Does Medicaid Provide Funeral Assistance?
Many families in many different situations struggle to pay for funeral expenses, so paying for funeral expenses while on Medicaid might seem like an impossible task. While Medicaid does not offer funeral assistance at the federal level, your state might have options available that will greatly decrease the amount of money you’ll need to spend.
Medicaid assistance varies by state
The type of assistance that Medicaid provides depends entirely on the state you reside in. Funeral expense assistance is decided on by each individual state with some states (like New York offering a burial allowance of up to $900 ($1,700 with COVID) while other states (like Arizona) offer no burial assistance. You’ll need to first find out what programs for funeral assistance there are in your state.
Assistance offered at the state level (conditions may apply):
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- Virginia - (Only to those enrolled in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP))
- West Virginia
Assistance offered only at the county level (select counties & conditions may apply):
- Alaska - (Only to tribal families that meet eligibility criteria)
- California - (Also to victims of natural disasters or violent crimes)
- Connecticut - (Only for families covered under Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and Aid to the Aged, Blind, or Disabled (AABD))
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
No assistance offered at the county or state level (you may be able to find assistance with your local coroner or funeral home):
Ask your funeral director
You can go to the funeral home or cremation company you’re working with and ask if there are county or state programs for covering funeral expenses. If your state does offer assistance, your funeral director will likely have the contact information for your specific county. Contact your county administrator first before going to the state level for funeral assistance. Many states have an application process that’s online, so if you’re confused on where to apply ask your funeral director or your county administrator. If you aren't sure how to contact your county administrator, usually going on your county's website or your city's website can help you get in touch.
In all states, you can still set aside funds to cover funeral expenses beforehand by putting money in an irrevocable trust. Irrevocable trusts are essentially an account you can put money in that’s not counted in your assets when determining your Medicaid eligibility. You’ll need to set up this trust separately, but it’s a good idea to do so if you’re planning a funeral and you’d like to protect your funds. This is a great way to still qualify for Medicaid while preparing for inevitable funeral expenses at the same time.
Be sure to compare prices
Avoid making the mistake of going with the first funeral home you speak with and do your research. While it will take a bit more time at the start to get a price list from each funeral home you're interested in working with, it'll be worth it in the long run. Comparing prices between funeral homes ensures you're getting the best deal possible and aren't paying more than you need to.
Only purchase the services you want
Funeral homes can sometimes suggest packages or services to the family that simply aren't necessary (such as embalming). These services can quickly add up in costs and are not services you're required to purchase. Be sure to know what services you are interested in beforehand, ask for an itemized price list of each service offered by the funeral home, and pick only the ones that you absolutely want to avoid paying fees for services you aren't interested in. Even if the funeral home tries to pressure you into purchasing more services than you need, stick to your guns and only purchase the ones you are interested in.
Social Security Death Benefit
If your state doesn’t offer any funeral assistance whatsoever, you’ll want to check if you’re eligible for the Social Security Death Benefit. The Social Security Death Benefit is a $255 one time payment that is issued to the surviving spouse, or an eligible child of the deceased. While $255 isn’t a massive amount of money, it’s still helpful in paying down the unexpected costs of a funeral.
Save on costs by buying online
Purchasing a casket is one of the most expensive parts of the funeral planning process. If you’re in need of a casket or headstone, buying online is a great way to save thousands of dollars. According to Bankrate.com, funeral homes will markup a casket a whopping 300% to 500% and will often purposely display “lower-end” caskets in an unappealing manner to get you to spend more money.
To avoid dropping thousands of dollars on a product you could’ve purchased for under $1,000 from the retailer, it’s best to shop for caskets (and other funeral products) online. Whichever casket you decide on, your funeral home is required by law to use.
Start a memorial fundraiser
If you’re still struggling to cover funeral expenses, an easy way to cover costs is to set up a memorial fundraiser. A memorial fundraiser on Ever Loved is easy to set up, free to use, easily accessible and shareable with your community. Memorial fundraisers offer a way for your friends and family to help you during an incredibly difficult time. Anyone who visits your memorial website will be able to donate and help you pay down funeral expenses. Thousands of families have had their funeral expenses entirely covered by the generosity and support of their community, usually much to their surprise.
When setting up your memorial fundraiser, there’s a few things to keep in mind to get the best results. Here are some of our best tips on running a successful fundraiser:
- Fill out the memorial website in full. Memorial websites on Ever Loved have sections for a photo, events & event details, an obituary, a timeline of someone’s life, and a place for others to upload unlimited memories and photos. Memorial websites that are filled out help those visiting connect with the person who passed away in a meaningful way.
- Be transparent. Let people know what it is you’re raising money for and how they can best support you in your time of need. People like to know where their money is going and knowing that their contribution has helped cover real and concrete expenses helps them feel comfortable donating.
- Engage with those posting on the page. On Ever Loved, you have the option to send out thank you notes to all those who make donations to your page. You can either send out thank you notes in bulk or individually. Acknowledging someone's donation goes a long way in making them feel that they've helped you in your time of need.
- Be realistic in your goals. If you’re raising money to cover funeral expenses, it’s a good idea to get a written estimate from the funeral home or cremation company you’re working with. Once you have an estimate, you’ll be able to set a realistic goal that will cover those expenses. If you haven’t spoken with a funeral home and set your goal at $30,000 to cover a traditional funeral, you might not see as much support as you would’ve otherwise.
- Share the page. Sharing the page is the most important step in running a successful fundraiser. If you’ve already shared the page with friends and family, ask that they share it with anyone they know. If your loved one was a part of any clubs, organizations, churches, or societies -- find out the contact information for people at those organizations and ask that they share the page as well.
If you’re on Medicaid and are struggling to come up with enough money to cover a funeral, make sure that you’ve looked into programs local to you at the county and state level. This can mean the difference between having a cremation paid for and having to cover expenses all on your own. If your state doesn’t offer any type of support, a memorial fundraiser is the next best step in funding a funeral.