Funeral or bereavement expenses are not considered medical expenses. As a result, Medicare does not cover the funeral costs for Medicare beneficiaries. And, if the beneficiary was enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Medical Savings Account (MSA) plan, the savings account cannot be used to pay burial costs.
Although Medicare does not cover funeral costs, there are benefit programs and burial insurance products available that can help with funeral expenses in some capacity.
- Medicare does not provide any coverage for funeral services.
- Social Security will pay a one-time sum of $255 to a beneficiary’s surviving family.
- Likewise, the Railroad Retirement Board will also provide a one-time sum based on the number of years the employee worked for them.
- Medicaid does not cover funeral expenses, however, any assets you set aside for a funeral do not count against your Medicaid eligibility.
- Burial insurance can be purchased to provide $5,000 to $25,000 for funeral expenses.
- Certain burial insurance policies can apply to funeral expenses for you and your family members.
Can Social Security Help With Funeral Expenses?
Social Security pays survivor benefits, which can be used for funeral costs. This is a one-time payment of $255 to the spouse or child of the beneficiary. The benefit amount all depends on the number of years your loved one worked and paid Social Security taxes.1SSA.gov, “How Social Security Can Help You When a Family Member Dies“, Accessed December 10, 2021
Railroad Retirement Board
The Railroad Retirement Board will also pay death benefits to the employee’s family that can be used for funeral expenses. The death benefit amount is dependent on the number of years worked for the railroad industry and when those years of service were acquired. The average lump-sum death benefit from the Railroad Retirement Board is $933.2RRB.gov, “Q&A: Railroad Retirement Survivor Benefits“, Accessed December 10, 2021
Does Medicaid Cover Funeral Expenses?
Like Medicare, Medicaid does not cover funeral expenses directly. With that said, Medicaid helps indirectly by not counting funeral funds toward your income eligibility for Medicaid. These exempt funeral funds include:3Medicaid.utah.gov, “Medicaid Nursing Home Information“, Accessed December 10, 2021
- Irrevocable trusts or irrevocable prepaid funeral plans.
- Money that is set aside for funeral plans, up to $1,500.
- Fully paid burial items, such as:
- Cemetery plots
What Is Burial Insurance?
Burial insurance is a common term for a whole life insurance policy that includes a death benefit. What burial insurance does is provide a financial benefit for the beneficiary or their loved ones to cover funeral and burial expenses. This benefit can range from $5,000 to $25,000.4III.org, “What is burial insurance?“, Accessed December 10, 2021
Burial insurance can be purchased through an insurance agent to cover your funeral expenses or for your whole family. Some funeral homes are able to sell you a burial insurance policy, but only in certain states.4III.org, “What is burial insurance?“, Accessed December 10, 2021
It is important to plan how you want to be laid to rest and how those funeral expenses will be covered. While it is unfortunate that Medicare does not cover such expenses, there are many benefit programs and insurance policies that can help.
Be sure to report your family member’s death to Medicare and Social Security. You’ll need their Social Security number. Contact Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY users can call 1-800-325-0778). If your loved one worked for the railroad, contact the Railroad Retirement Board at 1-877-772-5772 (TTY users 1-312-751-4701).