County considers new indigent burial policy

NORWICH – The Chenango County Department of Social Services (DSS) is moving forward with a new policy that provides financial assistance for funeral services for county residents, helping those who are too impoverished to pay funeral costs for their deceased loved ones.

Chenango County DSS has a general policy that provides a burial assistance grant for indigent persons who die and leave no funds or insurance sufficient enough to pay funeral costs. While the policy has been in place for a number of years, eligibility – currently based on a persons’ income level – is proposed to be based instead on the available resources or asset level of an individual on the date of death, meaning DSS would determine eligibility primarily on what’s in savings and checking accounts, or cash on hand at the time of death.

Changes in the county’s indigent burial policy come subsequent to change in New York State law, which now says income can no longer be used as a factor in determining eligibility for burial assistance, explained DSS Commissioner Bette Osborne. For months, DSS has been in talks with local funeral home directors to draft a new policy – an important collaboration as state law also requires funeral home directors to provide services regardless of one’s ability to pay.

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