Understanding Funeral Expenses for Pensioners: Leveraging Centrelink Support

Understanding Funeral Expenses for Pensioners: Leveraging Centrelink Support

Navigating the loss of a spouse is an emotionally challenging journey, and when coupled with the financial strain of funeral expenses for pensioners, the burden can become overwhelming. Particularly for those relying on Centrelink benefits, understanding available support becomes crucial.

The Cost of Death report by Australian Seniors unveils a stark reality – nearly a third (32%) of Australian families face financial hardship after covering funeral expenses. Recovery from this debt often takes at least six months. In such scenarios, pensioners dealing with the loss of a partner may find relief through government assistance, including bereavement and pension payments facilitated by Centrelink.

This comprehensive guide aims to empower Australian pensioners by elucidating the benefits they may be entitled to following the loss of a spouse. The guide covers:

1. How Funeral Costs Affect Pensioners

Understanding that funerals come with a significant price tag is crucial. The average cost of an Australian funeral is approximately $4,315 according to finder.com.au. When a loved one passes unexpectedly, families often feel pressured to arrange a funeral hastily, resorting to traditional choices that can be both time-consuming and expensive.

Historically, the funeral industry has profited by upselling grieving families on premium caskets, elaborate catering packages, and other non-essential services. This practice has perpetuated a sense of shame in families attempting to keep funeral costs manageable. Despite this financial strain, it's essential to ponder whether an expensive funeral is truly worth the potential financial hardship.

2. Settling Funeral Expenses

Upon finalising funeral arrangements with a funeral provider, there are various payment options available. If the deceased had a prepaid funeral plan, funeral bond, or funeral insurance, these provisions could cover most, if not all, of the funeral costs. For those without such provisions, Centrelink allowances can provide financial assistance.

3. Centrelink Offered Benefits

Pensioners may be eligible for Centrelink bereavement payments and additional government assistance. The Australian federal government offers various payments and financial support services administered through The Department of Human Services.

Centrelink bereavement payments include:

  • Partner Allowance: Eligible if currently receiving a Partner Allowance, providing an additional 14 weeks of the deceased spouse's pension.
  • Pension Bonus Bereavement Payment: A lump sum payment available to the surviving partner of a Pension Bonus Scheme member.
  • Carer’s Allowance: If the surviving partner was providing additional daily care for the deceased, they may be entitled to a further 14 weeks of pension.

Note: Centrelink entitlements can change, so contacting the nearest Centrelink office at 132 300 is advised for the latest information.

4. External Ways to Support you with Funeral Costs

Apart from Centrelink, pensioners may explore allowances through the Department of Veterans Affairs, insurance companies, private health funds, and unions. Specific eligibility criteria apply, necessitating individual checks.

Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Bereavement Payment: Available to spouses, dependants, or carers of a deceased person receiving a pension from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Early Release of Super

In some circumstances, pensioners can access their superannuation early for funeral costs under specified compassionate grounds or severe financial hardship. Contacting the super fund or organizations like Supercare for guidance is recommended.

5. Government Funeral Support

Certain states in Australia offer funeral assistance schemes for families facing financial constraints. Stricter criteria apply, and individuals should contact the respective state bodies for specific requirements.

Funeral Assistance in Different States

  • Victoria: Bereavement Assistance provides dignified funeral services for low-income Victorians.
  • Queensland: Funeral assistance is available by applying to the Queensland Magistrates Court or the Coroners Court.
  • New South Wales: Destitute funerals for those unable to pay, administered by NSW Health.
  • South Australia: Funeral Assistance SA offers help to those unable to pay for funeral costs.
  • Western Australia: The Bereavement Assistance Program aids individuals unable to cover funeral costs.
  • Tasmania: Essential Care Funeral Policy manages publicly funded direct cremations for those unable to pay.
  • Northern Territory: Indigent Persons Funeral Scheme provides financial assistance for funerals in certain circumstances.

GoFundMe and Other Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding through platforms like My Cause and Go Fund Me can also be explored as a non-traditional means to cover funeral costs.

6. Prepaid funerals

As new service options emerge, Australians are increasingly taking control of their futures by prepaying their funerals. This proactive approach allows individuals to articulate their wishes in advance, ensuring a dignified farewell while also mitigating financial strain for their families. Prepaid funerals lock in current prices, guaranteeing that, regardless of when the service is needed, there will be no additional costs.

Funera Sydney offers prepaid cremations that cater to the specific needs of Australian families. To learn more, call (02) 9954 6655. Beyond prepaid options, Funera Sydney provides at-need services, conducting cremations affordably and efficiently. This allows families to plan personalized memorials without breaking the bank.

In times of grief, it's essential not to succumb to financial pressure. Funera Cremation was established to make basic funeral arrangements affordable for Australian families, eliminating the need to add further financial stress during such a challenging period. Seek emotional support if needed, reach out to the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement at 1800 642 066 or Lifeline at 13 11 14. Remember, help is available, and financial burdens can be alleviated with careful planning and informed choices.

    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop