Yes, New Jersey Even Pays For Funerals

By Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. of Hanlon Niemann & Wright, a Freehold, NJ Medicaid Long-Term Care Attorney

The State of New Jersey will pay for funerals through the Department of Human Services (DHS). To apply for a “public assistance” funeral you must call your county board of social/human services (or welfare agency) in which the deceased person resided at the time of their death.

Individuals eligible for a state public assistance funeral and burial funds include individuals who require long term care benefits under Medicaid and disabled individuals under the age of 65 who qualify for SSI. Eligible persons include:

  • Medicaid Only recipients who lived in the community or in Medicaid approved facilities
  • Medically Needy recipients in nursing homes
  • SSI recipients in hospice are programs
  • Community Care Program for the Elder and Disabled (CCPED) recipients
  • New Jersey Workability Program participants

Funeral Payment Limits

The maximum amount the state will pay for the funeral home portion and the cemetery portion of a public assistance funeral appears below. The columns combine the two amounts and represent the maximum amount the state will pay for the complete funeral (funeral and cemetery portions).

“Allowable Supplementation” is the amount family and friends can add to the combined maximum amount before the state will reduce its payment proportionately. The last column shows the maximum amount the state will pay for a public assistance funeral combined with the maximum amount the state will allow others to contribute.

Supplementation By Family and Friends

The state allows family and friends to contribute money toward a public assistance funeral. Families can apply supplementation to funeral home costs, cemetery costs or both. However, the state limits how much supplementation is allowed.

The supplementation cap is $1,570 for individuals aged two and over. If the family contributes more than $1,570 the state will reduce payment dollar for dollar. For example, if the family contributes $1,670 ($100 more than the cap) the state reduces its maximum adult funeral reimbursement amount from $2,770 to $2,670.

A deceased’s assets cannot be used to supplement their funeral. These assets will be collected by the State of New Jersey. A decedent’s assets will not affect the reimbursement received by Funeral Directors and Cemeteries. Assets are:

  • Cash on hand, in a bank account, or nursing home personal needs account (PNA);
  • Securities, real estate, antique furniture and automobiles;
  • Life insurance or death or funeral benefits regardless of the beneficiary (refunded premiums are exempt);
  • Money paid and/or owed to the deceased before or after death

How to Arrange a Public Assistance Funeral

To arrange a public assistance funeral, make an appointment with a funeral home. Tell the funeral director that you think the deceased is eligible for a public assistance funeral. The funeral director will contact the county board of social services to see if the deceased qualifies and seek “conditional” approval.

The funeral director will make funeral arrangements using welfare funeral planning guidelines. If you want more of a funeral than the guidelines provide, ask about private supplementation. Please note that few cemeteries accept the state maximum benefit of $524 as payment in full and usually require supplementation.

The funeral home may ask you to sign a promise to pay in the event that the deceased doesn’t qualify for a public assistance funeral. If the payment request is rejected, the funeral home will bill you for the balance in addition to any unpaid supplementation amount.

Cemetery and funeral home charges are separate. After the services, the funeral home will submit a bill for up to $2,246 to the county board of social services. The cemetery will file for a maximum payment of $524.

Some funeral homes do not handle welfare funerals and may refer you to another funeral home that does.

To discuss your NJ Elder Care Law & Medicaid matter, please contact Fredrick P. Niemann, Esq. toll-free at (855) 376-5291 or email him at fniemann@hnlawfirm.com.  Please ask us about our video conferencing consultations if you are unable to come to our office.