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AISH Program Policy

Published Date: November 30, 2022
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Benefits

Personal Benefits

Funeral Benefits

AUTHORITY
Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Act, sections 3(1)(a) and 3.2; Schedule 1, section 7
Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped General Regulation, sections 2(c), 2.01(1)(d)(ii), 2.01(2)(b), and 8; Schedule 3 section 12
Funeral Services Act General Regulation, section 36(2)
Ministerial Order 2022-002 Funeral Benefits


INTENT

To describe what funeral benefits may be provided by AISH, the eligibility criteria for funeral benefits, the applicable benefit rates, and the delegated authority for decisions.

POLICY

In order to receive a funeral benefit, the eligibility criteria as outlined in the Personal Benefits section must be met.

If the Personal Benefit criteria are met, funeral benefits are available to assist with funeral costs when a client, their cohabiting partner, or a dependent child has passed away.

Funeral benefits may be provided for:

  • Expenses related to the burial or cremation and funeral of the deceased individual within Alberta; or
  • Expenses related to transporting the deceased individual to another province/territory for burial or cremation.


Burial or Cremation and Funeral Expenses

Burial or cremation and funeral expenses may include a variety of goods and services. If the remains are laid to rest in a cemetery, there are also cemetery expenses.

The following are examples of potential expenses, but are not a complete list:

  • Cremation;
  • Embalming and other preparations;
  • Casket or urn;
  • Ceremonial farewell, including facility rental and refreshments;
  • Cemetery expenses, such as:
    • Cemetery plot;
    • Cemetery perpetual fees;
    • Grave opening and closing fees;
    • Grave liner; and
  • Transportation within Alberta.


Transportation for the Deceased to another Province/Territory for Burial or Cremation

Transportation expenses may include, but are not limited to:

  • Preparing the human remains prior to shipping;
  • Hermetically sealed casket or other approved container; and
  • Transportation by road and/or by airfreight to another province/territory for burial or cremation.


Definitions for the Relationships to the Deceased Individual

Depending on the relationship to the deceased, an individual may be expected to contribute financially towards the expenses for a burial or cremation, funeral or transportation.

Responsible Survivor

A responsible survivor is expected to financially contribute toward the cost of funeral services.

A responsible survivor is defined as:

  • the cohabiting partner of the deceased (providing that the deceased and cohabiting partner were not separated);
  • the legal parents of a deceased dependent child; or
  • the legal sponsor of a sponsored immigrant.


AISH does not provide funeral benefits if the responsible survivor has non-exempt assets over $5,000 and refuses to pay, or refuses to provide the information required showing their inability to pay or their financial situation. If the client/cohabiting partner was/is in a situation of financial hardship, a personal benefit may be approved when a client and their cohabiting partner have non-exempt assets over $5,000.

Non-Responsible Survivor

A non-responsible survivor is not required to contribute financially toward funeral expenses. A non-responsible survivor is any family member, friend, or organization, who is not considered a responsible survivor, who may assist with making funeral service arrangements for the deceased individual.

Depending on who is available to make the arrangements for the deceased individual, the application for funeral benefits may be submitted by a non-responsible survivor.


Other Available Resources

Additional resources may become available to the estate or to a responsible survivor upon the death of a client or member of their household. AISH does not provide funeral benefits if burial or cremation and funeral expenses, or transportation expenses to another province/territory, are covered by another program. Other programs may include, but are not limited to:

  • Workers Compensation Board benefits, if the deceased died due to a work-related accident or occupational disease;
  • Victims of Crime Assistance Program if the deceased is eligible under the Victims of Crime and Public Safety Act;
  • Motor vehicle accident victim benefits for funeral expenses if the deceased is eligible under the Automobile Accident Insurance Benefits Regulation;
  • The Last Post Fund if the deceased was a Canadian Forces veteran; or
  • Any other program where the deceased person meets program eligibility criteria to receive a benefit for the costs of burial or cremation and funeral expenses or transportation.

 

AISH also does not provide a funeral benefit when there is a prepaid funeral where arrangements have been made and paid for prior to the individual passing away.

Notes:

  • Contributions to the funeral provided by non-responsible survivors including family members who are not responsible survivors, friends, religious or community organizations or groups, and crowd sourcing accounts, are not considered when determining eligibility for a funeral benefit.
  • The Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit and life insurance are exempt as income for the AISH program as per Schedule 1.1 of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped General Regulation.

Person Passes Away Outside of Alberta

AISH clients must be ordinarily resident in Alberta as described in the Ordinarily Resident in Alberta policy. The policy also outlines situations where the client is able to be absent from Alberta and continue to receive AISH benefits.

If the client, cohabiting partner, or dependent child passed away while outside of Alberta in one of the situations allowed in the policy, the client is eligible for funeral benefits if all other eligibility criteria are met.

If the deceased will be returned to Alberta for burial or cremation, the benefit for burial or cremation and funeral services in Alberta may be issued up to the applicable benefit rate for a burial or cremation within Alberta.

If the client will be buried in a province/territory other than Alberta, a transportation benefit will not be provided for the remains to be transported from the place of death to another province/territory other than Alberta.


Application Process for Funeral Benefits

Section 36 of the Funeral Services General Regulation sets out who is responsible for making arrangements based on their relationship to the deceased individual. This list is in order of priority and the highest listed person on the list has the right to make funeral arrangements. If the person who has the right to make arrangements is not available, or is unwilling to, the right passes to the next person on the list.

All funeral benefits applications are processed by the Health and Funeral Benefit (HFB) unit. The application for funeral benefits is located on the Funeral Benefits website at:
alberta.ca/funeral-benefits.aspx

The application guides linked on the website provide guidance to the family and friends of the deceased individual to assist with determining who is responsible for making arrangements.

The available individual or organization who is making arrangements, in accordance with Section 36 of the Funeral Services General Regulation is generally the person responsible for submitting the application for funeral benefits.

Preapproval of the benefit, where the applicant is informed by the program of the deceased individual meeting eligibility requirements, is encouraged prior to payment being made to the funeral service provider. This ensures the individual making the arrangements on behalf of the deceased individual is fully aware of whether the deceased will be eligible and what is covered.

However, retroactive funeral benefits may be provided up to six months after the services if all of the eligibility criteria would have been met at the time. In determining eligibility in this situation, the assets of the client and any applicable responsible survivor at the time of death are reviewed to determine if the personal benefit requirement of $5,000 or less in non-exempt assets was met.

In order to receive preapproval, the applicant should submit the application as early in the process as possible so that the program can determine if the eligibility criteria have been met and notify the applicant of the approval or denial.

Note: Notification of preapproval will be issued to the applicant indicating the type of funeral benefit that has been approved and the authorized amount, up to the maximum rates, or the actual reasonable cost for transportation of remains based on the estimate provided for transportation.

Once approved, payment will be issued when the Funeral Benefits – Payment Direction form, final quotes/invoices and death certificate or Funeral Director’s Statement of Death is received.

Consent to Disclose Persona Information

The application form includes a consent section to allow the applicant to name people and organizations, such as a family member or a funeral service provider, to receive information about to the status of the funeral benefits application, via a telephone inquiry.

The consent is valid for the period of time that the funeral benefits application is being processed and expires when a final decision on the application has been received or the application is withdrawn.

The consent can be revoked, at any time, in writing.

 

Payment Direction

Typically, benefits will be issued directly to the service provider(s) as a third party payment. A Funeral Benefits – Payment Direction form is used to confirm where the payment(s) should be sent, such as a funeral home and/or a cemetery.

Note: Cemetery fees are generally paid directly to the cemetery as the entity providing the service, and should be invoiced separately from funeral service provider fees. In cases where a cemetery does not have the ability to collect these fees, and relies on the funeral service provider to collect on their behalf, a funeral service provider may be paid the cemetery fees to coordinate payment.

This form may be submitted with the appropriate documentation, at the time of application, in anticipation of a positive eligibility decision, or submitted after the benefit has been approved.

If the applicant is the cohabiting partner of the deceased individual or the parent of a deceased dependent child, the payment may be issued directly to the applicant, at their request. In this situation, the applicant will be responsible for arranging payment to service providers.


RATE

When the remains of the deceased individual are being buried or cremated in Alberta, the rates for funeral goods and services and cemetery expenses are:

  • the actual cost up to a maximum of $4,000 for cremation and funeral when the remains are not placed in a cemetery; or
  • the actual cost up to a maximum of $6,000 for cremation or burial when the remains are placed in a cemetery.


When the remains of the deceased individual are being transported to another province or territory for burial or cremation outside of Alberta:

  • The actual cost of preparing the remains prior to shipping, including embalming, a hermetically sealed casket (if required), or other approved metal container.
  • Actual reasonable cost of transportation by road and/or by airfreight. Least cost alternative will be considered when determining the mode of transportation.


The maximum benefit rates for burial or cremation in Alberta are set by Ministerial Order. Typically these rates cannot be exceeded.

In exceptional and necessary circumstances where the maximum benefit rate is insufficient, additional amounts may be provided based on the request and related substantiation:


Exceptions for High Cemetery Costs

If the required cemetery costs exceed $2,000 and the total requested benefit amount exceeds the maximum of $6,000, the additional cemetery costs will be paid as an exception. In these situations:

  • the applicant will not need to request an exception;
  • final quotes/invoices will be sufficient to substantiate the need; and
  • this exception applies to:
    • a single cemetery plot;
    • cemetery perpetual fees;
    • grave opening and closing fees (plus winter fee); and
    • a grave liner.


All Other Exception Requests

All other requests to exceed the benefit maximums will be considered on a case by case basis by the appropriate delegated authority. Examples may include:

  • additional costs due to health and/or safety reasons; or
  • a reasonable amount for an honorarium for a religious, cultural or spiritual leader.


An exceptional amount may be requested by the applicant after approval for a funeral benefit has been obtained and arrangements are finalized or at the time of application, if all of the required documents are available.

The following criteria are considered for these requests:

  • The burial or cremation and funeral expenses cannot be met by the maximum rate due to extraordinary circumstances;
  • The expenses are considered necessary and essential for cremation or burial and funeral services;
  • There are no other means to pay; and
  • The least cost alternative is considered.


A decision for a benefit in excess of the rates is not appealable.


DELEGATED AUTHORITY

HFB Assessor – eligibility for a funeral benefit, including reimbursement for expenses not authorized in advance.

Senior Manager, AISH Delivery Services – for a financial hardship asset limit exception.

Senior Manager, Common Service Delivery (CSD) – for cremations or burials exceeding the maximum benefit rate.


Substantiation

Required documentation

  • Proof of identification of the applicant

Documentation depending on situation

  • Estimate of shipping costs if requesting transportation to another province/territory
  • Proof of denial from the other program if the deceased may have been eligible for funding from that program
  • Documents identifying the deceased had a prepaid funeral
  • 30 day bank statement for the Responsible Survivor(s) as proof of income source, the amount of income and their liquid assets

Required documentation if approved for a funeral benefit

  • Invoices of funeral and burial or cremation expenses or transportation expenses
  • Funeral Director’s Statement of Death or Official Death Certificate
  • Funeral Benefits - Payment Direction form, which is included with the approval letter

Required documentation if requesting an exceptional amount not related to high cemetery costs

  • Funeral Benefits – Request for an Exceptional Amount
  • Itemized final quotes/invoices and other relevant documents showing all of the funeral costs, as well as any additional fees, associated with this request. Note: Substantiation documents are required to support this request for additional funds. of the funeral.