time of need.

Note: Applicants 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

At the eligible party’s time of death, the family or personal representative should contact VA at 800-535-1117 or WDVA at 509-299-6280 to request burial assistance. VA or WDVA will confirm the pre-need eligibility determination and schedule the burial.
Because laws and personal circumstances change, VA or WDVA will validate the pre-need decision using the laws in effect at the time VA or WDVA receives the burial request, and will also check for any bars to receipt of the burial benefit.
Please note that applicants may indicate a preference for a VA national cemetery on the application form, but a pre-need determination of eligibility does not guarantee burial in a specific VA national cemetery or a specific gravesite. Gravesites are assigned in cemeteries with available space once death has occurred and the burial is scheduled.

For More Information

Additional information about the VA Pre-Need Determination of Eligibility Program is available on the VA website at https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/pre-need-eligibility/, or by contacting the State Veterans Cemetery, Medical Lake on WDVA’s pre-need program.