Department of Health and Burial Assistance
Most states have a department dedicated to human and health services. Often known as a Department of Human Services, Department of Health Services, Department of Social and Health Services, or Department of Health and Welfare (just to name a few), these government-run organizations exist to provide social services and health care support to low-income families or families in crisis.
Because these are state-run organizations rather than federal ones, each state operates a little differently. Most of them, however, offer things like immunizations, health screenings, mental health programs, child care support, and more. In some cases, you will find they also offer burial assistance—often as a financial contribution you can use to help pay for your loved one’s interment costs.
Accessing Burial Assistance
The only way to know for sure if your state offers burial assistance or emergency relief is to contact the health department directly. Most have phone numbers you can call for information, and they should be able to point you where you need to go.
Not everyone will be eligible for this kind of assistance, though, so even if your state does have a burial service, you are not guaranteed a payout. In most cases, burial assistance is reserved for:
- Children already in the state system (for foster care or low-income assistance)
- Families who get aid for other medical/social issues
- Those who can show proof of insufficient funds for burial
- Qualifying low-income families
- Those receiving emergency or crisis funds
In most cases, the burial assistance goes to individuals and families who are already participating in health and human services, usually due to low income or foster care.
Depending on where you live, you will also find that assistance takes on different forms. In Illinois, for example, you may receive up to $1,103 for a funeral or $552 for a cremation. This money may even be available to those not legally responsible for the burial, provided they make a matching contribution. In states like Michigan, the Department of Human Services offers varying amounts based on the type of service needed, with funds available to those who can prove the decedent’s estate is unable to cover the costs alone.
Getting the Help You Need
Because every state operates differently, it is a good idea to either contact your local health department or work with a funeral home that is knowledgeable about the restrictions and options in your area. Most people are very understanding when it comes to the financial hardship of properly sending a loved one off. If you have insufficient money or are struggling to find ways to cover the costs of the burial, talk with someone who can help.
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By Amy Johnson