How can I get financial assistance with cremation?

A fellow caregiver asked...

i am in need of help with cremation costs.  My husband just passed and I need to pay for his cremation.  I have no source of income and he left us with nothing.  I have no job and family members don't have money to help.  Is there any place i can turn too that might help me pay for my husband's cremation costs?

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.

Yes, there are a number of places that may offer financial assistance in covering the cost of cremation, likely to run from about $1,000 to 2,000.

For starters, most counties have rules that provide that when a person dies without means and his or her relatives or friends cannot pay the costs of a burial, the county will provide for it. 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 you or your husband meet eligibility requirements. That amount won't go very far, but it may help some.

You can also 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 husband was a veteran, he may qualify for some burial and memorial benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.