Government Services When a Loved One Dies
When you lose an immediate family member (spouse, parent, or child), it is likely that your entire life is going to undergo a change. Not only will there be an emotional struggle, but you may find that your entire means of financial support is gone. Depending on your situation and your loved one’s occupation, you may be entitled to government bereavement support services.
Here is what government death services are and what you might be eligible to receive:
- First responders, military workers, and veterans participating in a government burial may be eligible to receive paid leave and/or sick time off. See: https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/leave-administration/fact-sheets/leave-for-funerals-and-bereavement/
- A spouse or child of someone receiving Social Security benefits may be eligible to receive a $255 lump sum to help cover funeral expenses. See: https://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/4392
- The widow(er) and dependent children of the deceased may be eligible to receive Social Security survivor’s benefits. See: https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10084.pdf
- The dependent children of federal government workers may receive monthly benefits until they reach the age of 18. See: https://www.opm.gov/retirement-services/csrs-information/survivors/
- A burial allowance may be provided for veterans, even if they were not serving at the time of their death. See: https://www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-burial.asp
- The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) offers bereavement counseling to parents, spouses, and children of Armed Forces personnel, reservists, and National Guardsmen who died in the service of their country. See: https://www.vetcenter.va.gov/bereavement_counseling.asp
- If you are unable to cover any of the costs of burial or cremation, your state and/or county may provide assistance (provided you show proof of income). This usually takes the form of cremating the body and disposing of the remains in accordance with local regulations. Contact your city’s health department for more information.
If you are uncertain about any possible benefits, be sure and ask the associated government body (usually Social Security, the VA, or a federal/state government employer). Often, death benefits will go unclaimed because of a lack of communication about what is available to you and how you can apply for it.