This blog is part of an ongoing series about little-known Medicaid benefits. An overview of Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid Program) is available on CKF’s Program and Systems webpage. This post explains the burial assistance benefits that are available for individuals who were receiving public assistance or Medical Assistance benefits at the time of their death.

What you should know about burial assistance:

The burial assistance program helps eligible families pay for burial services by covering some of the costs of services, including a funeral and burial or cremation services. To be eligible for this benefit, the deceased individual must have been receiving benefits from one of the following programs at the time of their death:

  • Health First Colorado
  • Colorado Works/Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Adult Financial, specifically Old Age Pension (OAP) and Aid to the Needy and Disabled

Applicants are eligible for a maximum of $1,500 in burial assistance. To calculate how much assistance (if any) an applicant will receive, the state considers:

  • The deceased individual’s estate (this includes property, land, bank accounts, and other items the person owns that can be sold)
  • The deceased individual’s life insurance plan
  • Resources of the deceased individual’s spouse or other people designated responsible for the individual

Each beneficiary can receive up to $1,500. Any resources available from the above list will reduce the amount of funding the applicant will receive.

The total cost of the burial services cannot be more than $2,500. This means that if the burial costs $2,500 and the applicant receives the maximum benefit of $1,500, the family will still have to cover $1,000.

The burial assistance program will make payments directly to the providers of the services, such as the funeral home. The state will not reimburse for services that were already paid. This means that applicants should apply for benefits before paying for any services in order to ensure that services are covered.

Application information to share with your clients:

  • The person applying for this benefit does not have to be related to the deceased individual. Generally, this is a family member or close friend.
  • Burial benefits are not an automatic benefit for members. It requires a separate application.
  • People must apply for this benefit within 30 days of the individual’s death. An extension for up to one year may be available from county offices.
  • Applicants will have to submit the following:
    • Copy of the death certificate.
    • Proof of residency, picture ID and social security number of deceased individual.
    • Proof of income/resources of the deceased individual and spouse, or other legally responsible person, if applicable. This may include checking and savings accounts, the current month’s earned or unearned income, copy of life insurance policies, and more.
  • Applicants should complete the burial assistance application and send it to the deceased individual’s local county office or apply on PEAK. Counties may have specific versions of this form that they prefer (for example, this Burial Application Form from Jefferson County).

More information is available from the Colorado Health Care & Economic Security Staff Development Center’s Adult Financial Burial Processing Manual.