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HomeCommunityON ServicesIncreased Burial Assistance benefit now available for enrolled Osage Nation members

Increased Burial Assistance benefit now available for enrolled Osage Nation members

For the Nation’s Burial Assistance Program, eligibility includes a completed application and membership with the Osage Nation during the time of death.

The Osage Nation is now offering an increased burial assistance benefit with an $8,000 cap for each enrolled Osage.

During the 2022 Hun-Kah Session, the Seventh ON Congress passed bill ONCA 22-52 (sponsored by Congressman Eli Potts) amending the burial assistance fund law to increase the maximum benefit amount from $5,000 to $8,000 per death. In addition during that session, Congress also passed bill ONCA 22-62 (sponsored by Congressman Scott BigHorse) to appropriate $500,000 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to supplement the burial assistance fund.

The increased burial assistance benefit is now available as of June 9, according to a statement from the Nation. The Burial Assistance Program provides financial assistance upon the death of an enrolled ON member, regardless of residence.

“As our people continue to experience the negative effects of the (COVID-19) public health emergency, we are thankful to increase the financial assistance for burial expenses,” said Andrea Kemble, director of the Financial Assistance Department. “The increase comes as a relief to our people in their most difficult time.”   

During the Hun-Kah Session, Potts told the Congressional Government Operations Committee the burial assistance maximum amount has sat at $5,000 since October 2013 and its earlier maximum amount was $3,500 per death. Also, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill, the National Funeral Directors Association reported in 2021 that the median cost of an adult funeral service with viewing and ceremony followed by burial in this region is $7,334 and the national median was $7,848.

Congress unanimously passed ONCA 22-52 on April 14 and ONCA 22-62 followed after BigHorse and Executive Branch officials spoke about increased burial costs for applications going forward for the remainder of the 2022 fiscal year.

Before the April 20 unanimous “yes” vote on ONCA 22-62, BigHorse said “Executive (branch) crunched the numbers and I communicated with (Kemble) via email, and she agreed that this money is very much needed with the increase of (ONCA 22-52) and I’m just thankful we’re able to take care of our people.”

According to the Nation’s statement, the $500,000 supplemental funding for burial assistance “is being used pursuant to the U.S. Treasury Department’s Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds Final Rule, which allows for emergency burial assistance for households and populations facing negative economic impacts due to COVID-19. This temporary funding will be used until depleted or to the expiration of the ARPA program period.”

For the Nation’s Burial Assistance Program, eligibility includes a completed application and membership with the Osage Nation during the time of death. Membership must be verified through the ON Membership/CDIB office prior to approval for burial assistance.

Allowable expenses under the Burial Assistance Program include:

  • Payment for the actual cost of the burial or cremation;
  • Payment of, or reimbursement for advance payment, costs for burial or cremation services;
  • Payment of, or reimbursement for, headstones, cemetery monuments or markers, or cremation urns;
  • Payment of, or reimbursement for, verified costs incurred for last rites, flowers, receptions, meals, and/or blankets not to exceed the amount remaining after payment of other items in this section have been paid for.
  • Itemized receipts for advance payment of any of the following: last rites, flowers, receptions, funeral feast, blankets.

For more information about the Osage Nation Burial Assistance Program, please visit www.osagenation-nsn.gov/services/constituent-services/burial-assistance

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Benny Polaccahttps://osagenews.org
Benny Polacca started at the Osage News in 2009 as a reporter and has covered various stories and events impacting the Osage Nation and Osage people. Polacca is part of the News team awarded the Native American Journalist Association’s Elias Boudinot Free Press Award in 2014 and other NAJA Media Awards and SPJ Oklahoma Pro Chapter awards for news coverage and photography. Polacca is an Arizona State University graduate and participated in the former American Indian Journalism Institute at the University of South Dakota. He previously worked at The Forum newspaper covering the Fargo, N.D. region as the weeknight reporter.
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