October 18, 2007
STATE BURIAL ASSISTANCE
By: Robin K. Cohen, Principal Analyst
You asked for a description of the “mechanics” of the state law that provides for burial assistance to public assistance recipients and other indigent residents. You also wanted to know how recently the amount of assistance (you believe it is $1,400) was increased. You requested this information based on a conversation you had with a constituent who believed the state had not reimbursed the family adequately for his brother's funeral expenses.
Two state laws govern Department of Social Services (DSS) payments for burial expenses: CGS §§17b-84 and -131. The first one covers burial assistance for State Supplement and Temporary Family Assistance (TFA) recipients, while the other is for State-Administered General Assistance (SAGA) recipients or indigent individuals without estates or relatives legally responsible for their last expenses. The latter law also applies to individuals who received Medicaid, although it does not explicitly refer to that program. According to you, your constituent's brother was a Medicaid recipient.
In general, the state will pay up to $1,800 towards funeral expenses. The amount increased from $1,200 in 2006. (The legislature previously raised it in 1986, with the $1,200 amount going into effect on July 1, 1988.) But the state's funeral assistance is reduced by (1) the amount in any revocable or irrevocable funeral fund, (2) any prepaid funeral contract, and (3) the face value of any life insurance policy the decedent owned. For SAGA recipients, indigent residents who did not receive assistance, and Medicaid recipients, the state's contribution is further reduced by any other contributions towards the funeral expenses in excess of $2,800.
You indicated that the state paid the family $1,400 towards the $4,000 it paid for the brother's funeral. While it would appear that the family was entitled to the full $1,800 (its contribution would be $2,200), officials from DSS believe the deceased probably had some money ($400) in his estate, which would have reduced the state's contribution by that amount. Your constituent should contact his or her local DSS office if he believes this reduction was made in error.