When a family member dies, the grieving family must often struggle to find a way to afford a proper burial. However, low income families in Tennessee have some options for finding assistance to pay for a loved one's funeral and burial. By understanding the options, a family can determine which benefits a love one may be eligible to receive which will reduce the financial burden on the family.
Social Security pays a death benefit to a decedent's spouse or minor children to assist with funeral and related costs. The benefit amount is small, only $255 as of 2011. Veterans may receive death benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as well. The VA will pay for the burial and services costs for indigent veterans. The VA will reimburse a veteran's family for some costs of funerals and burials if the veteran dies while receiving VA compensation, died in a VA hospital or approved nursing home or meets other criteria. Veterans may also receive a grave location free of charge at national and state cemeteries as well as some private cemeteries.
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Local Government Benefits
In Tennessee, local governments generally handle funeral assistance programs for those unable to pay for a service or burial. The amount of benefit will vary depending on location, but some areas provide free funeral and burial services in city or county operated cemeteries. Generally these services include a graveside ceremony, burial and a marker. The government office that oversees these services will vary depending on the location in the state, but the coroner's office can refer people to the proper department.
Other Assistance Sources
Family members trying to arrange a funeral for a deceased family member should look into any other benefits that the person may receive as a result of memberships in various organizations. Many labor unions, pension or retirement funds, fraternal organizations and other groups offer burial assistance to members. Churches and other charitable organizations may also assist with paying the costs of a funeral, regardless of whether a person was a member.
Funeral Home Services
For those who are ineligible for financial burial assistance, many funeral homes in Tennessee offer low cost funeral packages for families unable to pay for a full traditional funeral and burial. These packages generally provide only a simple ceremony and burial or cremation. In addition to providing low cost services, funeral directors have experience assisting families with locating funding assistance to pay for a funeral from sources in the local community.
- Nashville.gov: Burial Assistance
- "Herald & Tribune"; Health and Welfare Committee to Recommend Revised Guidelines for Pauper Burial Policy; Karen Sells; February 2011
- FuneralWise.com: The Funeral Process — Death Benefits
- 2-1-1 Tennessee: Helping Hand Ministry - Burial Assistance
- 2-1-1 Tennessee: Hall Funeral Home - Burial Assistance