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M21-1, Part VII, Chapter 1, Section C – Authorization Payment Issues

Overview


In This Section

This section contains the following topics:
Topic
Topic Name
1
2
3
4
5
6
7

1.  Handling Erroneous Burial Awards


Introduction

This topic contains information on handling erroneous burial awards, including

Change Date

February 19, 2019

VII.1.C.1.a.  Erroneous Awards

In the case where a burial benefit was paid to an improper recipient, follow due process procedures and create an overpayment on the erroneous payment.After due process expires, create a debt, clear the end product (EP) 607.

Important:  In the notification letter to the improper recipient, indicate that the previous favorable finding that the receipient was the proper claimant has been overturned.

Note:  If a priority claimant listed in 38 CFR 3.1702 applies for a service-connected (SC) burial allowance after VA has paid a non-service-connected (NSC) burial allowance for unclaimed remains, this would be considered a contested claim.

References:  For more information on

VII.1.C.1.b.  Example:  Erroneous Burial Payment

Situation:  The surviving spouse of record was automatically paid $300 for NSC burial allowance.  The Veteran is buried in a national cemetery.  Later, the Veteran’s daughter applies for SC burial allowance.  A review of the Veteran’s file shows the Veteran reported his divorce from the spouse to VA before his death.
Result:  The surviving spouse was notified in the automatic burial benefits award that she was automatically paid burial benefits as the surviving spouse.  The divorced spouse was not a proper claimant.  Follow the regular due process procedures to terminate the erroneous payment and recoup monies paid.  The Veteran’s daughter is entitled to the full SC burial allowance for which she applied and transportation reimbursement if receipts or a statement was submitted showing transportation costs were incurred.
Note:  The automatic burial payment decision notice notified the divorced spouse that she was receiving payment because she was surviving spouse of the Veteran.  Because she was notified of the reason for payment and did not notify VA this was incorrect, VA must create a debt.
Reference:  For more information on due process procedures, see M21-1, Part I, 2.A.

VII.1.C.1.c.  Obtaining Reimbursement for Survivor Benefits Payable by Another Federal Agency

In general, VBA cannot pay the NSC burial allowance when any Federal law or regulation also provides for the payment of the deceased Veteran’s burial.
Exception:  VBA will pay the NSC burial allowance when a Federal law or regulation allows the payment of burial expenses using funds due to the credit of the deceased Veteran (such as Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits).
In such cases, VBA will pay the maximum amount allowed for NSC burial benefits.
Follow the steps in the table below to obtain reimbursement from another Federal agency obligated to pay survivor benefits.
Step
Who is Responsible?
Action
1
claims processor
If the claim is not already at the Philadelphia Pension Management Center (PMC), temporarily transfer the claims/notice of death (NOD) folder to the Philadelphia PMC citing, “M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 5.F.4.f” as the authority.
2
Philadelphia PMC claims processor
Send a memorandum to the Finance Activity or Support Services setting forth the facts and requesting reimbursement from the appropriate military service department or other Federal agency.
3
Philadelphia PMC claims processor
Was the service department or other Federal agency able to make reimbursement?
  • If yes
    • return the claims/NOD folder to the station of origination (SOO), and
    • no further action is needed.
  • If no,
    • return the case to the SOO for recovery of the overpayment from the surviving spouse per due process procedures as listed in M21-1, Part I, 2.A.

VII.1.C.1.d.  Reimbursing Other Federal Agencies for Erroneous Payments

In some situations, another Federal agency may pay an allowance erroneously on the burial, funeral, and transportation expenses of a deceased Veteran.  When this occurs, the agency may seek reimbursement from VBA for the burial allowance.
Follow the steps in the table below to reimburse other Federal agencies.
Step
Who is Responsible?
Action
1
claims processor
  • If the claim is not already at the Philadelphia PMC, temporarily transfer the claims/NOD folder to the Philadelphia PMC citing “M21-1, Part III, Subpart ii, 5.F.4.f” as the authority, and
  • Transfer the EP 160 to Philadelphia PMC.
2
Philadelphia PMC claims processor
Assuming the other agency has submitted either SF 1080, Voucher for Transfer Between Appropriations and/or Funds, orVA Form 21P-530, Application for Burial Benefits, and payment is in order
  • prepare a memorandum approving reimbursement, and
  • have it co-signed by an authorizer.
3
Philadelphia PMC claims processor
Forward the following to the Finance Activity or Support Services for payment:
Result:  the agency’s claim is settled.
4
Philadelphia PMC claims processor
Return the claims/NOD folder to the SOO without awaiting expiration of the period for appeal.

2.  Payment to an Estate


Introduction

This topic contains information on claims for burial benefits received from the estate, including

Change Date
March 17, 2017

VII.1.C.2.a.  Payment to a Deceased Veteran’s Estate

If the executor or administrator of the estate of the deceased Veteran is the first living person to file a burial claim, pay the estate of the deceased Veteran.
Use the table below to award payment to a deceased Veteran’s estate.
If …
Then …
VBA receives notice that the estate has been closed prior to approval of an award
  • obtain a certified copy of the
    • discharge of the fiduciary, and
    • court order of distribution, and
  • pay the person or persons identified in the court order of distribution.
no administrator or executor has been appointed
pay the person acting for the estate who will distribute the benefit under the existing laws of the deceased Veteran’s last State of residence.
Notes:
  • In some cases, a claim may not be filed during the lifetime of the person whose personal funds were used to pay the expenses of transportation.  In this situation, payment may be made to the legal representative of that person’s estate.
  • A claim for NSC burial allowance must be received within two years after the date of the Veterans burial.  There are no exceptions to this rule.
  • If no executor or administrator has been appointed, a family member without documentation will be considered the person acting for the estate.  VBA may pay burial benefits based on a claim filed by a person acting for such estate who will distribute the burial benefits to the person or persons entitled to such distribution under the laws of the Veteran’s last State of residence.
  • Specific documentation is not required to show that a claimant is the executor or administrator of the estate unless there is evidence to suggest that the claimant is not the executor.   If the evidence shows that the claimant may not be the executor, then the following documentation is required:
    • letters of administration, or
    • letters of testamentary.
  • If there is no administrator or family member acting as administrator for the estate of the deceased Veteran, make burial allowance payment under the intestacy laws of the State of the Veteran’s legal domicile.

VII.1.C.2.b.  Responsibility of the Finance Activity or Support Services

If a check representing payment of burial benefits is not negotiated by a claimant, settlement is made by the Finance Activity or Support Services.  This applies to checks issued before or after the claimant’s death.

VII.1.C.2.c.  Escheat

VBA will not pay burial benefits if the payment would escheat (that is, would be turned over to the State because there are no heirs to the estate of the person to whom such benefits would be paid).
In the absence of a statement from any public or private source that the burial allowance will escheat (be turned over to the State), make no inquiry as to the possibility of escheat.
Reference:  For more information on escheat, see 38 CFR 3.1710.

3.  Benefits Paid by Other Federal Agencies


Introduction

This topic contains information about the impact of death or burial allowances from other Federal agencies on VBA burial benefits, including

Change Date

March 17, 2017

VII.1.C.3.a.  When Burial Benefits Are Not Payable by VBA

VBA does not pay burial benefits to other Federal agencies if the deceased Veteran or servicemember
  • died during active military service
  • was admitted to a hospital prior to separation from service, but died before being separated
  • was a member of Congress who died while holding office, or
  • was a Federal prisoner.
Exception:  VBA may cover the cost of local interment and award a burial allowance to cover secondary expenses for Federal prisioners.

VII.1.C.3.b.  Death While Performing Official Duties as a Federal Employee

If the deceased Veteran was a Federal employee whose death resulted from an injury or disability sustained in the performance of duty, determine whether burial allowance has been paid, or will be paid, under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, by contacting
The Office of Workers’ Compensation Program
U.S. Department of Labor
Washington, DC  20211.
If the burial allowance has been paid, or will be paid, under the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, disallow the claim.

VII.1.C.3.c.  Death While in Authorized Travel Status as a Federal Employee

In some situations, a  Veteran might die while in an authorized travel status as a civilian employee of the Federal Government.  Executive Order 8557 issued on September 30, 1940, under the authority of Public Law (PL) 79-729, does not authorize the employing agency to pay secondary burial expenses incurred in the funeral and interment expenses.  However, VBA may pay the burial allowance for those secondary burial expenses.
Reference:  For more information on payments from non-VA sources, see 38 CFR 3.1711.

4.  Survivor Benefits Paid by the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB)


Introduction

This topic contains information on the effect of RRB benefits on VA burial benefits, including

Change Date

March 17, 2017

VII.1.C.4.a.  Burial Allowance when Benefits Paid by the RRB

If payment of the survivor benefit provided by the Railroad Retirement Board (RRB) is made to a designated beneficiary or to a surviving relative based on relationship alone, do not consider it in determining the amount of the burial allowance.
Since the RRB considers the total amount paid or payable by VA in determining the total reimbursable burial expenses, VA benefits can usually be paid under the provisions of 38 CFR 3.1711.
The RRB application requires a claimant to state whether a burial allowance application has been or will be filed with VA and the amount of payment received or expected.
Reference:  For more information on Railroad Retirement and Survivor Benefits, see the Railroad Retirement and Survivor Benefits website.

VII.1.C.4.b.  Contacting and Requesting Information from the RRB

VBA claims for burial benefits do not usually require an inquiry to the RRB.
Contact the RRB only if there is no surviving spouse and the application indicates an amount has been or will be paid by the RRB which, together with the amount payable by VA, would result in payment in excess of the total burial expense.
When the combined amount that has been or will be paid by the RRB and the amount payable by VA exceeds the total burial expense, follow the steps in the table below to request information from the RRB.
Step
Action
1
Withhold the award action and send an inquiry to the RRB at
The Bureau of Unemployment and Sickness Insurance
Railroad Retirement Board
844 Rush Street
Chicago, IL  60611
2
Request, in a letter, the following information from the RRB:
  • whether or not survivor benefits were paid
  • who received the survivor benefit
  • the amount of the survivor benefit, and
  • whether or not the benefits were paid as reimbursement.
3
Adjust the burial award accordingly
4
Provide notification to the surviving spouse informing him or her why we did not pay the full burial allowance.

 

5.  Survivor Benefits Paid by a Military Service Department


Introduction

This topic contains information about survivor benefits paid by the military, including

Change Date

March 17, 2017

VII.1.C.5.a.  Concurrent Benefits Offered by VA and Military Service Departments

The military service departments are authorized
  • to pay the burial expenses of a person who
    • is separated from service while hospitalized at the expense of the U.S. Government (to include Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs), and
    • continues as a patient until his/her death (10 U.S.C. 1481), or
  • to reimburse individuals who paid such expenses (10 U.S.C. 1482).
VA burial benefits are also available in these cases.
Reference:  For more information on payments by a military service department, see 38 CFR 3.1711(b)(2).

VII.1.C.5.b.  Election of VA or Service Department Benefits

If a claimant is eligible for payment of burial benefits from both VA and a military service department, then he or she must choose between the two.  However, only one benefit is payable.

VII.1.C.5.c.  Hospitalization and Simultaneous Separation from Service

Sometimes a Veteran is admitted to a VAMC and separated from service simultaneously and subsequently expires.
In that situation, since the separation did not technically take place while the Veteran was a patient and died, payment by the service department is not authorized.  However, VBA burial benefits may be payable.
Reference:  For more information on when a Veteran dies while hospitalized, see38 CFR 3.1711(b)(3).

VII.1.C.5.d.  Exclusions to Payment of Burial Allowance

VBA does not pay a burial or plot allowance when the Veteran’s death occurred during active service.
Note:  Payment of burial expenses may be paid by the military service department.

VII.1.C.5.e.  Disallowing a VBA Burial Claim for Death in Service

Follow the steps in the table below to disallow a claim submitted by the claimant for VBA burial benefits when a Veteran dies in service.
Step
Action
1
Notify the claimant of the decision to disallow the claim and the reasons for that decision
2
Forward the following to the appropriate military service department address listed in M21-1, Part VII, 1.C.5.f:
  • statement of account
  • other pertinent material, except VA Form 21P-530
  • rank of the deceased
  • organization of the deceased
  • service number of the deceased, and
  • name and address of the claimant.

VII.1.C.5.f.  Military Service Department Addresses

Use the table below to determine the address of the desired military service department.
Branch of Service
Official Designation and Location
Air Force
AFPC Casualty Services Branch
550 C Street West
JBSA-Randolph, TX 78150
Note:  Send a copy to the following address, as well
Air Force Military Personnel Center (AFPC/DPWC)
Randolph AFB, TX 78148
Army
Commander
US Army Human Resources Command
ATTN: PDC-C (Casualty Support)
1600 Spearhead Division Ave
Fort Knox, KY 40122
U.S. Coast Guard
US Coast Guard Headquarters
ATTN: Chief of Casualty Matters, PSC-PD-FS-Casualty
2703 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE
Washington, DC 20593-7200
Marine Corps
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Casualty Section (MFPC)
2008 Elliot Road
Quantico, VA 22134-5103
Navy
Navy Personnel Command
PERS-13 Navy Casualty Assistance
5720 Integrity Dr
Millington, TN 38055-6200
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Commissioned Personnel Center
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
8403 Colesville Rd.
Suite 5000
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Public Health Service
Public Health Service
1101 Wootton Parkway, Plaza Level,
Suite 100
Rockville, MD 20852

6.  Burial Expenses Paid by a State or Political Subdivision


Introduction

This topic contains information on claims for reimbursement of burial expenses paid by a State or agency or political subdivision, including

Change Date

December 19, 2017

VII.1.C.6.a.  What VBA Does Not Reimburse for Burial Expenses

VBA does not reimburse States or political subdivisions of the U.S., or foreign countries, for payment of
  • burial
  • funeral, or
  • transportation expenses.
Exception:  VA may pay a burial allowance to a State, agency or political subdivision of a State, for a Veteran whose remains are unclaimed, when the State, agency or political subdivision of a State covered the costs.
Note:  Do not routinely question information contained on VA Form 21P-530.  Accept a negative response to question, Did a Federal/State Government Or The Veteran’s Employer Contribute To The Burial?, regarding prior or anticipated payment by a State or Federal agency in the absence of conflicting information of record.
References:  For more information on

VII.1.C.6.b.  Exceptions for State Plot Allowance

The prohibition against payment of benefits to or reimbursement for amounts paid by State agencies or political subdivisions does not apply to payment of the State plot or interment allowance.
Reference:  For more information on State plot or interment allowance exceptions, see

7.  Death Resulting from Injury Sustained During the Course of Private Employment


Introduction

This topic contains information about death resulting from an injury sustained during the course of private employment, including

Change Date

March 17, 2017

VII.1.C.7.a.  Special Treatment for Burial Allowance

If a claim for a burial allowance is filed in a case in which the Veteran’s death resulted from injury or disability sustained in the course of private employment, liability for burial expenses may arise under workers’ compensation or employers’ liability laws.

VII.1.C.7.b.  When Death Resulted from Injury Sustained During the Course of Private Employment

Defer adjudication of the claim until it is established whether any amount has been or may be paid toward the Veteran’s burial expenses under workers’ compensation or employers’ liability laws.
Use the table below to determine entitlement to VBA burial benefits when the Veteran’s death occurred during private employment.
If the employer is liable or reimbursesfor an amount…
Then …
less than the cost of
  • burial
  • funeral
  • plot-interment, or
  • transportation expenses
pay the burial allowance.
Note:  The burial allowance may be paid to the extent that it does not exceed the difference between the employer’s liability and the total eligible burial benefits payable.
Example:  The Veteran is eligible for the NSC burial allowance.  The employer’s liability is $100.  VA can only pay $200 for the NSC burial allowance.
exceeding the cost of
  • burial
  • funeral
  • plot-interment, or
  • transportation expenses
disallow the claim.
Reference:  For more information on payment of the plot or interment allowance by a Veteran’s employer, see 38 CFR 3.1711.
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