To ensure funeral homes and cemeteries receive reimbursement for services provided to eligible low-income residents, Assembly Democrats Cleopatra Tucker, Ralph Caputo and Raj Mukherji sponsor legislation aiding the Department of Human Services (DHS) for this purpose. The measure unanimously passed the full Assembly Monday.
The bill (A-6060) would help with a portion of reimbursements provided to funeral homes for funeral, burial and crematory services given to eligible individuals in the Work First New Jersey (WFNJ) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. The legislation would appropriate $8 million to increase payments for eligible individuals by an additional $1,000 per person.
WFNJ is a welfare reform program that provides temporary cash assistance and other services to residents in need of support while SSI provides income to elderly residents and residents with disabilities. Participants in these programs may be eligible for public assistance funds to help pay for a portion of their funeral and burial expenses.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many low-income families have become overburdened by these expenses. This legislation would help provide relief for families during their time of need.
Upon the legislation advancing, Assemblywoman Tucker, Assemblyman Caputo (both D-Essex), and Assemblyman Mukherji (D-Hudson) issued the following joint statement:
“Every family, regardless of their financial situation, deserves to be able to bury their loved one with dignity when the time comes. Our state’s funeral reimbursement program is intended to help many eligible residents afford funeral expenses so that they can focus on honoring their loved one’s memory rather than scrambling to find money for those services.
“However, with the increasing cost of funerals, funeral homes and cemetery operators are left without proper reimbursement for their services. This legislation is a step in the right direction to ensuring this program receives the appropriate funding to enable funeral service providers to continue to offer these critical services to low-income families.
“We will continue to work with funeral home directors and the Governor’s office to find ways to ensure this important program is able to ensure families who need the support during one of the most difficult moments of their lives will have it.”