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Published Date: January 01, 2023

2023-01-01 Funeral Benefits for Income Support Households

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)
Ministerial Order 2022-003 Funeral Benefits

INTENT

To describe what funeral benefits may be provided to eligible household units, 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 outlined in the Supplementary Benefits policy must be met.

Funeral benefits are available to eligible members of an Income Support household unit. 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.


Other Low Income Albertans

When the deceased was a low income Albertan, but not actively receiving Income Support, see the following policy for eligibility and substantiation requirements:

  • Funeral Benefits for Low Income Albertans


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 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.


The financial resources of a responsible survivor would have been considered during the eligibility determination for Income Support benefits. There is no need to reconfirm financial eligibility.

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 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

Additional resources may become available to the estate or a responsible survivor upon the death of a household member. These resources are treated as follows:

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 for a Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit (ISP1200) 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.

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:

  • Workers Compensation Board benefits, if the deceased died due to a workplace injury;
  • 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;
  • A First Nation band that has a program or policy to pay for the burial or cremation and funeral expenses of its members; 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. 

Income Supports also does not provide funeral benefits in the following circumstances:

  • If there is a prepaid funeral where arrangements have been made and paid for prior to the individual passing away; and
  • If there is a life insurance policy, or policies, where the value of the benefit is equal to or greater than the applicable funeral benefit rate;
  •  If there is a life insurance policy, or policies, where the value of the benefit is equal to or greater than the applicable funeral benefit rate;
    •  If the beneficiary of the life insurance policy is someone other than the estate of the deceased or a responsible survivor, the benefit is not considered when determining eligibility.

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.

Client Passes Away Outside of Alberta

If a client, or member of a household unit, was temporarily outside of Alberta (e.g. on a job search or visiting family) at their time of passing, they may be eligible for funeral benefits if all other eligibility criteria are met.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 cremation 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 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.

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 $4,240 for cremation and funeral when the remains are not placed in a cemetery; or
  • the actual cost up to a maximum of $6,360 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 $2,120 and the total requested benefit amount exceeds the maximum of $6,360, 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


Documentation depending on situation

  • Estimate of shipping costs if requesting transportation to another province/territory
  • Completed “Request for Estimate – CPP Death Benefit” form, unless the CPP Death Benefit has already been applied for prior to submitting the Funeral Benefits Application
  • 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
  • The value of a life insurance policy for the deceased individual if the estate or a responsible survivor was the beneficiary
  • 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 the request. Note: Substantiation documents are required to support this request for additional funds.

 

PROCEDURE

IS Worker:

  1. When advised of the death of a client, spouse/partner or dependent child, reviews the Deceased Clients policy to take appropriate action.
  2. If a next of kin making funeral arrangements has not yet applied for funeral benefits, provides information on the location of the IS Funeral Benefits Application on the SCSS website.
  3. When necessary, assists the applicant by answering questions about the application process.

 

HFB Assessor:

Part 1 – Initial Assessment

  1. Notifies the IS office that an IS client, spouse/partner or dependent child has passed away.
  2. Reviews the application 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. Are there other programs available to cover the cost of the funeral?
    4. Did the deceased have a prepaid funeral?
    5. Did the deceased have life insurance policies where the value of the benefit is equal to or greater than the requested funeral benefit rate?
    6. 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 conditions that support the issuing of the benefit.
    3. 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 a Funeral Benefits – Payment Direction form is required along with finalized quotes/invoices and a statement of death.
    2. 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, the 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.

    3.  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 Benefits – Request for an Exceptional Amount form including explaining the circumstances of why additional funds are necessary and essential.

      Note: the Funeral Benefits – 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.

      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.

  4. 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 Plots
    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 and the applicant:

    a. 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.
    b. 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.



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