Funeral Assistance For Low-Income Families

Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by Lori Pace

Some grants can help low-income families pay for the funeral and burials. This article will outline the different funeral assistance available to low-income families.

Federal help for Funeral Assistance

When there is a death in the family, the loss can leave those left behind feeling heartbroken. On top of this, the family members left behind need to make some decisions fast.

These decisions will involve burial and funeral services. Each year, thousands of families struggle with expensive funeral costs. Sometimes, families will end up paying for services and goods they don’t need.

Luckily, laws such as the Funeral Rule protect grieving families. You might be eligible for help paying for a funeral from the federal government. In this case, the government can pay $255 when a loved one passes away.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

For low-income families that have lost loved ones after a natural disaster, there is (FEMA). This agency will be able to provide funeral assistance for immediate family members. The natural disaster will need to be the cause of death to be eligible for FEMA.

FEMA can cover products such as:

  • Burial plot or cremation niche
  • A casket or an urn
  • Cremation or interment
  • Cost of reinterment
  • A headstone or marker in a private burial site or a public cemetery
  • Mortuary services
  • At most, five death certificates
  • Transporting the decease and/or at most of two relatives to identify the decedent.

To get any help from FEMA for your funeral costs, you will need to provide the following:

  • Confirmation that other grants or organizations didn’t pay for the  funeral costs 
  • Death certificate
  • Proof that you’re responsible for the funeral expenses
  • Proof of any outstanding funeral costs (for example, a receipt)
  • Documents from the authorities showing the emergency or disaster caused the death
Condolences, Trauerkarte, Letter, Envelope, To Die

Medicare And Medicaid

Both of these programs don’t provide any funeral help. But with programs, you might be able to put aside money for yourself and your spouse. In some cases, you might be able to put aside $1500 for both you and your spouse.

Sometimes, you can put aside money with a private insurance company. You can deposit your money into a medical savings account (MSA). You can make sure your beneficiary will get the money you put aside.

For any funds to be tax-free, you will need to get an eligible funeral trust. You can consult an attorney or a tax preparer to assist you set up a tax-free account. You should check these accounts and paperwork when a family member passes away.

Military and Veteran Services

Military veterans could get a free burial in a national cemetery and grave marker. Children and spouses of veterans might also qualify for a plot and headstone.

There aren’t any costs for a vault liner, setting a grave marker, or opening and closing the grave in typical situations. But the family will have to take care of other funeral costs.

Many states have veteran cemeteries. There are also discounts for veteran burials in commercial cemeteries. In some cases, commercial cemeteries will have a free plot for veterans. But, there will have expensive fees for opening and closing the grave.

In some cases, the cause of death won’t be because of their service. In this case, the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will pay the largest amount of $780 for burial.

To be eligible for this funeral assistance, the deceased must have been by the VA when they died. Without this, the department will only pay $300 for burial. You could receive an extra $780 if your loved one isn’t buried in a national cemetery.

But, in service-related deaths, you could get up to $2000 for burial costs. For burials in a VA national cemetery, you could get back the money you paid for transport.

You wouldn’t be eligible for burial benefits if your loved one passes away while still serving in the military. The VA also won’t pay for burial benefits if they were members of Congress and passed away while holding office. This rule also applies to federal prisoners.

Social Security

A parent or spouse could be eligible for a single benefit of $255 as a death benefit. They can also be eligible if they receive Social Security benefits.

A funeral home will tell the Social Security Administration (SSA) when your loved one dies. There might be other benefits for which you could qualify. You will need to contact or visit your local SSA office.

Funeral Assistance for a baby’s or child’s Burial

There are non-profit organizations that can help families with the burial of children. They will pay for the burial for children up to the age of 17. The Children’s Burial Assistance, Inc. (CBA) helps families that don’t have savings or life insurance to help with the burial.

The organization will also be able to help by donating burial plots. They also pay for costs related to opening and closing graves. It can also find inexpensive funeral service providers for grieving families.

Funeral Assistance from Religious or Non-profit Organizations

Some organizations help with funeral and burial costs for families with a relative who passed away and doesn’t have insurance.

Consumer Advocate Organizations

There are non-profit organizations that help members to save money for funerals. A representative will help a family find affordable services and make arrangements.

Religious organizations

In the US, houses of worship and churches will help families in their congregations to pay for burial. The benevolence fund from these houses of worship can pay for the costs involved with a funeral.

Affordable or Free Alternatives for Funeral Assistance

There are plenty of options for families who can’t afford to spend thousands on a funeral or burial in the US. Using these options can decrease your out-of-pocket expenses while still paying your respects.

Body donation

You might be able to donate your loved one’s body. You can donate your body to medical research and education at a private organization. To donate, the body will need to meet its criteria for a donation.

Donating a body is more affordable, and sometimes it’s free. There’s also the added benefit of giving back to society and having a positive impact. Make sure that the organization is a member of the American Association of Tissue Banks (AATB).

Burial on a family plot

In the states, you can bury your deceased loved one on your family’s land. You should ensure you follow the health regulations and zoning laws.

Direct cremation

Direct cremation is one of the more affordable alternatives to traditional burials and cremations. With this option, the body is cremated and straightaway sent to the family. There’s no extra cost for a service. But you can host a service of your own.

DIY memorial or funeral service

You also have the option of hosting your service. So, you can have your neighbours, friends, and family members together. Or, you can host the service in your home, community centre, or church. 

To provide food, you can host a potluck-style service or memorial service. Everyone attending will bring a meal or dish to the service. This option will be more affordable than using a funeral home.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!