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National Cemetery Administration


Unclaimed Veteran Remains

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) works with Veteran service groups, funeral industry partners, public administrators, and other concerned citizens to ensure the dignified burial of unclaimed Veterans.

A VA pension or other compensation is not a pre-requisite for unclaimed Veterans to receive burial benefits.

Below is a step-by-step process for determining eligibility and arranging burial for unclaimed Veterans.

Watch: NCA Cares for Unclaimed Veterans

Step 1: Determine eligibility

Contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-800-535-1117 to determine if the decedent is a Veteran and eligible for burial in a VA national cemetery, or

State or tribal Veterans cemeteries also offer burial options for eligible Veterans. Contact the state or tribal Veterans cemetery directly for eligibility determination and scheduling the burial.

Step 2: Arrange for the deceased, unclaimed Veteran's burial

⇒ In a National Cemetery: Contact the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-800-535-1117 to arrange burial for eligible Veterans in any VA national cemetery with available space, or

⇒ In a State or Tribal Veterans Cemetery: Contact the state or tribal Veterans cemetery to schedule the burial, or

⇒ In a Private Cemetery: Veterans buried in a private cemetery may be entitled to a headstone or marker. To apply, complete: VA Form 40-1330, Claim for Standard Government Headstone or Marker

Note: VA will ship the headstone or marker anywhere in the world, but the cost of setting the headstone or marker is the responsibility of the requestor.

Step 3: Apply for monetary burial benefits associated with burial of unclaimed Veteran

Eligibility may depend on the Veteran's place of burial. VA encourages application for these benefits.

For some of the benefits described below, VA can only pay the benefit if the Veteran died with no next of kin or other person claiming their remains, and without sufficient resources available to cover burial and funeral expenses.

Monetary Burial Benefits Available for Unclaimed Veterans by Place of Burial

National Cemetery:

VA-Funded State or Tribal Veterans Cemetery:

Private Cemetery:

Casket and Urn Program for Unclaimed Remains of Veterans

Effective July 31, 2023, VA has changed the Casket and Urn Program for unclaimed remains of Veterans from a reimbursement program to a flat-rate allowance program

What the program does:

Provides an allowance for the purchase of a casket or urn used to inter a deceased, unclaimed Veteran in a VA national cemetery or a VA-funded state or tribal Veterans cemetery if the Veteran died with no identifiable next of kin and insufficient resources to pay for a casket or urn.

Who this affects:

Any funeral home, individual, agency or organization that pays for a casket or urn to support the dignified burial of an unclaimed Veteran in a VA national cemetery or VA-grant funded state or tribal Veterans cemetery.

Amount of allowance:

VA will pay $1,273.00 for a casket or $147.00 for an urn that meets the required minimum specifications to ensure an unclaimed Veteran receives the dignified interment they earned and deserve. Submission of invoice is not required.

Another key change:

VA has eliminated the requirement for caskets to have a gasketed seal as part of the required minimum specifications.

Required Minimum Specifications
⇒ Caskets:

• Standard Size (generally 82 x 28 inches or larger)
• Constructed of 20 Gauge or Thicker Metal
• Has Fixed Rails or Swing Arm Handles
• Is Not Leaking
• Holds the Weight of the Decedent's Remains

⇒ Urns:

• Sealed and Not Leaking
• Made of Durable Material
• Plastic
• Wood
• Metal
• Ceramic / Stone
• Other

To request an allowance:

Complete and sign Part I of the new VA Form 40-10088, Request for Casket/Urn Allowanceand bring to the cemetery on the day of interment. Prior to the interment, have a cemetery official complete and sign Part II. Submit the form and any supporting documentation described in the instructions on the form:

⇒ By fax: 314-416-6340, or

⇒ By mail:
Department of Veterans Affairs
Attention: NCA Finance Services
P.O. Box 141
Triangle, VA 22172