The cost of a funeral is probably the last thing you’ll want to think about when someone you love falls seriously ill, has a life-threatening illness, or is entering end-of-life. Hopefully, an insurance policy is in place, or you have the resources to pay for funeral costs.
However, only some families can do so. On the low end, the cost of burial or cremation can be several thousand dollars. A funeral, viewing, and burial typically average around $7,800. Cremation at a funeral home can cost between $2,000 and $4,000. Direct cremation through a crematorium can cost between $1,500 and $3,000.
These expenses can place a financial strain on families at a time when they can least afford it. However, some resources are available to provide burial assistance for low-income patients and burial assistance for the uninsured.
Burial Assistance for Low-Income and Uninsured
Here are some of the programs that provide assistance with the cost of a funeral, burial, or cremation for low-income and uninsured individuals:
- Social Security Administration: The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides a lump sum death benefit for those who qualify for $255 to surviving spouses or families to help offset the costs. These benefits are available regardless of income.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs: For eligible veterans of military service, the Veterans Administration (VA) pays up to $796 for funeral services if someone dies after being hospitalized by the VA or $300 towards expenses and a $300 plot-internment allowance for others.
- Medicaid: Medicaid is a state and federal program for low-income individuals and may offer burial assistance for the uninsured or low-income individuals. While Medicaid is a federal program, it is managed at the state level, so benefits can vary. Medicaid does not pay out directly, but Medicaid recipients can set aside some of their payments to save up for funeral expenses, so it is worth checking.
- State and local programs: Most states do not provide burial assistance for low-income patients, but local counties and cities sometimes do provide assistance. Applications generally must be made at the county level, and amounts can vary. The local coroner’s office may be able to direct you.
- Indigent Burial Programs: Some local governments have indigent burial programs specifically for those who cannot afford burial or cremation expenses.
- Religious organizations and nonprofits: There are religious organizations and local nonprofits that may be able to help offset burial or cremation costs. You can call the 211 hotlines in most states to ask about essential community services. Operators may be able to provide information about local organizations that help with funeral costs.
Programs for Crime Victims
Some states have set aside funds for victims of crime resulting in death. If your loved one is a crime victim, talk to the local police about whether they know about a crime victim compensation fund. There is also additional information about the state crime funds victim compensation programs on the government’s Benefits.gov website for low-income or uninsured individuals.
Consider Donating the Body to Science
Another option for families of low-income or uninsured individuals is to donate the body to science. Not only can this aid in medical research, training, and education for medical professionals, but it can also help eliminate the cost of burial or cremation.
This is different from organ donation. Organ donations enable doctors to use organs for transplants to help save the lives of others. Whole-body donation uses human tissue for medical science.
United Tissue Network (UTN) is a non-profit organization that accepts whole-body donations in Arizona and Florida. When you donate a body, UTN handles all of the costs associated with collecting and transporting the body and placing it with qualified research, educational, and medical institutions. This eliminates 100% of the expenses for family members, including cremation of the remains. UTN also provides two certified death certificates to the family at no cost.
When donating a body to science, you do more than eliminate burial or cremation costs. Medical professionals will use human tissue for research and training, so you can feel better about a loved one’s passing, knowing that they are contributing to advancing science and medical research.
If you have questions about your options or how to go about donating a body to science, contact United Tissue Networks online or by calling 1-877-738-6111.