Does Medicare Cover Funeral Expenses? [Add’l Gov Assistance Programs Covered]

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    Does Medicare Cover Funeral Expenses

    If you’re here, you probably know how much a funeral costs these days.

    Once you add up all of the funeral and burial expenses, you’ll have to shell out between $7,000 and $15,000, according to the National Funeral Directors Association.  As much as we love our family, it’s not easy to scrape together this much money.

    For such a basic need as easing the death of loved ones, it makes sense to ask whether the government, specifically the federal Medicare program, might offer some help.

    $ 0
    Average U.S. Funeral Cost
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    % of Americans Cremated

    Does Medicare Cover Funeral Expenses?

    Medicare pays for services you receive in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, such as the room and meals, but it does not pay for funerals.

    Medicare only covers expenses that are medically necessary while the Medicare beneficiary is living.

    Venn Diagram of What Medicare Covers

    Therefore, regardless of your plan type, Medicare does NOT consider funeral expenses medical expenses.

    This also applies if you are enrolled in a Medicare Medical Savings Account plan, a high-deductible plan that includes a savings account you can use to pay for qualifying expenses.

    Medicaid & Funeral Costs

    For similar reasons (given that funeral costs are not considered medical expenses), Medicaid does not cover the cost of a funeral.

    Local Assistance For Funeral Or Burial Expenses

    For low-income residents, some states or counties offer assistance programs for families who do not have the means to pay for funeral expenses for a loved one.

    This assistance covers a basic funeral or cremation with a service and is generally less than $1,000.

    Saving For A Funeral Can Be Hard

    Additional Government Programs

    Department of Veterans Affairs

    The Department of Veterans Affairs does not cover funeral costs.

    However, veterans are eligible to be buried in a national cemetery for no cost. The surviving spouse or parents may also receive financial assistance with funerals through the National Cemetery Administration program.

    Social Security

    Although the Social Security Administration does pay survivor benefits after the death of an SSI recipient, the amount is too small to be of meaningful help with the cost of funeral arrangements.

    Social Security pays a one-time lump-sum death payment of $255 to the surviving spouse, as long as he or she was living with the deceased or was receiving social security benefits on the deceased’s record.

    If there is no living spouse, the payment is made to a child who is eligible for benefits on the deceased’s record in the month of death.

    Be sure to visit the relevant page on the SSA’s website or speak with your local social security office to confirm your eligibility.


    Does Medicare cover funeral costs?  Are there other government programs that help family members cope with the exorbitant cost of traditional funerals?

    The answer to both is, unfortunately, a resounding “no.”

    The best way to ensure that you can pay for a funeral for your loved one is to purchase burial insurance (also known as final expense insurance), a type of whole life insurance policy that has a small death benefit (up to $25,000) and correspondingly small monthly premiums. 

    Burial insurance not only covers burial costs and funeral expenses but may also be used for other final expenses – such as outstanding debt or medical bills.

    Be sure to speak to a licensed insurance agent to explore your burial insurance options!

    Warm Regards,
    The GetSure Team

    Rikin Shah

    Rikin Shah

    Rikin is the Founder & Head of Content at GetSure. He is a licensed life, accident & health insurance agent, with over 10 years of experience in the financial services industry. He holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Columbia University and an MBA from The Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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