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The State of New Jersey helps the needy pay for funerals through the Department of Human Services (DHS). Apply for "public assistance" funeral funds by calling the board of social/human services (or welfare agency) in the county in which the deceased resided at the time of their death. For a list of county boards of social/human services visit State of NJ Human Services Programs.
Public Assistance (Welfare)
Individuals eligible for state public assistance funeral and burial funds include:
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 fourth column combines the two amounts and represents 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 NJ. A decedent’s assets will not affect the reimbursement received by Funeral Directors and Cemeteries. Assets are:
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 than the guidelines provide, ask about supplementation. Please note that few cemeteries accept the state maximum $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 submit for a maximum payment of $524.
Some funeral homes do not handle welfare funerals and may refer you to another funeral home that does.