The Complete A-to-Z Guide to Getting State Government Assistance for a Funeral
Planning a funeral for a loved one is never easy. It’s often difficult to say a final goodbye while managing the financial burdens of funeral and burial costs.
Families who can’t afford to pay funeral expenses may benefit from various federal and state burial assistance programs and other death benefits.
If you need help financing a loved one’s funeral, our comprehensive guide provides all the information you need regarding funeral and cremation costs.
+–AL / AK / AZ / AR / CA
Alabama does not provide funeral or burial assistance at a statewide level. State law decrees that individual counties are responsible for necessary burial or cremation expenses if the decedent’s immediate family members cannot afford to pay the funeral costs (cremation is offered unless the deceased’s religion prohibits it).
Next of kin must apply for indigent burial assistance and eligibility is based on federal poverty guidelines. Property, financial assets, and debts are all reviewed to determine whether the family has no available resources.
In Alabama, a death certificate must be filed within five days. Because the deceased may not be buried or cremated without a death certificate, it’s important to collect the required funeral paperwork as soon as possible.
Where to apply: Alabama County Officials contact information can be found here.
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services-Division of Public Assistance offers General Relief Assistance (GRA) to Alaskans in need of financial assistance for a dignified burial. However, funding is limited and used as a last resort for families with an immediate need (that cannot be met by other agencies or programs).
The U.S. Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs also offers a burial assistance program (BIA) to federally-recognized Alaskan Natives. A one-time payment of up to $2,500 is available for funeral/burial expenses and is made directly to the funeral provider. Applicants must provide proof of tribal membership when completing the BIA application.
Where to apply: To receive GRA, Alaskans must fill out an application and deliver/mail it to the closest Public Assistance office.
Arizona does not have state funeral or burial assistance. Families in need must apply at the county level.
Arizona counties which provide help with burial/cremation expenses maintain their own individual service programs with varying levels of assistance to eligible applicants. For example, the Mohave County Public Fiduciary offers $400 for indigent cremation (plus administrative fees of $450) while the Maricopa County Public Fiduciary will pay up to $350 in burial costs, depending on eligibility.
Where to apply: To find out if your Arizona county offers burial assistance, visit the 211Arizona.org resource directory.
Arkansas does not provide state resources for funeral/cremation or burial assistance. Families seeking help with funeral costs for a loved one should check with their local government agencies, charitable organizations, or ask their funeral director for guidance.
Where to apply: To find out whether your Arkansas county offers burial assistance, visit the 211Arkansas.org resource directory. Note: At the time of publication, this directory served Benton, Carroll, Madison, and Washington counties only.
California state law does not provide funeral or burial assistance and the deceased’s family is usually responsible for covering funeral/cremation costs. However, there are some notable exceptions:
- Crime Victims – The California Victim Compensation Board may pay up to $7,500 for the funeral, burial, and/or memorial services of crime victims after the family’s available sources of payment have been applied.
- Disaster Victims – the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may offer disaster funeral assistance to families of California residents who died because of a federally-recognized disaster or emergency. These funeral funds are usually provided, depending on certain eligibility criteria and proof of burial expenses.
Indigent families who do not fall into the above categories should check with their local county agency. Income limits will determine eligibility for funeral or cremation assistance.
Where to apply: Contact information for the California Department of Social Services can be found here.
+–CO / CT / DE / FL / GA
Colorado does not provide funeral or burial assistance at a statewide level. Families requiring financial help should apply at their local county agency.
The Colorado Department of Human Services county offices offer various benefit assistance programs, which may include funeral assistance for eligible applicants. For example, in Douglas County, families may be able to receive up to $2,500 to pay for cremation, funeral, and burial costs.
The Colorado State Patrol Victim’s Assistance Unit also offers assistance with funeral arrangements and expenses for people who are victims of criminal behavior on Colorado’s highways (e.g. careless driving, hit and runs).
Where to apply: Find your Colorado county Human Services Department contact information here.
Connecticut law states that if a person dies in Connecticut without enough assets in their personal estate to cover funeral and burial costs, the Department of Social Services (DSS) is required to provide payment towards funeral/cremation expenses. DSS is also required to provide burial assistance to those receiving certain state benefit programs (e.g., State Supplement Program, Temporary Family Assistance).
At the time of publication, the maximum amount of funeral assistance payment from Connecticut DSS was $1,800. This amount, however, must be reduced by funds from other applicable sources such as life insurance and/or contributions from family and friends. DSS makes the payment directly to the funeral or cremation provider.
Where to apply: Find the burial assistance application on the Connecticut Department of Social Services website.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (DC)
DC Department of Human Services provides a Burial Assistance Program to eligible residents of the District of Columbia. A maximum amount of $1,000 is offered for burial costs, and up to $650 is provided for cremation expenses. If the deceased requires an oversized casket, total burial costs cannot exceed $3,000.
Individuals are eligible to receive burial assistance from the DC Burial Assistance Program as long as the deceased did not have funds available of more than $1,000 on the date of death. In addition, to make arrangements, burial or cremation services must go through funeral homes under contract with the District.
Where to apply: Apply in person at the Economic Security Administration Service Center located at 645 H. Street NE, Washington DC..
Delaware may provide financial assistance to pay the burial expenses of an indigent person. The Delaware Department of Health and Services is responsible for determining the amount of burial assistance, based on the lowest funeral and burial costs which are obtained locally.
However, this amount must be reduced by funds from resources (such as insurance or other benefits). Indigent state burials often consist of a direct funeral without a visitation/viewing.
Where to apply: Find Delaware Health and Social Services office locations and contact information here.
Florida does not provide funeral or burial assistance at a statewide level. Families in need of financial help to cover funeral or cremation expenses should check with their local county administrators. For example, Escambia County offers a cremation program as a last resort to pay for burial expenses incurred for indigent residents.
Where to apply: Contact your local Florida County Health Department to inquire about burial assistance programs.
The Georgia Department of Human Services-Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) is responsible for providing funeral or burial assistance to families of indigent individuals. Indigent burial programs are managed at the county level and services are based on specific eligibility criteria, such as the applicant must not possess any life insurance or have any financial resources.
Funeral/cremation assistance amounts vary per county. For example, in Fulton County, allocated costs of burial cannot exceed $600.
Where to apply: Find Georgia Division of Family and Children Services County Offices contact information here.
Discover more about planning a funeral in Atlanta, GA, or learn everything you need to know about average cremation costs in Atlanta.
+–HI / ID / IL / IN / IA
Hawaii offers a Death Payments Program through the Department of Human Services’ Med-QUEST Division. The program provides lump sum death benefits for burial/cremation expenses to applicants who are eligible for state financial assistance, or for unclaimed bodies.
Applications and death certificates must be filed no later than 60 days from the date of death, and payments are made to the applicant or a licensed funeral/cemetery provider (in the case of an unclaimed body).
Where to apply: Complete an application at the Med-QUEST Division offices listed here.
Idaho does not provide financial funeral assistance at a statewide level, however, some county governments offer assistance for burial or cremation expenses.
In some cases, funeral assistance comes in the form of indigent funds which are only used as a last resort when no other alternatives are available to the deceased’s family.
Where to apply: To check if your local Idaho County offers funeral or burial assistance, find Idaho Counties contact information here.
The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) offers a Funeral and Burial Benefits service that pays funeral/cremation expenses for individuals whose financial resources were less than DHS standard payment rates. This includes persons who (at the time of death) were receiving or would have qualified for state assistance.
At the time of publication, IDHS paid up to $1,103 for funeral costs and up to $552 for a cremation/burial. Payment is made to claims submitted by a funeral home or cemetery, or by an applicant seeking reimbursement for the deceased’s funeral and burial expenses.
Where to apply: Apply for Illinois funeral and burial assistance online or in person at a local Family Community Resource Center.
Indiana has an established Burial Assistance Program that provides reimbursement of funeral and burial costs for people covered by Medicaid in eligible categories (e.g. aged, blind, disabled). Indiana only allows funeral homes and cemetery representatives to apply on behalf of the deceased, and the claim must be filed within 90 days from the date of death.
At the time of writing, the maximum defrayed costs Indiana paid was up to $1,200 for a funeral and up to $800 for cemetery expenses.
Where to apply: Funeral and cemetery providers can complete the Indiana Burial Assistance claim form #35937 online.
Iowa does not provide state resources for funeral/cremation assistance, although per Iowa State Code 252.27, burial assistance of no more than $250 may be available for nonresident indigent transients.
Some Iowa counties offer funeral assistance to residents. For example, Black Hawk County offers a burial policy of up to $1,000 to eligible applicants for funeral and cremation services.
Where to apply: Contact the Iowa Department of Human Services to inquire about burial assistance programs in your local county.
+–KS / KY / LA / ME / MD
Kansas does not provide funeral or burial assistance at a statewide level. Families in need of financial help should contact local county administration. Some county governments may offer assistance for indigent burials/cremations and unclaimed bodies.
Where to apply: To check if your local Kansas County offers burial assistance, find the contact information for Kansas County officials here.
Kentucky does not have an established state program to assist with funeral and burial expenses. Some counties may contribute towards burial of indigent people but they are not required to provide funding.
In addition, the county coroner’s office must employ due diligence when trying to locate next of kin before any payment is made towards funeral/cremation costs.
Where to apply: To check whether your local Kentucky county offers burial assistance, find the contact information for Kentucky counties here.
The state of Louisiana does not provide funeral/cremation assistance at a statewide level. Families who require financial help with a loved one’s funeral can check with their local parish for support/resources or speak to their funeral director.
Where to apply: To check if your Louisiana parish offers funeral or burial assistance, find Louisiana parish offices contact information here.
Maine offers state assistance for funeral and burial expenses through the General Assistance program, administered by local municipalities. If the family of the deceased is unable to pay for funeral costs, the municipality assumes responsibility. However, any available financial resources or veterans benefits must be applied to the maximum amount paid.
At the time of publication, the Maine General Assistance Program will pay the funeral director for the basic costs of a funeral ($1,125) or cremation ($785).
Where to apply: To check if your Maine county offers assistance, find a list of Maine municipality websites here.
Maryland has a state-funded Burial Assistance Program that offers financial assistance to families who can’t afford funeral costs. The deceased person must meet eligibility requirements set forth by the Maryland Department of Human Resources and the program provides a cash benefit paid to the funeral director.
Verification of assets is required and burial assistance funds cannot be used to reimburse pre-paid funeral expenses. At the time of writing, total funeral expenses cannot exceed $2,500 and the benefit amount is $650 (although certain exceptions may be made).
Where to apply: Complete the Maryland Burial Assistance Contact Form online or contact your local Maryland Department of Human Resources office.
+–MA / MI / MN / MS / MO
The state of Massachusetts offers funeral and cremation assistance for indigent people who die without the financial resources to pay for funeral expenses. The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) offers a maximum amount of $1,100 and the funds are paid directly to the funeral home provider. However, the DTA funeral benefit is considered as a “last resort” and can only be utilized after all available payment sources have been exhausted.
The application for Massachusetts funeral and burial assistance must be made within six months of the date of death.
Where to apply: Contact your local Massachusetts Department of Transitional Office for application details.
Michigan offers financial assistance for burial services, cremation and costs related to body donation via the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Assistance is only provided if the deceased’s estate and assets cannot pay for the funeral or body donation expenses.
The application is due 10 business days after the cremation, burial, or donation of the body takes place and payment is made to the funeral/cremation provider or cemetery. At the time of writing, payment amounts range between $45 and $555.
Where to apply: Contact your local Michigan Department of Health and Human Services County Office or talk to your funeral director.
Minnesota does not provide funeral/cremation assistance at a statewide level, however, each county must provide burial assistance for indigent people who died in the county without any financial means.
Minnesota county boards must first check to see if the deceased had any prepaid funeral arrangements in place before paying for cremation expenses. Cremation is preferred as long as it was accepted by the decedent and their next of kin.
A funeral or burial is provided only if cremation is not in accordance with the deceased’s spiritual beliefs or known personal preferences, or if the bereaved family declines cremation.
Minnesota County assistance amounts vary (e.g. Sherburne County will pay up to $1,500 directly to the funeral provider, while Hennepin County offers a maximum amount of $3,000).
Where to apply: Check here to find details for Minnesota county and tribal contact information.
Mississippi does not provide funeral or burial assistance at a statewide level. The responsibility of paying funeral and burial costs for indigent Mississippi residents falls on each individual county’s board of supervisors.
The county board is expected to establish an indigent burial policy so that poor county residents are “decently buried”, based upon a review of available financial resources, if any.
Where to apply: To check if your Mississippi county offers assistance, find local Mississippi County contact information here.
Missouri state law does not provide funeral and burial assistance for Missouri residents. Missouri county and city agencies are responsible for covering the cost of indigent burials, sometimes with assistance from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks (CFO).
After due consideration, the CFO may offer a $400 reimbursement from their Indigent Burial and Funeral Fund after receiving the receipt of a death certificate and invoice from the funeral home.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety Crime Victims’ Compensation program offers up to $5,000 to the victim’s family to cover funeral and burial expenses, and is based on applicable eligibility requirements.
Where to apply: Find a list of Missouri city and county government contact information here.
+–MT / NE / NV / NH / NJ
Montana does not provide funeral or burial assistance at a statewide level. Financial resources may be available at the county level if the county operates an indigent assistance program which assists families with paying funeral/cremation expenses.
Where to apply: To check if your Montana county offers assistance, find the contact information for Montana County website links here.
Nebraska does not offer funeral or burial assistance at a statewide level, however individual counties may offer financial help with cremation and funeral expenses as needed.
For example, Lancaster County offers $800 for cremation if the deceased’s estate cannot cover the expenses and the next of kin has insufficient resources. If direct cremation is not feasible due to legal considerations, burial may be allowed.
Where to apply: Check Nebraska County contact information here for a listing of county officials.
The state of Nevada does not provide financial assistance for funeral or cremation expenses. Some counties provide some assistance, e.g., Clark County Social Service accepts referrals for funeral benefits from funeral/cremation providers and cemeteries for indigent people who die within Clark County.
Where to apply: To find out if your Nevada county offers assistance, check the directory of Nevada County contact information here.
NEW HAMPSHIRE (NH)
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (NHDHHS) offers funeral assistance to individuals who were receiving state benefits when they passed away.
At the time of writing, up to $750 may be provided to cover funeral, burial, or cremation expenses if eligibility requirements are met and all available financial resources (including family contributions and death benefits) are exhausted.
NHDHHS pays the funeral/burial assistance directly to the funeral or cremation provider.
Where to apply: Find contact information for your local New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services District Office here.
NEW JERSEY (NJ)
New Jersey provides funeral assistance through the Department of Human Services (DHS). Residents eligible for DHS funeral and burial benefits include newly-approved applicants (within 15 days of death) as well as active recipients of state public assistance.
Public assistance funerals are arranged by a funeral home and New Jersey offers reimbursement for both funeral home and cemetery expenses. At the time of publication, the maximum amount ranged from $242 to $4,340, depending on the age of the deceased.
Family and friends can also contribute to burial expenses but New Jersey will limit supplementation amounts.
Where to apply: Speak with your funeral director and find contact information for New Jersey Department of Human Services, County Board Social Service offices here.
+–NM / NY / NC / ND / OH
NEW MEXICO (NM)
The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) provides up to $200 in burial assistance for low-income individuals who were receiving state support at the time of death. This cash benefit is only available if the legally-responsible family members of the deceased (e.g. spouse, parents of minor unmarried children) have insufficient resources to cover funeral costs.
The HSD may conduct interviews as part of the application process to determine availability of family financial resources, however, burial assistance is usually processed no later than 30 days after an application is received.
Where to apply: Find contact information via the New Mexico Human Services Department Field Offices or call the Income Support Division Customer Services Center at (800) 283-4465.
NEW YORK (NY)
New York does not operate a statewide funeral or burial assistance program but financial support may be available at a city or county level.
For example, low-income residents of New York City can receive up to $900 for funeral expenses if they meet eligibility requirements, although funds may only be applied to funeral costs of no more than $1,700.
Monroe County, NY offers funeral assistance grants up to $1,250 for decedents aged six years or older as long as total funeral expenses are no more than $6,000.
New York State also offers an indigent burial reimbursement of up to $2,000 to Veterans Service Organizations that provide funeral services for veterans in need.
Where to apply: Learn more about New York assistance with this list of New York county websites.
NORTH CAROLINA (NC)
North Carolina does not provide statewide funeral or burial assistance but financial support may be available at the county level. For example, the Durham County Department of Social Services is responsible for cremation expenses for unclaimed bodies and offers burial/cremation assistance for indigent families.
Where to apply: Discover North Carolina county office contact information here.
NORTH DAKOTA (ND)
North Dakota does not provide state financial assistance for funeral expenses, however, some counties offer limited burial funding. For example, Burleigh County provides a maximum payment of $2,100 for deceased residents that were unable to pay final expenses, and Cass County manages a burial assistance program for indigent individuals who meet eligibility requirements.
Where to apply: To check if your North Dakota county offers assistance, find the contact information of North Dakota Social Services Offices here or call the North Dakota Department of Human Services at (800) 472-2622.
Ohio does not offer statewide funeral or burial assistance, but the Ohio Revised Code states that townships or municipalities must pay basic funeral or cremation expenses for indigent persons. In addition, if the deceased individual is buried, local administration must provide a grave marker engraved with the person’s name and age (if known), as well as the date of death.
Ohio funeral assistance programs vary based on county resources and funding. In Cuyahoga County, for example, the Cleveland Department of Public Health administers an Indigent Cremation Program to provide direct cremation services as a last resort.
Where to apply: To check whether your local Ohio city, county, or township offers assistance, you can find a roster of local Ohio government officials here.
+–OK / OR / PA / RI / SC
Oklahoma does not provide funeral or burial assistance at a statewide level, but financial resources may be available for county residents. The amount of support depends on county funding. For example, Oklahoma County offers a burial/cremation program for indigent persons and/or unclaimed bodies which is based upon a referral from a local funeral home or the coroner’s office.
Where to apply: Call your local Oklahoma funeral director or find contact information for Oklahoma Department of Human Services County Offices here.
The state of Oregon does not have statewide funeral assistance funds, however, the Oregon Indigent Disposition Program (IDP) will reimburse licensed funeral homes for funeral expenses incurred while taking care of unclaimed bodies of indigent people.
Note: The IDP is managed by the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board. It is not available to the general public and IDP funds can only be paid out to funeral homes.
Where to apply: Licensed funeral establishments in Oregon can fill out the Oregon Indigent Disposition Program application or call an Indigent Program Specialist at (971) 673-1504.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA DHS) provides payment for funeral and burial services for eligible residents. Eligibility depends on whether the deceased person was receiving (or had qualified to receive) cash assistance from DHS, received Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or was a nursing home resident receiving SSI.
Where to apply: Apply for Pennsylvania assistance through your local Pennsylvania Department of Human Services County Assistance Office.
RHODE ISLAND (RI)
Rhode Island offers financial support for funeral and burial services through the State of Rhode Island Dept. of Human Services General Public Assistance program (GPA). Funding is limited to $900 and may be reduced based on available income and resources of the deceased person’s legally liable relatives.
Where to apply: To apply for Rhode Island’s General Public Assistance program, contact your local Rhode Island Department of Human Services Office or call the DHS Call Center at (855) 697-4347.
SOUTH CAROLINA (SC)
South Carolina does not provide funeral or burial assistance at a statewide level, however, funeral support may be available from county governments. For example, Greenville County may provide a burial plot or cremation services as well as financial assistance for indigent residents who meet eligibility requirements.
Where to apply: To check if your local South Carolina county offers assistance, start with this list of South Carolina County websites.
+–SD / TN / TX / UT / VT
SOUTH DAKOTA (SD)
South Dakota does not provide funeral or burial assistance on a statewide level, however individual counties do offer financial assistance to cover the burial costs of indigent residents.
For instance, Minnehaha County Health Services offers county residents without any resources up to $2,000 for cremation and up to $3,000 for a traditional funeral/memorial service. This death benefit is only available if the family of the deceased person does not have sufficient means to pay for the funeral expenses.
Where to apply: Contact your local South Dakota Department of Social Services office to learn whether your South Dakota county offers assistance.
Tennessee does not have a statewide program that offers funeral/burial benefits but financial assistance may be available at local county level. For example, the city of Nashville offers burial and cremation assistance for residents who die without sufficient resources to cover funeral costs.
Where to apply: Discover whether your local Tennessee county offers assistance.
The state of Texas does not have a funeral or burial assistance program but funeral resources may be available at the county level. For example, Tarrant County offers body donation and cremation services to qualifying applicants, but only as a last resort when no other resources are available.
The Texas Health and Human Services department also manages a Burial or Cremation Assistance Registry with a list of participating funeral homes and cemetery providers willing to provide “free common burial or low-cost private burial” services. Registry contact information is available upon request to physicians and health care providers.
Where to apply: Visit your local Texas County website for more details or find your local Texas Health and Human Services office here.
Utah does not provide funeral/burial assistance at a statewide level. If the family of the deceased cannot pay funeral expenses, the county in which the death occurred is subsequently responsible for the disposition of the remains.
The Utah Office of the Medical Examiner directs residents in Salt Lake County to contact Wiscombe Memorial to inquire about financial help. Residents outside Salt Lake County should contact their local health department office for more information.
Where to apply: Contact your local Utah Health Department Vital Records office to learn whether they provide funeral or cremation assistance.
Vermont provides funeral/burial assistance to eligible families through the Vermont Agency of Human Services Department for Children and Families.
Financial help with costs come in the form of Emergency/General Assistance and payment is made directly to the funeral or cremation provider. A maximum benefit of $1,100 is available to cover the full cost of a basic cremation or burial for those who meet eligibility requirements.
Where to apply: To apply for Vermont state assistance, visit your local Vermont Economic Services Division District office in person.
+–VA / WA / WV / WI / WY
Virginia provides limited financial aid for funeral and burial assistance through the Virginia General Relief program which is administered by the Virginia Department of Social Services. The General Relief program is locally funded with eligibility guidelines similar to those of federal welfare assistance programs. These funds may be used for various purposes including funeral expenses.
The amount of assistance varies by county. For instance, the City of Richmond Department of Social Services offers up to $500 to eligible individuals and families in order to cover funeral and burial costs.
Where to apply: To learn whether your local Virginia County offers funeral or cremation assistance, contact your local Virginia Department of Social Services office.
The state of Washington does not have a statewide funeral assistance program, and Washington county welfare agencies are responsible for covering the burial costs of indigent residents that meet specific eligibility requirements. For example, King County offers financial assistance for cremation and burial for destitute individuals after searching for next-of-kin and reviewing personal finances thoroughly.
Where to apply: To find out if your Washington County offers assistance, contact the local Washington State Department of Health and Social Services office.
WEST VIRGINIA (WV)
West Virginia provides funeral assistance via the Indigent Burial Program managed by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. Cremation is the preferred service for this program, and a benefit of up to $1,000 is available to cover the funeral expenses for eligible children and adults. The payment is usually made to the funeral home after the application for burial benefits is approved.
Where to apply: To apply for West Virginia’s Indigent Burial Program, contact your local West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Field Office.
The state of Wisconsin offers funeral assistance through the Wisconsin Funeral and Cemetery Aids Program (WFCAP). To apply for benefits, families should contact their local funeral director or cremation provider for help with the application process.
For eligible decedents enrolled in certain welfare programs, Wisconsin deathcare service providers may receive a WFCAP payment (up to $1,500 for funeral/burial expenses and up to $1,000 for unmet cemetery/crematory expenses).
Where to apply: To learn more about Wisconsin Funeral and Cemetery Aids Program eligibility requirements, call 1-888-859-0611 or send an email to DHSWFCAPapplications@wi.gov.
Wyoming provides limited burial and funeral assistance through the Wyoming Department of Family Services. Local Wyoming county agencies are responsible for administering benefits to eligible individuals and families.
Where to apply: To discover whether your Wyoming county offers funeral and burial assistance, find the contact information for your local Wyoming County Department of Family Service office here.