Q: My father served with the U.S. Army back in the 1970's and passed away in 2005. He received the military burial, but I'm trying to figure out how I go about finding out if he had benefits that I am entitled to now that he is deceased and what I have to do to receive them. I am 31 years old, is there an age limit? – Craig
A: Craig, I’m sorry for your loss. You can take comfort in knowing your father served his country well.
Once a non service-connected disabled veteran passes away, about the only benefits available from the VA to a child over the age of 21 is a burial flag and Presidential Memorial Certificate. You may have already gotten one or both as many funeral directors will get them for you. If you have not received a burial flag yet, you can request it from any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office by completing VA Form 21-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes.
Next of kin, relatives and other loved ones may apply for a Presidential Memorial Certificate by mailing, e-mailing, or faxing a completed and signed VA Form 40-0247 along with a copy of the Veteran’s military discharge documents or proof of honorable military service to the VA office . The form is found at http://www.cem.va.gov. If your father was drawing a pension or disability compensation, then you may also qualify for the burial allowance of $300. You have up to two years from the time of burial to submit a claim to the VA.
You did not mention if your father had a service-connected disability and left behind a surviving spouse or not, however if he did, that can open up opportunities for more benefits, such as:
• Dependency and Indemnity Compensation
• Survivor and Dependents Education Assistance
• VA Home Loan Guaranty
The real key to deceased veterans benefits is if under-aged children were left behind, if there is a surviving spouse and if the veteran was rated service-connected disabled.