Is there financial assistance for funeral expenses?

Tmack asked...

Is there any financial help with paying for a funeral for my mom whois dying with cancer? I have no way to pay for her funeral. I am a single mom and parttime student in college and am looking for any kind of funeral cost assistance.

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

First of all, consider less expensive options such as a graveside service only or cremation, which generally costs between $1,000 and $2,000. While that's a fraction of the cost of most traditional funerals, it's still quite a chunk of change.

There are, however, some places to which you can turn for help in paying for funerals. But you may have to do a bit of footwork and wading through bureaucratic red tape to get the help you need.

  • Most counties have rules on the books that provide that when a person does not have money or means necessary to defray funeral expenses, and his or her relatives or friends are unable or unwilling to pay, the county will provide for the burial. You will usually have to meet some fairly strict low income levels to qualify. Check with your county treasurer's office for details.
  • You or some other surviving family member may be able to get a payment of $255 from the Social Security Administration if your mom or the survivor meets eligibility requirements. That amount won't go very far, but it may help a little.
  • Contact the local funeral or memorial society -- a nonprofit group devoted to protecting consumers' rights and keeping down inflated funeral costs. You can find a local affiliate through the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
  • And finally, if your mom is a veteran, she may qualify for some burial and memorial benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.