Paying for a Funeral
A death can cause emotional and financial problems for survivors. Although it may be a difficult time, it is best to try to keep a level head and plan for how you are going to get through this moment. If you need help on the entire burial process, the Ministry of Health and Social Development has a great resource: A Guide on the Process for Burials in the Virgin Islands.
Preparing your funeral budget
Funerals in the BVI can be very expensive and, as with all other major expenses, you should prepare a budget. If you are organizing a funeral, ask the funeral home director for an itemized and written quote for the services he or she offers. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Try to spend only what you can afford. Here are costs to consider:
- Funeral home fees
- Transport for the body
- Death certificate
- Burial certificate
- Burial/ cremation
- Cemetery plot
- Funeral booklets and other printed materials
- Food for family coming from overseas to attend funeral
- Other expenses, such as a clergy, flowers, radio announcements and the wake
If you have worked in the BVI for more than six months and have been paying Social Security, you may qualify for a funeral grant from the Social Security Board. A funeral grant is a one-time payment intended to assist with the funeral expenses of an insured person (a person who has been paying their Social Security), the wife or husband of an insured person, or a dependent child of an insured person. The dependent child must be under 15 years unless they are in full-time education in which case they must be under 21.
To qualify for a funeral grant, the insured person must have paid 26 weeks of contributions (6 months). The amount of a funeral grant depends on the age of the deceased:
- If the deceased is one year old or less ...........................................up to $450.00
- If the deceased is older than one year, but not more than 15 years............... up to $1,950.00
- If the deceased is older than 15 years.............................................................up to $3,000.00
To claim for a funeral grant, a Funeral Grant Claim Form must be completed and submitted to the Social Security office within six months of the death. The death certificate and receipts for funeral expenses or the undertakers’ bill for outstanding funeral expenses must be submitted with the claim form. You can advise the Social Security Board to pay the funeral grant directly to the funeral home. The person entitled to a funeral grant, however, is the person who has paid or who is responsible for paying the funeral expenses. Insured persons who have paid 26 contributions will receive a funeral grant wherever they are in the world.
If you do not meet the conditions for a funeral grant from the Social Security Board, but you require assistance with expenses, you may also apply to the Social Development Department or directly to the Ministry of Health and Social Development.