Death can be a difficult thing to stomach, especially if it’s a loved one, but for the average American, things only get much worse from that point out, as funeral services tend to cost a pretty penny.
Last year, the average cost for a traditional burial was somewhere around $7.8k, whereas cremation was ever so slightly cheaper, sitting at around $6.9k, and if there are other circumstances tied to the deceased’s passing, you may set yourself back up to $12k in funeral expenses alone.
Thankfully, the government wants everyone to have a nice and peaceful passing, and it’s why they created the funeral assistance program, which helps American families deal with the immense costs of burial services and the accompanying services that come with the passing of a loved one.
Keep reading to learn more about how you can save on funeral expenses and how to qualify for the program.
Why does it cost so much?
Naturally, you must be wondering what could even cost upwards of only a few thousand dollars, but one should consider that a great deal of things go into a funeral.
From picking the type of wood for the casket to the complexity of the burial service as well as the catering for the event, as it will be packed with relatives you may not have seen in a while.
Then you’ve got the price of the burial plot, which is essentially a small piece of land that you’ll be purchasing/renting for use, and even the headstone can cost a lot depending on the kind of stone you’re going for.
Many would argue it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot on a loved one’s funeral, considering the money is “technically“ wasted, but we’d all want the best for the people we care about.
Many make the mistake of opting for embalming services, which is often unnecessary seeing as the body is never going to be dug up again in the near future.
Avoiding embalming services can save you upwards of $775, and while embalming does help in the case of an open-casket funeral, it’s not necessary.
Another thing to consider is the funeral home you’re renting these services from, as you may be able to get a better rate with a local funeral home.
That being said, you should still shop around, mainly due to how easily these prices can fluctuate, and you may be able to get funeral services at a fraction of the cost you were originally willing to pay.
Finally, you should make a lot of these decisions regarding one’s death long before the unfortunate event actually happens, as you’ll ease the pressure all of these services may have on your finances.
State and local burial assistance
Every state in the US has a set of rules regarding the amount of money that can be awarded to a family for funeral assistance, and this is more than just a handout for the sake of charity.
Namely, an improper burial poses a number of risks, including it being a health hazard in the future, which is why cremation has become so popular recently.
In the state of Maine, you can gain access to cremation and burial services through the state’s General Assistance program, which is administered by local agencies based on one’s need for assistance.
The current maximum they’ll offer you for cremation is $785, whereas the burial costs will be covered up to $1125.
In California, on the other hand, you’ll only be eligible for assistance if the death qualifies for the victim compensation law.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s more to social security than just the payments that’ll be getting you through your retirement years.
In fact, social security also offers access to funding for funeral services, although the benefits are much lower than the state programs you may run into.
Through SSI, you can receive a one-time death benefit totaling $225, and even that is only if the deceased worker had already made sufficient social security tax payments.
Surviving houses living in the same household as the deceased SSI beneficiaries are eligible for funeral assistance.
Even if you may be sure that you’re eligible for assistance, it’s best to get correct information by contacting the Social Security Association directly, and they’ll give you a full disclosure of all your social security tax payments and your qualifications for state assistance.
Funeral expenses are much greater than one would imagine, and $7-8k for a burial service is a lot more than the average low-income American family can handle.
With government assistance programs like Social Security, low-income Americans can receive a proper burial without having to worry whether their loved ones will be able to afford it, and that removes a lot of stress from one’s life.
Knowing that your children won’t be struggling because of your death is a feeling of reassurance that you won’t experience often.