How Social Security Can Pay For Funeral Costs
7/26/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff
Though funeral fees can become extremely costly for the family of the deceased. However, it is possible to use some Social Security to pay for funeral costs. We discuss Social Security death benefits and other ways to help cover funeral service fees, including survivor benefits.
According to the National Funeral Directors Association statistics, the average cost of a funeral in the United States, including a vault, is over $9,000. That figure does not include cemetery fees, the price of a monument, flowers, or an obituary. And while choosing cremation can lower the funeral costs, you can still expect to pay around $6,500 on average.
Paying funeral expenses can be a burden for many families. While families may have no legal responsibility to pay these costs, they often pay them in the absence of enough money in the deceased persons estate.
Many older adults have a life insurance policy in place or have pre-paid their funeral costs, relieving their heirs of the financial burden. And many estates are substantial enough to pay for any final expenses quickly.
While there might be funeral assistance from state and local governments, anyone looking to Social Security to pay for funeral costs will likely be quite disappointed.
How Can I Pay For A Funeral With No Money
How to Pay for a Funeral with No MoneyDirect Cremation. Also known as simple or low-cost cremation, a direct cremation occurs when the body is cremated immediately after death without a funeral service. Direct Burial. Home Funeral. Body Donation. Burial Insurance. Pre-Need Plan. Life Insurance. Crowdfunding.More itemsApr 9, 2019
How Do You Cancel Medicare When Someone Dies
Because Medicare and Social Security are connected, both government programs can be alerted with a single call to the Social Security Administration. A representative at the funeral home may also be able to handle this process for you. Whoever calls will need to know the deceaseds Social Security Number to make the request.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA gives burial assistance to victims when a President declares a disaster area. Victims eligible for benefits are those who have died as a direct or indirect result of a disaster.
A direct result would be drowning in a flood. An indirect result would be the exacerbation of a pre-existing condition such as a man with high blood pressure having a heart attack during an earthquake.
In order to receive assistance, you must provide proof that other forms of aid have proven insufficient to meet your needs.
Heres a list of what FEMAs burial assistance may cover:
- Cost of casket or urn
- Mortuary Services
- Up to five death certificates
- Burial plot or cremation niche
Ways To Help Cover The Cost Of Your Funeral
We have six ways to help you cover your final bill. We think some are better than others, but each one has its benefits, and depending on our circumstances, it could be the right fit for you.
Most funeral homes want to be paid upfront, so leaving arrangements through your will isnât ideal. Your family will have to pay for the expenses and wait for probate to reimburse them, which could take months or even years, depending on the circumstance and legalities.
Your final wishes will be carried out by those you love. Choosing the right beneficiary is important for you and all your loved ones.
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Hart Island Memorandum Of Understanding
Since 1869, Hart Island has been used as a site for public burials and is the final resting place for more than a million souls. In 2019, the New York City Council determined that HRA’s Office of Burial Services will be responsible for facilitating public burials on the island, transferring responsibility solely for the burials to the Department of Social Services. Currently, administrative and operational functions on Hart Island are still managed by the New York City Department of Correction. Please visit DOC’s Hart Island page for more information on visiting the island and finding a loved one. Please continue to check this page of updated information.
Is There A Death Benefit From Medicare
Now, the portion of long-term benefits that a surviving spouse or children will get depends on the amount the deceased paid into Social Security. Further, the benefit amount depends on the survivors age and Social Security eligibility.
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Government Organizations That Provide Funeral Aide
The Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, has outlined Funeral Rules that support and protect those who are seeking services at funeral homes.
The rules set fourth what services funeral homes can offer and how much they can charge.
The rules give people and their loved ones the right to:
- Buy only the funeral arrangements you want in order to avoid package deals that come with items you do not want. Individuals will be able to pick and choose separate goods and services outside of a package.
- Receive accurate pricing over the telephone. Funeral directors have to be upfront about pricing if asked. Funeral homes can also mail price lists and post their prices online, although this is not a requirement.
- Receive a written itemized list of services when you visit the funeral home.
- See a casket price list before you see the caskets. This ensures you can inquire about lower-priced caskets before viewing the more expensive caskets on display. Also, consider buying your own casket directly from a supplier online to save even more, I recommend Titancaskets.com.
- See a written list of burial containers. Similar to the casket rule, people must be allowed to see a list of outer burial containers itemized by price. This gives the buyer the option to see everything the home has to offer.
- Receive a statement after you have decided everything you want. This allows the buyer to understand exactly the costs they will be expected to pay.
Help With Funeral Costs For A Parent
Losing a parent is hard enough without worrying about how you are going to pay for a funeral service. Though it may be tough to talk about, talking to your parent can help you know where to look for help once they are gone. Ask them to clearly lay out their final wishes and to include any sources of payment. If you know about their military history, union memberships, overall financial situation and savings, and life or funeral insurance policies in advance, it will be easier to use those resources when you need them.
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How Soon After Death Does Social Security Stop
What you may not know is that SSA cannot pay benefits for the month of death. So for anyone receiving Social Security benefits, the benefit received for the month of death and any following months must be returned to SSA. For example, when a person dies in January, no benefit payment is due in February or beyond.
Does Medicare Cover Cremation Costs
Cremation is rising fast in popularity, leading many people to ask, will Medicare cover cremation costs in the event of a Medicare beneficiarys death?
Unfortunately, the answer is the same. Medicares focus is inpatient and outpatient medical expenses for medically necessary services (while the Medicare beneficiary is living.
Since cremation costs are not considered medical expenses, Medicare does NOT cover them.
To see a complete list of the services and expenses covered by Medicare, see this resource from the official website of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services .
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Military Burial Benefits For Veterans
The amount of funeral assistance offered by the United States Department of Veteran Affairs depends on whether the death was service related or non-service related.
The VA pays up to $2,000 in burial assistance for a service-related death, and up to $780 for a non-service-related death. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act may provide military spouse benefits as well. Spouses could be entitled to a death gratuity if the death was a result of service.
A service-related death is a death related to a disability acquired from service in the military. An example would be dying of cancer caused by exposure to Agent Orange.
The VA offers more benefits for veterans buried in a national cemetery. Theyll pay for the opening and closing of the grave, which cost an average of $1,240.
Theyll also provide a gravestone, and burial flag. Gravestones can range anywhere from as low as $300 for a flat marker to over $10,000 for an upright headstone, though you can get a basic upright headstone for around $1,000.
If you choose to have a private funeral, the VA also offers a $780 plot-internment allowance.
However, there are stipulations to remember. If you were reimbursed by some other source for the cost of the funeral, like the veterans employer, you will not be eligible.
Also, any veteran who was dishonorably discharged is ineligible to receive funeral benefits.
Help With Funeral Costs For A Child Or Baby
Non-profit organizations like Childrens Burial Assistance, Inc. help families afford the burial of a deceased, minor child between the ages of one and 17 years. Families with no life insurance and a lack of savings are eligible to apply for help.
CBA provides donated burial plots, funds for fees associated with opening and closing graves, and cremation services. The organization can also connect families with low- and at-cost funeral service providers. Funds go to funeral homes directly.
Recommended Reading: Www.ssa.gov/changeaddress.html
Does The Va Cover Burial Costs
The Department of Veterans Affairs is a U.S. Government agency that handles programs benefiting veterans and their family members.
It offers education opportunities, rehabilitation services, home loan guarantees, pensions, and health care (including nursing homes, clinics, and medical centers.
Thankfully, there is good news on this front:
The VA provides a generous burial allowance to those elgible, covering burial, funeral, and transportation costs!
The eligibility criteria are detailed, so instead of describing them here, well refer you to the official Veterans Burial Allowance page.
What Can Be Covered
OBS can pay up to a maximum amount of $1,700 under the current emergency rule towards the cost of a funeral bill for a decedent’s final disposition to the decedent’s relative, friend, Organizational Friend or authorized representative.
In the event, the funeral bill exceeds the current $3,400 cap under the emergency rule, the cost of the burial plot, grave opening or cremation will be deducted from the total bill and where the remaining bill amount is less than the above cap a burial allowance will be approved.
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Military & Veteran Assistance
To help with funeral costs, all military veterans are entitled to a free burial in a national cemetery and a grave marker. Spouses and dependent children of veterans are also entitled to a plot and marker in a national cemetery.
For veterans, there are typically no costs for opening and closing the grave, for a vault liner, or for setting the grave marker. The family is usually responsible for other funeral costs such as transportation.
Many states have established veteran cemeteries, but some commercial cemeteries offer discounts for veterans. These cemeteries sometimes offer a free plot for the veteran, but sometimes charge high fees to open and close the grave. Its important to evaluate all of your options before choosing a commercial cemetery.
For non-service-related deaths, the US Department of Veterans Affairs will pay as much as $780 in burial expenses. To receive this amount, the deceased must have been hospitalized by the VA at the time of death. Without VA hospitalization, the VA will pay $300 toward expenses. If you do not plan to bury your loved one in a national cemetery, you could receive an additional $780 plot-interment allowance.
For service-related deaths, the VA will pay up to $2,000 toward burial expenses. For veterans buried in a VA national cemetery, the agency may also pay you back for your transportation costs. To receive reimbursement, you must meet the following requirements:
For more information, read our funeral planning guide for veterans.
Defray Funeral Costs With State National And Local Aid
You may be wary about crowdfunding to cover funeral costs. You might worry about putting undue pressure on your friends to contribute or even feel embarrassed that you cant afford a funeral on your own. If youre in that boat, learn more about what charities and nonprofit organizations can offer.
You can also see if youre eligible for state, local, or federal aid. Even if you cant get the funeral completely covered, you can often get discounts or receive small portions of money to offset costs. Hopefully, help like this can send your loved one off the way he or she deserves.
Post-planning tip: If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, you have more than just the funeral to think about. Handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one’s family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.
State And Local Programs
Federal funeral assistance programs are limited in scope but there are some statewide programs that can also help.
Just keep in mind that they often cant overlap, and federal assistance will usually supplant statewide aid. Here are some resources for state and local funeral assistance.
Medicaid burial benefits
Medicaid does not pay out directly for funeral services, cremation, or burials. However, they do offer recipients the chance to set aside some of the money from their Medicaid payments to save up for funeral expenses down the line.
If your loved one collected Medicaid, its worth contacting them to see if there are any funds in place. This all varies from state to state, so be sure to contact the Medicaid helpline for your state directly for more complete information.
County or local help
If the family of the deceased cannot afford a burial, there may be some low-cost or free programs in place. Contact the coroners office and explain your financial situation. The state or local government may cover the cost of a cremation or a no-frills burial.
The downsides to this are that you may not receive your loved ones ashes, or your loved one may end up in an unmarked paupers grave. This option should be saved for the truly indigent.
Burial assistance programs
Many states offer programs for burial assistance. They have multiple levels of assistance they can provide, typically dependent on a familys financial status.
Tribal burial assistance programs
Applying For Social Security Death Benefits
Though its difficult to get Social Security to pay for funeral costs, there are Social Security funeral benefits. If you must apply for the one-time Social Security funeral benefit, you must fill out the Social Security Administrations form SSA-8, available from the local SSA office, or by calling 772-1213. First, gather the following documents:
- Proof of birth, such as an original birth certificate
- Proof of citizenship
- Military discharge papers
- Current W-2 forms
- A verified copy of the death certificate
If you are the claimant, you might be asked to answer a few questions to confirm your eligibility. Be ready to provide your name, address, relationship to the deceased. Also, keep in mind that if you are the next of kin of a Social Security recipient who has died, you may not cash their last benefit check but must return it in full to the SSA.
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Discuss Your Plans With Them
When purchasing life insurance for parents, discuss the policy with them, including coverage amounts and who will pay the premiums. Explain that you are protecting your familys financial future by making sure you can pay for their final arrangements when the time comes. Once youve decided on how much coverage to take out and which insurance company to use, you can move on to the next step.
Why Do Funerals Cost So Much
The average funeral costs around $10,000. If you donât want to burden your family with this expense itâs necessary to have a plan.
Unless youâve planned a funeral, you probably arenât sure what the costs include. Hereâs a breakdown of funeral expenses with a brief explanation of each.
1. Funeral home
- Use of the funeral home for viewing and ceremony: $595-$915
- A âbasic servicesâ fee: $1,800-$2,000
2. Removal and transfer of remains
- Transporting the deceased: $320-$725
3. Embalming and other preparations
- Body embalming: around $695
- Other body preparations: around $250
4. Hearse and car services
- Hearse: $275-$32
6. Casket and burial vault
- Casket liner: $700-$1,000
- Burial vault: $900-$13,000
- Casket: $2,000-$10,000
We always want the best for our loved ones, but elaborate caskets can cost $35,000 or more.
- $1,500-$3,000 if done through a crematory
- $2,000-$4,000 if done through the funeral home
- Floral tributes or wreath: $100 or more
- Casket sprays: more than $700
9. Catering/Food: this is often done through your church or friends, but if not, it can cost several hundred dollars to feed everyone
10. Obituaries: if not included in the funeral home basic fees, it runs $200-$500
11. Gravestone/Grave marker
- Grave markers: $95-$1,000
- Upright stones: $1,000-$10,000
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