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Published Date: May 04, 2012

2012-05-04 Funeral Benefits

AUTHORITY

ISTHB Regulation, Schedule 4, Section 25
Ministerial Order No. 2012-028

INTENT

To ensure deceased persons are given a proper burial or cremation where the estate or responsible survivors are unable to pay for funeral services.

POLICY

The Income Support (IS) program provides basic funeral services for indigent persons who die or are transported to Alberta for a burial. Basic funeral services are provided for under an Agreement with funeral homes in Alberta.

A funeral home that agrees to provide this service must:

  • be licensed by the Alberta Funeral Service Regulatory Board. 
  • abide by Funeral Services Agreements terms and conditions.
  • have funeral expenses pre-authorized by an IS representative.
  • Funeral homes that have signed the new agreement and are listed at 2011-2013 Funeral Homes can provide funeral services and funds are issued according to the new Funeral Fee Schedule A.
  • Funeral homes that are members of an association as listed at 2009-2010 Funeral Services Association and Funeral Homes, can provide funeral services and funds are issued according to the Funeral Fee Schedule A.

    Note
    If a funeral home business requesting authorization is not on the approved list of vendors, no authorization is given. The funeral home should be directed to:

    Director, Business Operations, 
    Human Services, 
    780-415-2206

A list of approved funeral homes and the Agreement services, terms and conditions must be reviewed prior to funeral service authorization.

The Agreement contains:

  • all applicable definitions, such as: indigent, estate, responsible survivor, and basic funeral services.
  • funeral home services and responsibilities.
  • specific details about what is covered.
  • the rates IS pays for basic funeral services.

IS pays only for the goods and services specified in the funeral Schedule of Fees. The funeral home business and IS workers should become familiar with the terms and conditions of the Agreement.

The following documents are required prior to authorization and processing of funeral benefits:

  1. A completed DS3851/AEHB 2563A Application/Invoice for Funeral Expenses from the funeral home.
  2. DS 3852/AEHB 2598 Request for Estimate – Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit completed by the federal government CPP program.

If a body is to be transported outside Alberta but within Canada, an Area or Site Manager must approve the application. Transporting of a body outside of Canada is not authorized.

Eligibility
Eligibility is based on the financial resources available in the estate of the deceased, which includes but is not limited to:

  • Canada Pension Plan (CPP) death benefit
  • Cash or bank accounts of the deceased
  • Final OAS/GIS or CPP and other pension cheques
  • Property which may be sold by the estate or borrowed against to cover funeral costs
  • Last Post Fund if the deceased was an Armed Forces veteran
  • Debts owed to the estate
  • Section B insurance benefit if death was caused by an insured motor vehicle
  • Life insurance policy

If the combined available resources with applicable cash/liquid asset exemptions are enough to pay for basic funeral costs, IS does not cover the funeral expenses.

Note
If the amount of the CPP death benefit is insufficient to cover the total cost of the funeral, then it is not used as a financial resource/deduction to offset the total funeral cost. IS has a shared service agreement with Service Alberta for the collection of debts owned to IS, including the collection of CPP Death Benefits.

If there is a responsible survivor (legal spouse/partner, legal parent of a child under 18 years old or a sponsor of an immigrant), the income and assets of the responsible survivor are considered as a potential resource. IS does not pay any funeral expenses if the responsible survivor refuses to pay or refuses to provide the information substantiating their inability to pay. Responsible survivors are not allowed to top-up or enhance any funeral services including basic funeral benefits IS provides.

If the responsible survivor has non-exempt resources then IS will pay the difference between the basic funeral services rates as specified in the Agreement and any non-exempt assets and income of the responsible survivor.

Only the excess cash/liquid assets and income of the responsible survivor after exemption may be used to offset the basic funeral expenses. The exemptions are as follows:

  • $1,500 cash/liquid assets for a responsible survivor without dependants or
  • $2,500 cash/liquid assets for a responsible survivor with dependants and
  • $5,000 equity in vehicle(s) and
  • a home of reasonable value for the community in which the responsible survivor lives and
  • $1,000 income for a responsible survivor without dependants or
  • $2,500 income for a responsible survivor with dependants

    Note
    If a responsible survivor is receiving income support from IS, AISH or Children and Youth Services, no income or assets are used when calculating the available resources.

Top Ups, Upgrades or Enhancements to Basic Funeral Services
Responsible survivors (legal spouse/partner, legal parent of a child under 18 years old or sponsor of an immigrant) are not allowed to enhance the basic funeral benefits IS provides. Any individual or group except for responsible survivors may make a financial contribution toward enhancement of any funeral services. This contribution is not considered a financial resource to off-set the total funeral cost.

Non-responsible survivors are not required to cover the cost of the basic funeral service.  However, there may be situations where a non-responsible survivor would like to upgrade the funeral services. In these cases IS pays the agreement amount for the basic funeral service and the non-responsible survivor pays the difference. For example, a request for an upgrade to the casket is considered if the non-responsible survivor agrees to pay the difference.

Special Groups
Occasionally, unique situations arise which may not be clearly identified in the Agreement and which may require consultation with an Income Support Specialist, Health Benefits Program Planner (780-415-9432) or Manager (780-415-9431). Some unique situations are outlined below.

Person with No Next of Kin
The Public Trustee must be notified if the deceased has an estate. The Public Trustee will take appropriate action, which may include a request for IS to cover funeral costs. If there is no apparent estate, no contact is made with the Public Trustee.

Public Trustee Clients
The Public Trustee has an agreement with the funeral homes for funeral services at higher rates than the IS agreement. When the Public Trustee administers an estate that is not large enough to pay for a funeral at these higher rates, the Public Trustee will confirm the amount available in the estate and ask the nearest IS worksite to arrange for payment of the funeral.

The amount of the estate is not used as a deduction to offset the total funeral costs. IS through their shared service agreement with Service Alberta will collect the cost of the estate funds from the Public Trustee. Service Alberta must be advised that by the IS worker that the funeral is a Public Trustee funeral so that collection can occur.

Registered/Status First Nations People
If the deceased person has Registered Status under the Indian Act, their Band is responsible for all associated funeral costs. If the deceased was living off reserve, the appropriate Band will be asked to pay for the funeral. If the Band refuses, and the person is deemed indigent, IS will provide basic funeral expenses.

If the deceased person belongs to an out-of-province reserve and the Band refuses funds for funeral costs but wishes the deceased returned for burial, IS pays basic funeral and essential transportation only. The receiving province/territory/Band pays for the burial.

Learners and Their Dependants
When funeral benefits are requested for a deceased Learner or their dependants (spouse/partner or children), the request is referred immediately to the IS Service Centre closest to the residence of the Learner. The IS worksite follows standard policy and procedures to provide the funeral benefits as expediently as possible.

Requests for Disposal of Human Remains
Under the Funeral Act, the Minister of Human Services is designated as the last resort to authorize the disposal of human remains, when no responsible survivor can be located, and no other government body has responsibility for the decision. The Executive Director, Alberta Works Programs is delegated the Minister’s responsibility for these rare requests. Requests must be referred to the Health Benefits Planner (780-415-9432).

Unidentified Deceased Persons
In a rare instance when the identity of a deceased person is not known, the IS program provides basic funeral services in the name of Jane or John DOE. The nearest IS worksite arranges payment for the funeral and burial only. Cremation must not be authorized. For instruction on the payment process in these situations, contact the Health Benefits Planner at 780-415-9432.

Children in Care Under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act
Human Services is responsible for the cost of a funeral if a child dies while in the custody or guardianship of the Director, Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act.

Standard Application Procedures

The funeral service business:

  1. Completes sections 1-4 of the AEHB 2563A Application/Invoice for Funeral Expenses with the estate administrator and/or responsible survivor if it appears that the deceased may be indigent and if the funeral home has a signed agreement with IS.

    Note
    If the funeral home does not have a signed agreement with GoA, contact the Director, Business Operations, Human Services at (780) 415-2206.

  2. Refers the responsible survivor, estate administrator or next of kin to the appropriate IS Service Centre using the following guidelines:

    • the deceased person has an active IS file
    • the worksite serves the area where the person lived at the time of death
    • if no fixed address known – the worksite that serves the area where the person died or is nearest to the funeral service business involved.

  3. Sends the completed and signed AEHB 2563A Application/Invoice for Funeral Expenses to the IS worksite.

  4. Completes the AEHB 2598 Request for Estimate – Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit and faxes it to CPP (780-495-2263) for an estimate of the death benefit. CPP will return the completed form containing the CPP Death Benefit estimate, if any, to the worksite indicated.

  5. Awaits confirmation of payment authorization from an IS worker prior to proceeding with funeral services.

The IS worker:

  1. Reviews the AEHB 2563A Application/Invoice for Funeral Expenses and AEHB 2598 Request for Estimate – Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit to determine if:

    • sections 1-4 on the application have been completed according to the terms of the agreement and the declaration has been signed
    • the CPP death benefit is sufficient to cover the basic funeral costs

    Note
    The maximum CPP Death Benefit for any Canadian is $2500.  If funeral costs are expected to be over $2500, the worker should not wait for confirmation of the CPP Death Benefits before authorizing funeral benefits.

  2. Reviews the approved funeral home listing to ensure the funeral business is an approved vendor.

  3. Completes the AEHB 2563B Funeral Benefits Eligibility Determination working copy of the application in consultation with the party applying for funeral benefits:

    • calculates the total resources available to offset funeral costs excluding the CPP death benefit (if less than the cost of the funeral)
    • deducts the amount paid by the estate and/or responsible survivor(s) from the Total Funeral Costs (A) identified on the AEHB 2563A

  4. Completes section 5 and 6 of the AEHB 2563A application if the deceased is eligible and enters the amount approved in box (B).

  5. Sends the funeral home a copy of the signed and department authorized AEHB 2563A Application/Invoice for Funeral Expenses.

  6. Registers the deceased on CCD if no active IS file exists.

  7. Completes the EMP 3428 Income Support Application leaving the client signature section blank if there is no estate administrator to sign on behalf of the deceased.

  8. Creates a file on LISA

  9. Uses Client Type 82 as applicable.

  10. Records summary information in Mobius Notes.

  11. Files the IS copies of all the documents on section 2 of the IS file.

Procedure for Collection of CPP Death Benefit and Reimbursement from the Public Trustee:
CPP provides a one-time death benefit to the estate of a contributor for the costs associated with a funeral. If there is no estate, the person or party responsible for the funeral expenses is eligible to receive the death benefit.

IS has a shared service agreement with Service Alberta for the collection of debts owed to IS, including the collection of CPP Death Benefits and estate funds that may be available through the Public Trustee.

In all cases when IS pays for the funeral and there is an apparent CPP Death Benefit available or estate funds held by the Public Trustee, the worker:

  1. Compiles the following information:

    • Name, SIN, file number and date of death
    • AEHB 2563A Application/Invoice for Funeral Expenses
    • AEHB 2598 Request for Estimate – Canada Pension Plan Death Benefit
    • Death certificate (copy)
    • Birth certificate (copy) or a copy of other personal identification that verifies the birth date of the deceased (e.g., health card, driver’s license, EMP 3428 Income Support Application signed by the client).

  2. MUST forward, via interoffice mail or fax, the complete package of information within one working day after approval of funeral benefits to:
Mail to:
Service Alberta
Collection Unit
PO Box 11417
Edmonton AB T5J 3E4
Fax:
780-644-2132
Workers should ensure the applicant is aware that they are signing over the CPP Death Benefit to the GoA and that they could be subject to collections by Service Alberta if the CPP Death Benefit is paid out to the applicant in error.

Procedure for Authorization to Transport a Body Outside Alberta Within Canada
If the body is to be transported over 50 km an Area or Site Manager signs the AEHB 2563A Application/Invoice for Funeral Expenses and adds in the Comments box in section 6 the following wording:

“Prior approval given to transport body from
________________ to ________________



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