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After You Apply for a Pre-need Eligibility Determination

Find out what happens after you apply for a pre-need eligibility determination for burial in a VA national cemetery.

How long does it take VA to make a decision?

The amount of time it takes to review your application depends on:

  • The number of applications we’re reviewing, and
  • How much information you provided in your application, and
  • Whether you provided your (or your sponsor’s) DD214 or other separation documents along with your application

Note: We’ve received a large number of pre-need eligibility applications, and it’s slowing down our approval process. We’ll let you know when we’ve received your application and how long we think it’ll take to make a decision. We’re sorry for the delay.

For more information, you can call 1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (ET). Please wait to hear back about your application rather than applying again.

What should I do while I wait?

You don’t need to do anything while you wait. We’ll contact you if we need more information to make a decision.

If I qualify for burial, how will VA notify me of the decision?

You’ll receive a VA burial and memorial benefits folder from us in the mail.

Your folder will include:

  • A letter telling you if you can be buried in a VA national cemetery. This is called your pre-need decision letter.
  • A National Cemetery Administration brochure and a burial benefits information sheet. These will tell you more about the benefits you’ll receive.
  • A copy of the supporting documents you submitted with your application

What should I do after I receive my pre-need decision letter and folder?

Keep your pre-need decision letter and folder in a safe place. Talk to your family members or authorized representative about your burial wishes—including any memorialization requests and inscriptions—and make sure they know where your benefits folder is located. They’ll need this information to request your burial at the time of need.

What do my family members need to do to request my burial at the time of need?

At the time of need, the person arranging your burial should call the National Cemetery Scheduling Office at 1-800-535-1117 to request a burial. They’ll need your pre-need eligibility determination letter at that time.

We’ll also keep a copy of your letter and supporting documents in our system to help speed up burial arrangements. When your family member or authorized representative requests your burial, we’ll confirm your pre-need eligibility determination based on the laws in effect at that time.

Learn more about planning a burial for a family member.

Will my family have to pay for my burial?

No. If you qualify for burial in a VA national cemetery, you’ll receive burial benefits at no cost to your family.

Burial benefits include:

  • Opening and closing of the grave
  • A burial liner provided by the government
  • A headstone or marker provided by the government
  • Perpetual (ongoing) care of the gravesite

The person arranging your burial can also request additional honors and memorial items.
Learn more about honors and memorial items.

If you’re a Veteran, your surviving spouse or other family members may also qualify for survivor benefits, including help paying for funeral costs.
Learn more about survivor benefits.

What if I need to update my information in the future?

Call our toll-free hotline at 1-877-222-VETS (1-877-222-8387), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (ET).

What happens if VA decides I don’t qualify for burial in a VA national cemetery?

We’ll send you a denial decision letter explaining the reasons or basis of our denial.

Can I appeal the decision?

Yes. If you disagree with our decision, you can file a notice of disagreement within 1 year from the date of the pre-need decision letter. If you don’t file a notice of disagreement within 1 year, our decision will become final.

You can submit more supporting documents whether or not you choose to appeal the pre-need decision. We’ll send you VA Form 4107 (Your Rights to Appeal Our Decision) along with your denial letter. This form explains your rights to appeal and how to submit more evidence.
Learn more about appeals of VA claims.

If VA denies my pre-need application, can my family member or authorized representative still apply for my burial in a VA national cemetery at the time of need?

Yes. Laws and personal circumstances may change earlier eligibility decisions. We’ll make the final decision of whether you qualify for burial at the time of need.

What if I have other questions?

Get answers to more frequently asked questions about pre-need eligibility determination.