Does Medicare Pay for Funeral Expenses?


Losing a loved one can be a traumatic experience, and the wall of grief you’re faced with is often compounded by the expenses that accompany an unexpected death. Funerals are extremely expensive, costing between $7,000 and $10,000 on average, and for many people, this is a cost they simply haven’t planned for, or rather can’t afford to plan for.


Does Medicare Pay For Funeral Expenses?

Unfortunately, a Medicare death benefit does not exist right now. 

Social Security pays a one-time $255 payment to a spouse or child, however, the long-term benefits a surviving spouse or child/children may be eligible for depends on the amount the deceased paid into Social Security, as well as the survivor’s age and their Social Security eligibility status. 

What About State Help With Funeral Costs?

This differs from state to state, as every state has a specific budget and rules for funeral assistance. You should contact the state department of health or the county coroner for help and more information, while the Department of Health and Human 

Services may provide burial for those in poverty. 

In order to receive any kind of help, you’ll need to apply for help at the health department in the county where the deceased resided.If your state doesn’t provide funeral assistance, there may be county or city assistance that can help you cover the costs. 

Should I Notify Medicare Of A Death? 

Yes, you should always report the death of a beneficiary to Medicare, and there are several reasons for this.

Firstly, if they are not notified, Medicare may continue to bill the deceased person for their Part B premiums, and secondly, letting Medicare know that a beneficiary has passed away reduces the risk of fraud. For these reasons, you should let Medicare know as soon as possible. 

How Do I Notify Medicare? 

To report the death of a Medicare beneficiary the usual course of action is to notify Social Security. However, if the beneficiary was collecting Railroad Retirement Benefits, you’ll need to report their death to the Railroad Retirement Board. 

Social Security will process the death of the beneficiary and any private insurers will be notified by CMS.

Because Medicare and Social Security are connected, you only need to make a single call to the Social Security Administration.

Sometimes, a representative at the funeral home can handle this process for you, but whoever calls needs to know the deceased’s Social Security Number in order to make the request and notify the system of the death. 

The number for Social Security is 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778), or you can visit your local SSA office in person.

How Do I Cancel Supplemental Medicare Insurance When There’s A Death? 

Medicare recipients often have additional coverage such as Medicare supplement, Advantage Plan, or Part D prescription drug coverage. While notifying Social Security stops the original Medicare plan, the above supplements need to each be taken care of separately. 

This means you’ll need to contact each carrier to notify them, and they may require proof and paperwork. Contact details for each plan provider can be found on the deceased’s insurance cards.

If you don’t know which additional plans they had, you can check their bank statements for any recurring payments of monthly premiums and look for the carrier names. 

Final Expense Insurance 

Final expense insurance is a whole life insurance policy that is generally easier to get approved for, and it also has a small death benefit attached to it. 

It’s sometimes called “funeral insurance,” “burial insurance,” “simplified issue whole life insurance,” or “modified whole life insurance.”

If you don’t have final expense savings, an insurance policy could make sense as an alternative. 

It depends on your individual financial situation, as if you’ve saved money to cover all the costs, final expense insurance isn’t necessary. If you think your savings may fall short, it’s best to plan ahead and consider a burial policy.

Final Arrangements

It’s not nice to think about, but planning ahead can save your loved ones a lot of stress further down the line. 

You should think about having an estate plan, a will, beneficiaries for your assets, life insurance, a Durable Power of Attorney, and advanced medical directives. 

Thinking about these things now can prevent issues for your loved ones in the future, but you also have the flexibility to reassess your plan and make changes to it if needed. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Medicare Cover Cremation?

Unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t consider cremation  – or funerals – as a medical expense, so no coverage is available under Medicare. 

Can I Report A Death To Medicare Online?

You can’t currently do this online, so you’ll need to contact the Social Security Administration via telephone or in-person.

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