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How to Get Help with Funeral Expenses

How to Get Help with Funeral Expenses

If you need help with funeral expenses, you’ll be relieved to know that we’ve found many programs that can help. Funerals are always hard but it’s even harder when you know you can’t afford that overwhelming and often unexpected cost. Fortunately, we’ve found help.

Nationwide Help with Funeral Expenses

There are some nationwide programs that can assist with funeral expenses. However, the best and most accessible programs are those listed in the specialized and state-by-state directories below.

COVID-19 Funeral Reimbursement Program

During the period of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, the United States government instituted a COVID-19 funeral expense program that can help defray costs of deaths due to COVID-19. Here’s what we know about the COVID-19 funeral reimbursement program.

FEMA

If your loved one died during a natural disaster, you may be able to receive burial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These funds are typically available for people who died as a direct result of the disaster or as an indirect result. The assistance typically includes a burial plot, marker or headstone, and a casket or urn.

Funeral Consumers Alliance

The FCA is the only national consumer organization that monitors the funeral industry. In addition to monitoring and advocating for reform, this agency also helps consumers find low-cost funeral options in their area.

This organization does not provide financial assistance directly but they can help you understand your rights and find affordable funeral options. They can help you find the most affordable funeral option in your area, which can help you make the most of the financial assistance you can receive from other sources in this article.

Use their website to find your local FCA group for assistance.

Social Security

Social Security typically pays a one-time death settlement of $255 to the spouse or child of the deceased. This can offset some costs but will not cover the full price of the funeral.

For more information on the lump sum death benefit, visit the SSA website.

Specialized Help with Funeral Expenses

There are some organizations that serve people with a certain military affiliation, diagnosis or other criteria. These programs have specific eligibility criteria.

Army Emergency Relief

Soldiers and their families may be able to receive rent relief from Army Emergency Relief (AER). This program provides zero-interest loans and grants to those who need assistance. They can help with rent, security deposits, food, vehicle costs, utilities, funeral expenses, basic furniture, appliance costs, child care seats, dental care, home repair, clothing, and so much more.

CORE: Children of Restaurant Employees

CORE supports restaurant employees who are supporting children. Restaurant employees include people who work in hotel food service, concessions, cafeterias and dining halls, catering, fine dining, casual dining, fast casual dining, quick service and food trucks.

This organization provides financial grants that can assist with funeral expenses, including travel to out-of-town funerals. In order to qualify, you must have had a qualifying event which includes a significant medical diagnosis, injury, or death of an immediate family member. Details here.

Department of Veterans Affairs

The VA provides burial assistance for eligible veterans. The amount of assistance provided depends on the circumstances of the death and the status of the veteran who died.

The current burial benefit for a non-service-connected death is $300. If the veteran was hospitalized by the VA at the time of death, the allowance is $796. The VA will pay up to $2,000 for a death that is connected to military service. If the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery, the VA may also help cover some (or all) of the costs of transporting the body.

You can get the details on how the VA handles funeral expense reimbursement on the VA website.

Navy-Marine Corp Relief Society

This organization exclusively serves members of the Naval Services of the United States, as well as their eligible family members and survivors. If you qualify for assistance from this organization, they may be able to assist you with rent and mortgage payments, security deposits, utility deposits, car repairs and insurance deductibles, medical expenses, funeral expenses and more.

Pinetop Assistance League for Elder Musicians

Musicians who are at least 50 years old,, have played professionally on stage, has played on professional albums and CDs, and have a household income of $30,000 or less may be able to receive assistance from Pinetop. They can assist with rent, utilities, medical expenses, transportation and even burial costs.

Victim Burial Assistance

If your loved one was the victim of a crime that led to their death, you may be able to get burial assistance from a crime victim compensation program. There are many different programs that provide this assistance, and the police should be able to connect you with those resources.

Help with Funeral Expenses for Children

Some organizations only provide assistance for children’s funerals. These organizations cannot assist you if your loved one is age 18 or older.

Children’s Burial Assistance

Children’s Burial Assistance provides donated burial plots and urns throughout the US to families who have lost a child under age 18.

They can also provide information and referrals to other agencies that can help. In order to receive any assistance from this organization, you will need to apply on their website directly.

Final Farewell

Final Farewell is an organization that offers financial assistance and guidance to grieving low income families who have lost a child (or children) under the age of 18. Most of their giving is centered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but their website states that they have helped people throughout the United States.

Start your application by filling out the form on their website, but remember they only provide financial assistance to families who have lost a child under age 18.

The Tears Foundation

The TEARS Foundation provides financial assistance to low income families who have lost a child. They offer several assistance programs, depending on your circumstances. You can browse a full list of their assistance programs and criteria on their website.

Local Help with Funeral Expenses

Of course, there are many local resources that can help as well. The following resources are organized alphabetically by state for your convenience.

Alabama

Alabama state law requires that all counties must cover the cost of unclaimed or indigent body burials. Indigent just meets poor or low income. If you can’t afford the funeral costs for your loved one in Alabama, the county is legally required to provide a basic funeral.

In Mobile County, the decedent’s family or immediate relative must file an Application for Indigent Burial. The county will verify the information in the application and then make arrangements with a local funeral home or mortuary.

You must contact the county where your loved one died. In most cases, the body will be cremated because it’s cheaper. If you have religious objections to this, it may be possible to receive a burial instead. There are other rules and qualifications, but you’ll need to contact your local county for details.

Alaska

General Relief Assistance provides a one-time payment of up to $120 for emergency shelter, utility, food, clothing or burial costs. This program is administered by the Division of Public Assistance and you must submit a written application to the office. You can deliver your application via drop-off, email, fax or regular mail.

Arizona

United Tissue Network

If you would like to donate the body to science, United Tissue Network can help. They provide a cost-free end of life option that includes a free cremation. This organization is accredited through The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) and is a nonprofit.

United Tissue Network will remove your body from your place of passing, transport it to a facility, send two certified death certificates to your family and handle direct cremation. When the process is complete, they’ll cover the cost of cremation and send the cremains to your family.

Arkansas

If you need assistance with funeral expenses, contact your county judge! In Arkansas, county judges are able to access a “Pauper’s Fund” for indigent burials. Indigent just means that you’re low income.

You can find the contact information for your local Arkansas county judge here.

Colorado

If you need help with funeral expenses in Colorado, be sure to check your local county! The Burial Assistance Program can provide up to $1,500 in burial benefits toward eligible services. The program does not provide reimbursements, so you need to arrange for assistance before you pay.

There are specific rules governing this program. For example, the total cost of services cannot exceed $2,500. That’s not a lot, so I recommend contacting the Funeral Consumer Alliance (see above) for assistance finding low-cost arrangements in your area.

To receive assistance from the Burial Assistance Program, contact your local county department of human or social services for assistance.

Connecticut

In some cases, the Connecticut Department of Health and Human Services may pay up to $1,350 toward eligible funerals for people who are indigent (low income) and/or who receive SAGA, TFA, or State Supplement benefits.

The state does not provide reimbursement, so it will not pay you back if you’ve already paid for the service. You need to apply right away so that the state can pay the funeral directory, cemetery or crematory directly.

Delaware

If you need help with funeral expenses in Delaware, try the state’s department of Social Services. CNBC has reported that Delaware will pay for a “burial in full” for low income residents who cannot afford it. This program apparently includes embalming, vaults and caskets.

Florida

Florida is required by law to provide burial services for any unclaimed or low income people who have died. This service is provided at the county level, so you will need to apply directly with the county where the deceased person lived.

United Tissue Network

If you would like to donate the body to science, United Tissue Network can help. They provide a cost-free end of life option that includes a free cremation. This organization is accredited through The American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB) and is a nonprofit.

United Tissue Network will remove your body from your place of passing, transport it to a facility, send two certified death certificates to your family and handle direct cremation. When the process is complete, they’ll cover the cost of cremation and send the cremains to your family.

Georgia

Some Georgia counties may provide up to $1,200 in funeral assistance for low income residents who have died. You will need to inquire with the county.

Hawaii

The State of Hawaii may provide up to $400 toward the funeral expenses of eligible low income people who died. The payments are limited to those who received financial or medical assistance in the state of Hawaii at the time of their death.

Idaho

Idaho does not provide any state-wide assistance but some counties may provide help with funeral expenses through County Indigent Services. You will need to inquire with your local county for details.

Illinois

Illinois Department of Human Services may provide help with funeral expenses for certain eligible people who have died. The assistance is capped at $1,370 for a funeral and $686 for a cremation or burial. In order to receive assistance, the person who died must have been receiving OR have been eligible for certain programs.

The person who died will be eligible if they received:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Cash
  • Aid to the Aged, Blind or Disabled (AABD) Cash
  • All Kids Assist
  • Parent / All Kids Assist
  • All Kids moms & Babies
  • Family Assist
  • AABD Medical
  • General Assistance Foster Care or Adoption Care

If the person was not receiving any of those benefits, they may still be eligible for help with funeral expenses if they met the eligibility requirements for:

  • All Kids Assist
  • Parent / All Kids Assist
  • All Kids Moms & Babies
  • Family Assist
  • AABD Medical

Indiana

The Burial Assistance Program in Indiana is very limited. It only provides help with funeral expenses to those who were eligible for specific categories of Medicaid.

However, according to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, low income residents of Indiana may be able to receive additional funeral expense assistance through their local township trustees.

Iowa

Waypoint has a Survivors Program that supports people who have lost loved ones to homicide or vehicular homicide. They provide many forms of assistance, including support groups, death notifications, assistance with funeral arrangements and assistance with finding financial assistance for victims or family members, such as food gift cards, gas cards and hotel expenses. They will even act as a media liaison and support through trials.

Kentucky

Some Kentucky counties offer help with funeral expenses. However, this program varies widely between counties. You’ll need to contact your local county coroner or funeral director for more information about these programs.

Maine

General Assistance from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services can help with rent, mortgage payments, fuel, utilities, medical, dental, prescriptions, burial costs and household or personal supplies (such as toiletries). You may be eligible for this assistance fund if you are unable to afford your own basic needs. You will need to apply in person at your local municipal office.

Maryland

The Burial Assistance Program by the Maryland Department of Human Services can provide some help with funeral expenses. This program is limited to low income people who cannot afford funeral costs. The money is paid directly to the funeral director.

In order to be eligible for this assistance, the person who died must have been receiving benefits OR met the eligibility requirements to receive benefits from one of these programs:

  • Foster Care
  • Public Assistance to Adults (PAA)
  • Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA)
  • Temporary Disability Assistance Program (TDAP)
  • Medical Assistance (MA)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Newborn children who were not receiving TCA may also be eligible.

Massachussetts

The Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance can provide up to $1,100 in help with funeral expenses for eligible Massachusetts residents who have died. There are many rules and regulations that surround this program, so it’s important to know all the guidelines.

Michigan

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services administers a Burial Services program for low income people who cannot afford it. Their payment schedule and details can be found on their website.

Minnesota

Minnesota has some county-level programs that can help with funeral expenses, depending on where you live. The programs vary widely between counties, so you’ll need to check with your local county for funding and requirements.

Nebraska

Nebraska law requires every county to operate a General Assistance fund to help people who cannot afford critical expenses like rent. These funds may also be able to assist with cremation or burial costs. You will need to inquire with your local county office for details.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire state law requires every town and city in the state to offer a welfare program to those who need help. As such, every town and county has a welfare office that can assist with basic needs like rent, mortgage payments, utilities, food, clothing, transportation and prescriptions. The office may be able to help with basic telephone service and even consumable items like diapers, paper products and household supplies. I would expect that they may be able to help with funeral expenses as well.

New Jersey

According to the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association, there are some circumstances that may cause the state to provide help with funeral expenses for low income people who have died. The funds are managed through the Department of Human Services and provided by the county where the person lived when they died. You’ll need to contact the county for details.

New Mexico

According to state law, New Mexico may provide up to $200 in help with funeral expenses for low income people. In order to be eligible, the legally responsible relatives (usually a spouse, or parents of deceased minor children) must meet certain income requirements.

Children’s Cancer Fund of New Mexico (Statewide)

New Mexico families with a child who has been diagnosed with cancer may be able to receive gas vouchers to cover the cost of transportation to and from medical appointments. CCFNM may also be able to assist with food vouchers, scholarship assistance, counseling, social activities, support groups, funeral assistance, tutoring programs, and prizes to help minimize the trauma of difficult procedures.

New York

New York provides help with funeral expenses at the county level. In New York City, the assistance is managed at the borough level. You can find a brochure for NYC’s funeral assistance on their website.

North Dakota

North Dakota counties have a General Assistance Program (GAP) that can be used to help low income residents in emergency situations. If you need help with funeral expenses in North Dakota, this fund may be able to help.

Ohio

State law requires counties to provide basic funeral assistance when the person who died is low income and nobody can help cover those expenses. The assistance is managed at the county level, but usually the person who died must have had an income that is at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.

Oklahoma

Delaware Nation

Enrolled Delaware Nation tribal citizens and any minors eligible to be enrolled may be able to receive up to $6,500 to help with funeral expenses. It does not matter where the eligible tribal member lives in the United States; this service is available nationwide.

The financial assistance must be used to cover burial expenses, markers or monuments for the deceased. An additional $250 may be provided for a family dinner as well.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services may provide help with funeral expenses for eligible low income people. the payment will be made directly to the funeral director.

In order to be eligible, the person who died must meet one of the following requirements:

  • They must have received Supplemental Security Income (SSI); OR
  • They must have received cash benefits from the Department of Human Services prior to death; OR
  • They must have been eligible for cash assistance prior to death

You must reach out ot the local county assistance office for assistance.

Final Farewell

Final Farewell is an organization that provides financial advice and assistance to low income families throughout the United States. About 90% of their giving is focused on the greater Philadelphia area, though.

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Department of Human Services may offer up to $900 in help with funeral expenses to eligible people. These funds are offered through the General Public Assistance program. The person who died must meet income guidelines, and an application must be completed in a timely manner.

South Dakota

Each county in South Dakota has a Welfare Office, which can provide emergency assistance with rent, utilities, medical needs, hospitalizations and burial expenses. These are supposed to be last-resort resources and a lien may be placed upon you if you have to use them, so be sure to exhaust all other options first.

Pennington County Health & Human Services (Rapid City)

The County office provides economic assistance to those who qualify, including SD rent assistance. They can also assist with transportation, utilities and utility deposits, funeral expenses and medical assistance.

Vermont

Vermont offers an Emergency / General Assistance fund that can help with funeral expenses, as well as housing, fuel, utilities, medical, dental, prescriptions, personal needs and other incidentals. In order to be eligible, you must be low income and unable to meet your emergency need.

The funds are managed through local district offices. Visit their website to find the district office in your area.

West Virginia

The West Virginia Department of Health & Human Services has a Burial Assistance program that can provide up to $1,000 in help with funeral expenses to eligible low income children and adults. Please contact the agency or your local funeral director for details.

Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Funeral and Cemetery Aids Program (WFCAP) provides help with funeral expenses that the deceased person’s family cannot afford. The program can pay up to $1,500 for funeral expenses and/or $1,000 toward unmet cemetery or crematory expenses.

In order to be eligible, the deceased person must have been enrolled in one of the following programs OR eligible for Medicaid at the time of their death.

  • BadgerCare Plus
  • Wisconsin Works
  • Medicaid for Elderly Blind or Disabled (EBD)
  • Medicaid Home and Community-Based Waiver
  • Family Care
  • Tuberculosis-related Medical
  • Katie Beckett Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income in Wisconsin
  • Supplemental Security Income

Wyoming

WyoHELP (Statewide)

WyoHELP offers Wyoming rent assistance, as well as many other incredible supportive services. According to their website, they can also help with auto repair services, tire purchases, oil changes, vehicle registration and insurance, health care expenses, dental services, funeral payments and more!

Nicole leads the Low Income Relief team with over 20 years of professional research and writing experience. Nicole started Low Income Relief after a personal experience with poverty. When her husband was medically discharged from the US Army, their family experienced tremendous financial hardship. Nicole was able to gather help from multiple community agencies and move into a nearby low income housing unit in just two weeks! Since then, Nicole has been dedicated to helping low income families in crisis. She regularly spends hundreds of hours combing through countless resources to make sure that Low Income Relief has the most comprehensive and complete resource directories on the internet today. Prior to starting Low Income Relief, Nicole worked as a novelist, journalist, ghostwriter and content creator. Her work has been featured in various print and online publications, including USA Today, eHow, Livestrong, Legal Beagle, The Daily Herald, The Chronicle and more.