The coronavirus pandemic has led to over 112,000 deaths in the United States at the time of this writing. That’s 112,000 families managing the costs associated with burying a loved one. We hope you won’t have to face this. However, the reality is that we are all at risk of losing someone during this pandemic.
Currently, the average cost of a funeral is between $7,000 and $10,000. While life insurance can help cover some of the expenses, not every insurance plan includes burial assistance.
What are your options if you need to pay for a funeral and do not have the funds? Below are resources and tips for locating burial assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.
State and Local Government Assistance
Many states offer financial support to take care of funeral costs. Depending on the state, you can receive up to a couple thousand dollars. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, some states have increased the amount of burial assistance. For example, the New York government raised its burial allowance from $900 to $1,700, and the cap on burial costs from $1,700 to $3,400. They also extended the timeframe for requesting help to 120 days. Therefore, you should check your state and local government websites to explore and seek this support.
Veterans Affairs Burial Assistance
If your loved one was in the military, they are eligible for financial burial assistance from Veterans Affairs (VA). For a non-service related death, the VA will pay up to $796 if the person died at a VA hospital. If they were not at a VA hospital at the time of death, you could receive up to $300. Check the benefits.va.gov website for more details on burial assistance for service members.
Nonprofit and Community Based Organizations
Many nonprofits, charities, and community based organizations provide burial assistance for families. Nonprofits like Final Farewell and The Tears Foundation offer financial support for parents burying children. The latter organization is even offering extra emergency financial assistance to families impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.
There also could be local charities helping with burial costs. Call 211 to get a list of organizations in your area that offer this support. In addition to nonprofits and charities, churches often provide financial support for burials. Reach out to a local place of worship for help, and look at religious organizations like your local Catholic Charities.
Social Security Benefits
You are eligible to receive burial assistance if your loved one was a recipient of, or was eligible to receive, social security benefits. The surviving spouse or child can receive a one-time payment of $225 that can go toward funeral costs. It’s crucial for you to contact the Social Security Administration as soon as possible to set up this support. Also, use this time to discuss any benefits that you and your family may be entitled to.
Support From Funeral Consumer Alliance
While this organization doesn’t offer direct burial support, it does help families save money on burial costs. The Funeral Consumer Alliances’ group of volunteers works with funeral professionals and consumers. They help families locate fair prices for funeral-related expenses. This group can also support families by educating them on reasonable costs and advocating for them during the process. Their goal is to protect and inform those who are facing the loss of a loved one, and take the stress out of funeral planning.
A Funeral Doesn’t Have to Involve the Stress of Expensive Costs
The last thing you and your family should have to worry about during this pandemic is dealing with high funeral expenses. Fortunately, there are many resources that can reduce the cost. If you are not facing this situation, but want to prepare, check into the resources above. Again, it would be ideal if no one has to face this reality, but the COVID-19 outbreak is forcing many of us to deal with matters such as this one.
For more information on end-of-life planning and care, read: Financial Steps to Take When a Parent is Dying.