Medicare does not cover funeral expenses. The fact is that Medicare coverage ends when your life comes to an end, in a manner of speaking.

USA Life Insurance Services said the typical funeral cost in 2021 was $9,135.2. However, that number can vary greatly depending on the chosen funeral home, the service type, and the location. Plus, many people choose to make additional funeral arrangements, such as flowers or memorial services.

What are some typical funeral costs?

Funeral costs may include embalming, casket, burial vaults, pickup of body, hearse, cost of plot or crypt, and cremation.

What is the Social Security death benefit?

If you receive Social Security death benefits, they might be used to cover funeral expenses. It’s doubtful that the payment will be substantial. If your spouse or kid survives you and meets specific criteria, they will receive $255 in a lump sum.

Your spouse will most likely receive the death payment if you still live together when you pass away. Suppose you aren’t living together at the time of your death. In that case, your spouse may be eligible for the money if they have received Social Security benefits on your account.

If you die without a spouse, your money may be transferred to your children if they are eligible for benefits on your record the month of your death.

This money should be paid out as soon as the Social Security Administration reports the death. However, because burial services generally take place very quickly, there’s a chance this cash won’t arrive in time.

Suppose you pass away, and your spouse or child is eligible but does not receive compensation. In that case, they must apply for the death payment within two years of your passing.

Notifying Medicare of a death

You would contact Social Security if you wanted to report the death of a Medicare recipient. If the beneficiary received Railroad Retirement Benefits, you must notify the Railroad Retirement Board of their death.

After the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services have confirmed the beneficiary’s death, They will report any private insurers.

Medicare and Social Security are linked so that both government programs may be alerted with a single contact to the Social Security Administration.

A funeral home representative may be able to manage this activity for you. To make the request, whoever calls must know the deceased’s Social Security Number.

Canceling Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plans after death

After you notify Medicare of the death, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will tell your loved one’s Medicare Advantage or Part D plan.

They’ll be disenrolled from the program on the first day of the month after their death. This implies that if someone dies on March 5th, they will be disenrolled from the insurance policy on April 1st.

Canceling Medicare Supplement plans after death

Many have Medigap coverage in addition to Medicare. Notifying Social Security of the death does not cancel Medicare Supplements.

You must notify the carrier, which may require documentation and proof. You can find all the information you need to contact each plan provider on the insurance cards.

If you’re unsure of their Medigap insurance, check their bank statements for recurring payments to see what carriers they utilize. If you and the deceased didn’t live in the same house, you could have their mail sent to your home instead.

Help with funeral costs

Each state handles funeral assistance differently. Each state, however, has its own budget and funeral rules. However, you can always contact the state Department of Health or the county coroner for assistance.

The Government Department of Health & Human Services may give burial to impoverished people. You must apply for aid through your county’s health department.

Some states don’t provide funeral assistance. However, there may be local or county aid available. Funeral assistance varies from state to state. However, no matter where you reside, burial guidelines offer your family peace of mind during a difficult time.

Burial funds

A burial fund is a sum of money to pay for funeral or burial expenses. You can typically save up to $1,500 towards a funeral. In some states, you can work directly with a funeral home to prepay your burial.

VA benefits

If you are a veteran, the Veterans Affairs Administration may assist pay for your burial. Suppose the death isn’t connected to military service. In that case, your family may get $300 in burial money as well as $807 for a grave.

Surviving loved ones can get $2,000 in compensation for a service-related death. Veterans can receive a gravesite and headstone at a national VA cemetery for free.

Final expense insurance

One option for help with burial expenses is a Final Expense policy. Life insurance is always cheaper when you start it at a younger age.

Fortunately, there are some products specifically for the senior market. Some of these policies guarantee to accept you no matter your health conditions.

A Final Expense policy will help offset any funeral costs that you see fit up to the death benefit.


Does Medicare cover cremation?

No, Medicare doesn’t cover cremation.

Does Medicare cover a burial plot?

No, Medicare only covers medical expenses.

Can I get a headstone from the VA?

Yes, the VA will provide a headstone for free at any national cemetery.

What is a Payable on Death Account?

A payable-on-death account is an account that transfers to the named beneficiary after your death. The account funds will prioritize directives in your last will and testament.

Do I need to contact Social Security after my relative dies?

Yes, you’ll need to notify Social Security of the death. Notifying Social Security of the death does not cancel Medicare Supplements.

What if I don’t have a copy of the deceased’s Medigap insurance card?

If you’re unsure of their Medigap insurance, check their bank statements for recurring payments to see what carriers they have.

Need questions answered about your Medicare coverage?

Although Medicare doesn’t cover funeral costs, it covers much to keep you alive before that time. If you want to further your coverage, consider a Medicare Supplemental plan.

Our licensed insurance agents are wholly knowledgeable in everything related to Medicare — plus the related Medigap plans — so you’ll receive the help you need to make the right personal choice.

Give us a call today. Or fill out our online request form to receive the best rates in your area.

Written By:
Picture of the author
Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare editor for She's been contributing to many well-known publications since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.
Reviewed By:
Picture of the expert
Rodolfo Marrero, Rodolfo Marrero is one of the co-founders at He has been helping consumers find the right coverage since the site was founded in 2013. Rodolfo is a licensed insurance agent that works hand-in-hand with the team to ensure the accuracy of the content.