If you are faced with the task and responsibility of arranging a funeral for a family member who has just died, and you are concerned about how you can afford the cost of the funeral, this guide can hopefully support you.
With 76% of Americans coping paycheck to paycheck (CNN) and 25% below the poverty line, there are families who find themselves in the unfortunate position of having either no funds, or very limited means, by which to pay for a funeral. Especially if the death of a family member was unexpected and sudden.
Low cost funeral alternatives
If you find yourself responsible for making funeral arrangements with no life insurance or burial insurance policy to help cover the costs, and you have little means to pay for a funeral, then you need to seek out the lowest cost funeral option.
Cremation is certainly a lot cheaper than a burial, and direct cremation (otherwise referred to as an immediate cremation or basic cremation) is the least expensive disposition method. This is where the cremation is conducted with no viewing, services or ceremony and the cremated remains are immediately returned to the family. A simple cardboard cremation container is used, and the ashes are returned in a temporary container, unless a cremation urn is selected.
You can arrange a direct cremation service in many areas of the United States for under $1,000, in fact in many metro areas the price can be as low as $500 – $700. Check out your nearest DFS Memorials provider to find out the lowest direct cremation cost near you.
Public Aid Funerals: Indigent Burial Assistance
Whilst some states do provide some financial support with funeral expenses for families on low income, disability or SSI, this is NOT consistent across all states. Budgets for public aid funerals have also unfortunately been cut back by municipalities where budget spend requiring constraining. To find out if there is any financial support in your area, you would need to inquire with your local county human services or social services department. I have noted below the states that DO offer some financial support and the links to further information.
The state is, of course, obligated to attend to indigent dispositions. That is generally for those unfortunates who become the responsibility of the state and/or institutionalized. Traditionally the state would arrange simple pauper burials in a designated area of a municipal cemetery. Today these indigent burial assistance programs tend to offer direct cremation as a low cost solution to dispose of these unclaimed dead.
Social Security Death Benefits
There is a $255 lump sum Social Security death benefit that those who qualify can claim. A funeral director can generally assist you make a claim. This one-off payment of $255 is made to a surviving spouse or child. Monthly benefits may be available if one meets eligibility requirements. You can contact Social Security on 1-800-772-1213 www.socialsecurity.gov
A veteran is entitled to free burial in a national cemetery. This includes gravesite, opening and closing of the grave and perpetual care for an honorably discharged veteran, spouse, or dependent child and a free headstone or grave marker. Contact the Veteran’s Affairs Office on 1-800-827-1000 for more information.
Crime Victims’ Compensation
In each state there is a fund set up to financially assist the victims of crime to cover funeral expenses.
Contact your local Crime Victim Compensation Program to find out what help you can get.
Whilst we do not advocate that anyone should have to incur a debt to pay for a funeral, this is sadly an option that is being peddled to many families today. Of course, as with any other financing, you have to pass the credit check requirements. There are generally two ways funeral finance is offered – firstly a funeral home may work with a funeral loan company and offer your finance terms, or there are a few finance companies that will work directly with a family to finance a funeral.
Finance for a funeral is NOT easy to come by, largely as it is not an appealing product/service for a finance house to offer credit on. Once a funeral is complete, there is quite a high chance of families defaulting on their loan and it is not that easy to repossess a corpse!
There are some charitable trusts that make offer a grant or some financial help with funeral expenses. You can check this resource for searching a charity grants database.
Trade Union Organizations
Some Trade Union organizations will offer a financial contribution to assist a former member, or the spouse of a member, some assistance with meeting funeral expenses. If you, or you spouse, was a member of a union, it would be well worth investigating if you can claim any assistance.
Fund-raising for a funeral
Fund-raising events to help a family pay for a funeral have long been a community way to rally together and help an unfortunate family pay to bury their lost loved one. However, as more families have suffered hardship in recent years, there has not been as much disposable money to go around, even when families want to help out.
There are now a few online fund-raiser web sites that will allow you to start a fund-raising campaign for a funeral.
Visit 911Funeral to start a fund-raising campaign.
Hopefully the advice we have briefly outlined in this article will provide useful resources to help you find some help paying for a funeral.
State Assistance: Contact departments
CT – Dept of Social Services
DC – Dept of Human Services
MA – The Commonwealth of MA
MD – Dept of Human Resources
ME – ME General Assistance Program
NH – NH Welfare Dept
NJ – Dept of Human Services
NY – Human Resources Dept
PA – Dept of Public Welfare
RI – RI General Public Assistance
VA – Health & Human Services
VT – Agency of Human Services
WV – Dept of Health & Human Resources