August 12, 2011

Too broke to bury the poor dead

Illinois is so broke, it can't afford to bury its poor dead.

Illinois officials sent a letter to more than 600 funeral directors around the state to let them know there's no money for funerals for individuals on public assistance.

In the past, the state has reserved about $13 million to help pay for an estimated 12,000 funerals for individuals who relied on public aid. Participating funeral homes were alloted $1,100 for funerals and $552 for the burial.

The Illinois Department of Human Services letter said it can only guarantee payments for pauper funerals through August 15.

Funeral directors have been advised to look for money from city or county governments, and to advise families in morgues until funding can be secured.

"Now the only viable option --- I don't mean to make light of it -- is to leave the body at the medical examiner office,"  Szykowny said. "After 60 to 90 days they'll take the body to what's called a potter's field and bury it in a numbered grave.
Posted by Jill Fallon at August 12, 2011 10:35 AM | Permalink