Death after Retirement

Non Service-Connected Death after Retirement

Your years of military service are valued by our nation.  Benefits are available to your family to make certain that you receive the final respect and memorial you deserve.
Burial benefits are available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The available benefits include the following:

  • Burial Flag, Headstone, and Grave Marker -  These are provided at no cost for honorably discharged veterans.
  • Burial Allowance for Service-Related Death -  The VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses for deaths on, or after, September 11, 2001.
  • Burial Allowance -  The VA will pay up to $300 toward burial and funeral expenses and a $300 plot-interment allowance for deaths on, or after, December 1, 2001.  The plot-interment allowance is $150 for deaths prior to December 1, 2001.  If the death happened while the veteran was in a VA hospital or under VA-contracted nursing home care, some or all of the costs for transporting the deceased’s remains may be reimbursed.
  • Death Pension -  This benefit is payable to eligible dependents of a deceased wartime veteran, with specific income limitations.

Planning Ahead

Making sure that the member’s family is knowledgeable about a variety of personal financial and family issues is important.  Experts recommend preparing some type of a personal log to document this information.  There are a number of steps that can be taken in advance to help the transition go smoother for family members grieving from the loss of a loved one.  The following is a checklist to assist people with this preparation.


  1. Be sure both spouses have a general understanding of the family’s assets and investments that includes knowing WHERE the money is and WHY it is there.
  2. Each spouse knows where all important papers are, including bank account statements, investments, deeds, and insurance policies (life, medical, property/casualty, long-term care).  This may include website login information and who to contact, when needed.
  3.  Does each spouse have a will?  (Military Legal Assistance can assist with this.)  Along with a will, does each spouse know the other’s wishes?  Life support and quality-of-life issues are among the things to discuss and put in writing.  It may be beneficial to consider a living will, an advance medical directive, and a durable power of attorney.
  4. Keep one folder with original copies of documents that are important to you.  Locate a safe storage location for the following originals, preferably outside the home:
  •       Marriage and Birth Certificates
  •       Wills
  •       Trusts
  •       Advance Medical Directives
  •       Powers of Attorney
  •       Discharge Papers, Separation Documents (DD Form 214)
  •       Social Security Number Documentation
  •       Divorce Decrees
  •       Adoption Papers
  •       U.S. Naturalization Papers
  •       Vehicle Registration Papers and Title
  •       Keep another folder with copies of these papers in an easily accessible and secure location

5.  Does each spouse have access to current names, addresses, and contact information for the following:

  •       Family Members
  •       Close Friends
  •       Attorney
  •       Financial Planner
  •       Accountant
  •       Place of Worship, Minister
  •       Memorial, Funeral, and Burial Service Details

6.  Does each spouse know where records of past tax returns and current-year records are kept?

7.   Are medical and dental records up-to-date?  Does each spouse know where all records are kept, including pet records?

Reference Phone Numbers and Websites

Air Force Aid Society (AFAS)



American Red Cross



Arlington National Cemetery



Army Emergency Relief Services (AERS)



Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)



Defense Finance & Accounting Service (DFAS)



Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)



Internal Revenue Service (IRS)


For Potential forgiveness of decedent's tax liability see IRS Publication 3 Armed Forces Tax Guide

National Cemetery Administration (NCA)


National Personnel Records Center


Navy Gold Star



Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS)



Office of Servicemembers Group Life

Insurance (OSGLI) - SGLI/VGLI



Social Security Administration (SSA)




Survivor Outreach Services, Headquarters



Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, Inc. (TAPS)



North: 877-874-2273

South: 800-444-5445

West: 877-988-9378


United States Coast Guard Pay and Personnel Center (USCG PPC)