Help paying for burial: requests rise in states with high COVID deaths

May 14, 2020

The death of a loved one can be emotionally draining. For many Americans, it’s financially draining, too. In states hardest hit by COVID-19, 2-1-1s are seeing it firsthand. Since the pandemic began, some 2-1-1s have seen a rise in calls requesting help paying for funeral, burial, or memorial services. Typically, these requests are uncommon at 2-1-1s, but have increased greatly in New Jersey (+783%), Massachusetts (+154%), Connecticut (+128%), Maryland (+70%) and Michigan (+26%), all states ranking in the top 11 for COVID deaths and death rates in the U.S. Depending on where you live in Michigan, eligible low-income individuals can receive $475 to $1,500 to help with burial costs during COVID-19. 2-1-1 operators in Michigan say they’ve received a lot of calls about burial expenses, even though the available resources often aren’t enough to even cover the costs of cremation, the least expensive option. Analyses compared death-related requests pre-COVID (January 1 to March 11, 2020) to post-COVID (March 12 – May 13).

Contributors: Rachel Garg, Balaji Golla, Irum Javed, Matthew Kreuter