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Published Date: November 30, 2022
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08 Supplementary Benefits

Funeral Benefits

Funeral Benefits for Low Income Albertans

Funeral Benefits for Low Income Albertans General Policy

AUTHORITY

Income and Employment Supports Act, section 5(1)(b) and the Schedule, section 10
Income Support, Training and Health Benefits Regulation, Schedule 4, section 25
Funeral Services Act General Regulation, section 36(2)
Cemeteries Act General Regulation, section 12 and section 13
Ministerial Order 2022-003 Funeral Benefits


INTENT

To describe what funeral benefits may be provided to eligible low income Albertans, the eligibility criteria for funeral benefits, the applicable benefit rates, and the delegated authority for decisions. This policy is intended for deceased individuals who were not a member of an Income Support or Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) household unit at the time of their death.

POLICY

Funeral benefits are available to low income Albertans who meet the criteria set out in this policy.

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 of the Deceased individual 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 spouse or other cohabiting partner of the deceased (providing that the deceased and spouse/partner were not separated);
    • a cohabiting partner includes persons in a legal marriage, common-law relationship or any other relationship of interdependence, see the Partners Other Than Spouses policy for more information.
  • the legal parents of a deceased child less than 18 years old, or under the age of 20, and enrolled in an education program under the Education Act; or
  • the legal sponsor of a sponsored immigrant.

Depending on the deceased individual’s situation, there may be more than one responsible survivor.

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.

ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible for funeral benefits, both general and financial eligibility criteria must be met.

General eligibility criteria are related to the deceased individual's residency and status in Canada.

Financial eligibility criteria are related to other potential programs that cover funeral expenses, and the financial resources (income) and assets of the estate and any responsible survivor.

General Eligibility

In order to be eligible for funeral benefits, the deceased individual must be a resident of Alberta and have the following status in Canada:

  • Canadian citizen,
  • Permanent resident,
  • Temporary resident permit holder who has been approved for entry into Canada by the Government of Alberta,
  • Refugee or refugee claimant not receiving financial assistance from the Government of Canada, or
  • A victim of human trafficking as determined by the Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Albertan Passes Away Outside of Alberta

If the deceased individual was a resident of Alberta and was temporarily outside of Alberta (less than one month) at their time of passing, they may be eligible for funeral benefits if all other eligibility criteria are met.

If the deceased individual will be buried in Alberta, the benefit for burial or cremation and funeral services in Alberta may be issued.

If the deceased individual 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.

Financial Eligibility

In order to be eligible for funeral benefits, there must be no other program that provides for a similar benefit. The income/assets of the estate of the deceased individual, and any responsible survivor, must also meet the applicable eligibility criteria.

Note: If the deceased individual is a sponsored immigrant, the income and assets of the sponsor are also assessed to determine eligibility as a responsible survivor. The assessor completes the process outlined in the Immigration Status – Family Class (Sponsored) policy to report the situation the federal government.

If the sponsor has abandoned the deceased individual, their income and assets are not used to determine financial eligibility. The assessor should still proceed with the process to report the situation to the federal government.

Income and assets are considered when determining eligibility for funeral benefits.

Note: If there are multiple responsible survivors, the exemptions detailed below apply for each responsible survivor.

Note: If the responsible survivor is the spouse/partner of the deceased individual, the combined income and assets of the couple receive the applicable exemptions for the responsible survivor.

Other Available Programs

Income Support does not provide funeral benefits if burial or cremation and funeral expenses or transportation to another province/territory are covered by another program. Other programs may include, but are not limited to:

  • A prepaid funeral where arrangements have been made and paid for prior to the individual passing away;
  • Workers Compensation Board benefits, if the deceased died due to a workplace injury;
  • Victims of Crime Assistance Program if the deceased individual is eligible under the Victims of Crime and Public Safety Act;
  • Motor vehicle accident victim benefits for funeral expenses if the deceased individual is eligible under the Automobile Accident Insurance Benefits Regulation;
  • The Last Post Fund if the deceased individual was a Canadian Forces veteran;
  •  A First Nation Band that has a program to pay for the burial or cremation and funeral expenses of its members living off-reserve; or
  • Any other program where the deceased meets program eligibility criteria to receive a benefit for the costs of burial or cremation and funeral expenses, or transportation.


Income Support 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.

Note: 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.

Income

Income is money that becomes available to a household during a monthly benefit period, including but not limited to:

  • employment income;
  • Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan or other pension income; and
  • a life insurance payout.


See the Exempt Income for Responsible Survivors and the Estate of the Deceased policy for information on what income is considered when determining eligibility for funeral benefits.

Any non-exempt income of the estate, and any responsible survivor, will be deducted from the amount of the funeral benefit, after the applicable exemption has been applied:

Estate of the Deceased Individual

Responsible Survivor

In situations where the deceased individual was the single parent of a dependent child(ren) under the age of 18, or under the age of 20, and enrolled in an education program under the Education Act, the following exemption will be applied:

The following exemptions will be applied to any non-exempt income of a responsible survivor. Any remaining non-exempt income will be deducted from the amount of the funeral benefit.

Number of Children

Income Exemption Amounts

1 Child

$750

Each Additional Child

$500

Household Composition

Income Exemption Amounts

Single Adult, no children

$750

Couple, no children

$1,200

For Each Child

$500

If the deceased had multiple dependent children, $500 is added to the initial $750 exemption, for each additional child.

If the household has dependent children, the appropriate exempt amount is added to the applicable single adult or couple amount.

 

Canada Pension Plan – Death Benefit

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) death benefit is a one-time payment from the federal government for $2,500, payable to the estate or other eligible individuals on behalf of a deceased CPP contributor.

The CPP death benefit is considered non-exempt income by the Income Support program.

In order to be eligible to receive funeral benefits, the applicant for funeral benefits must agree to assign the CPP death benefit to Seniors, Community and Social Services (SCSS).

If the CPP death benefit is assigned to SCSS and the value of the funeral benefit issued was less than $2,500, SCSS will only collect the value of the funeral benefit from CPP. The applicant may request the difference by completing an application through Employment and Social Development Canada.

If the applicant has already applied for the CPP death benefit prior to submitting the application for funeral benefits, the potential value of the payment, $2,500, will be reduced from the funeral benefit.

If, after the funeral payment was reduced by the CPP death benefit, the applicant is informed that the deceased individual was not eligible for the CPP death benefit, they can provide substantiation to the HFB Unit and the remaining value of the funeral benefit will be issued at that time.

Life Insurance

Life insurance is considered non-exempt income when the benefit will go to the estate of the deceased individual or to a responsible survivor. The value of the life insurance benefit is treated as non-exempt income for the deceased individual or responsible survivor(s).

If the beneficiary of the policy was someone other than the estate or a responsible survivor, the income is not considered when determining eligibility for funeral benefits.

 


Assets

Assets are valuable items, including, but not limited to:

  • Liquid assets;
  • Real estate;
  • Vehicles; and
  • Other property.

Liquid assets are cash on hand or cash held in a financial institution or by a third party that must be paid on demand, and readily convertible assets such as stocks and bonds.

Full and partial exemptions are provided for certain assets and liquid assets:

Estate of the Deceased individual

Responsible Survivor

Liquid Assets

Generally, any liquid assets held by the estate of the deceased individual will be deducted from the amount of the funeral benefit.

Only in the following situation will an exemption be applied;

  • where the deceased individual was the single parent of a dependent child(ren), under the age of 18, or under the age of 20, and enrolled in an education program under the Education Act:

Liquid Assets

The following exemptions will be applied to any non-exempt liquid assets of a responsible survivor. Any remaining non-exempt liquid assets will be deducted from the amount of the funeral benefit.

Number of Children

Liquid Asset Exemption Amounts

1 Child

$2,500

Every Additional Child

$1,500

Household Composition

Liquid Asset Exemption Amounts

Single Adult

$2,500

Couple

$3,500

For Each Child

$1,500

If the deceased had multiple dependent children, $1,500 is added to the initial $2,500 exemption, for each additional child.

If the household has dependent children, the appropriate exempt amount is added to the applicable single adult or couple amount.

 

Other Assets

Certain other assets are exempt and are outlined in the Exempt Assets for Responsible Survivors and the Estate of the Deceased policy.

If the estate has any non-exempt asset (other than liquid assets), they are not eligible for funeral benefits. See above for the treatment of non-exempt liquid assets.

 

Other Assets

Certain other assets are exempt and are outlined in the Exempt Assets for Responsible Survivors and the Estate of the Deceased policy.

If the estate has any non-exempt asset, they are not eligible for funeral benefits. See above for the treatment of non-exempt liquid assets.

 

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 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 guide linked on the website provides 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 services being completed. This ensures the individual making the arrangements on behalf of the deceased individual is fully aware of whether or not the deceased individual will be eligible and what is covered.

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 up to the maximum rates for burial or cremations less deductions of non-exempt income or liquid assets (if any), or the actual reasonable cost for transportation of remains based on the provided estimate for transportation, less deductions of non-exempt income or liquid assets (if any).

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 Personal 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.

Retroactive Requests

In the event that the invoice is paid in full prior to the application being submitted, it may result in ineligibility for funeral benefits.

The invoice is considered paid if it was paid in full, or, if the total amount of the invoice exceeds the maximum benefit amount, an amount equal to or exceeding the maximum benefit amount has been paid prior to the application being submitted.

However, retroactive benefits will be considered up to 6 months after the expenses were incurred if all eligibility criteria would have been met at the time of the expense and there was an emergency situation, Emergencies are considered on a case-by-case basis by the Assessor. See the Reimbursement for Expenses Not Authorized in Advance section of the Supplementary Benefits policy.

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 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 spouse/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.


Special Groups

See the Special Groups policy for information on unique situations including:

First Nations Persons
Estate with No Administrator
Public Trustee Clients
Requests for Disposal of Human Remains
Unidentified Deceased Persons
Children in Care under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancements Act


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.

Any non-exempt income or liquid assets are deducted from the potential benefit amount.

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.

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


SUBSTANTIATION

Required documentation

  • Proof of identification of the applicant
  • Proof of identification and address of the deceased individual
  • Proof of the deceased individual’s citizenship or status in Canada
  • 30 day bank statement for the deceased individual as proof of the income source, the amount of income and their liquid assets

Documentation depending on situation

  • Estimate of shipping costs if requesting transportation to another province/territory
  • Proof of denial from another program if the deceased may have been eligible for funding from that program
  • Documents identifying the deceased had a prepaid funeral
  • Completed Request for Estimate – CPP Death Benefit form, unless the CPP Death Benefit has already been applied for prior to submitting Funeral Benefit Application
  • The value of the life insurance policy for the deceased individual if the estate or a responsible survivor was the beneficiary
  • Any other verification of income and assets for the deceased individual
  • 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

  • Funeral Director’s Statement of Death or Official Death Certificate.
  • Final quotes/invoices of funeral and burial or cremation expenses or transportation expenses.
  • 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.

PROCEDURE

HFB Administrative Clerk:

  1. Check CCD and generate a PID, as necessary.


HFB Assessor:
Part 1 – Initial Assessment

  1. Uses the Search and Register tool in Mobius to determine if the deceased individual is in the system and, if not, register the deceased as a new client.
  2. Reviews the application form and substantiation documents to determine if the applicant is eligible for the benefit including confirming the following:
    1. Has the applicant’s identity been verified?
    2. Is the applicant the most appropriate person to be making funeral arrangements?
    3. Has the deceased individual’s identity, residency in Alberta, and status in Canada been verified?
    4. Are there other programs available to cover the cost of the funeral?
    5. Did the deceased have a prepaid funeral?
    6. Does the deceased individual have any estate income, liquid assets, or assets available, after exemptions are applied?
    7. If there is a responsible survivor(s), do they have income, liquid assets, or assets available, after exemptions are applied?
    8. Has the declaration been signed?
  3. If the request is for a reimbursement for a burial or cremation or transportation that occurred prior to receiving preapproval for the benefit:
    1. Ensures that the service occurred within the past six months, and
    2. Reviews the paid invoice(s) and the emergency circumstances, as provided by the applicant.
  4. If a decision cannot be made due to missing information:
    1. Records the missing information in Comments.
    2. Sends an Information Missing Letter to the applicant detailing what additional information is required.
    3. Provides a due date of seven days for the missing information to be submitted.
  5. Once additional information is provided, return to Step 2.
  6. If additional information is not provided within the timeline provided, proceed to Step 9 to deny the benefit.
  7. If eligible for the funeral benefit, records the following in Comments:
    1. The type of benefit potentially approved.
    2. The amount of deductions based on the available resources, estate income and liquid assets of the deceased individual and responsible survivor, if applicable.
    3. The conditions that support the issuing of the benefit.
    4. The substantiation or verification provided.
  8. Sends the Approval Letter and Funeral Benefits – Payment Direction form by email, and then by mail, to the applicant who is making funeral arrangements:
    1. The letter advises that they have been initially approved for a funeral benefit and that they must submit a Funeral Benefits – Payment Direction form along with finalized quotes/invoices and a statement of death.
    2. The letter explains the amount of deductions from non-exempt income or liquid assets, if they are applied.
    3. The Funeral Benefits – Payment Direction form provides directions for the applicant to submit the death certificate and the quotes/invoices for payment, and to identify the amounts to be provided to the funeral service provider and, if applicable, cemetery, so that payment can be directed appropriately.

      Note: if the applicant is the spouse/partner or parent of the deceased, they may request to receive the payment directly and arrange their own payments.

      Note: The Funeral Benefits – Payment Direction form may have been submitted with the Application form. If it is complete, including all eligibility criteria have been met and the substantiation requirements have been provided, the approval letter is sent and the Assessor moves to Part 2 Invoice Payment.

    4. The letter will note the applicant may request additional funds in excess of the maximum amounts (when the request is not related to high cemetery costs). The applicant is advised to submit a Funeral Benefit – Request for an Exceptional Amount form including explaining the circumstances of why additional funds are necessary and essential.

      Note: the Funeral Benefit – Request for an Exceptional Amount form and substantiation documents may have been submitted with the Application form. It will be considered in Part 2 – Invoice Payment 

  9. If not eligible,

    1. Records the decision in Comments, including the reason(s) for denial.

  10. Sends out a Denial Letter, by email and then by mail, to the applicant to advise them of the decision, providing the reason(s) for the denial, and advising of the right to provide additional information and to appeal the decision.


Part 2 – Invoice Payment

  1. Reviews the completed Funeral Benefits – Payment Direction form, the final quotes/invoices and the Official Death Certificate or Funeral Director’s Statement of Death.
    1. Confirms that the applicant is the person named on the invoice. This ensures the applicant is the appropriate person to make the funeral arrangements.
  2. If information is missing:
    1. Records the missing information in Comments.
    2. Sends an Information Missing Letter to the applicant detailing what additional information is required.
    3. Provides a due date of seven days for the missing information to be submitted.
  3. Reviews the completed Funeral Benefits – Payment Direction form and final quotes/invoices submitted by the applicant against the approval for funeral benefits:
    1. Arrange payment to the funeral services provider and cemetery (if applicable).

      Note: if the applicant is the spouse/partner or parent of the deceased, they may request to receive the funds directly.

      Note: if a reimbursement request is approved, the applicant may receive the funds directly.

    2. If the invoice is for an amount in excess of the maximum amounts for a burial or cremation, and the applicant requests an exception, collect the information for an exception and submits it to the CSD Manager for consideration.

  4. If the applicant has completed the Funeral Benefits – Request for an Exceptional Amount form and provided substantiation, submits it to the CSD Manager for consideration.  

  5. Records the following in Comments:

    1. The amount of the benefit issued.

    2. The POA the benefit is issued for.

      Note: if a cheque was issued to the applicant and the applicant advises they have not received the cheque or that they provided the incorrect mailing address, see the Stop Payment on Printed Cheques policy.


Central Payment and Data Entry (CPDE) Administrative Clerk:

  1. Generate payment based on the Need Codes provided by the HFB Assessor
    1. 1970 – Funerals – Basic Service
    2. 1971 – Funerals – Transportation
    3. 1975 – Funerals – Cemetery Plot
    4. 1976 – Funerals – Cremation


CSD Manager:

  1. When requested by the applicant, reviews requests for exceptions above the funeral rate for burials or cremations.
  2. Communicates their decision to the HFB Assessor:
    1. If approved, the CSD Manager sends a letter to the applicant to advise them of the decision, providing confirmation of the approval for additional funds, and advising of the right to provide additional information if they do not agree with the amount approved, and explains that the decision is exempt from appeal.
    2. If not approved, the CSD Manager sends a letter to the applicant to advise them of the decision, providing the reason(s) for the denial for additional funds, advising of the right to provide additional information, and explains that the decision is exempt from appeal.