“We are able to offer monetary assistance that is paid directly to the funeral home to help with the cost of burial.” – MCN Social Services Program Manager Erin Saltsman
Services available for citizens in jurisdiction, at-large
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — When somebody loses a loved one, a lot of emotions can go through a person.
Not only is the loved one gone, but other things must be done for them such as preparing for the funeral and burial.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation, through its Social Services Department can help with assistance for these situations.
Social Services Program Manager Erin Saltsman spoke about the programs that are offered.
“We are able to offer monetary assistance that is paid directly to the funeral home to help with the cost of burial,” she said.
Those programs are Tribal Burial, Food for Funeral offered in conjunction with the previous service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs Burial.
Tribal Burial is available for all Muscogee (Creek) citizens regardless of where they live. The person who is handling the application for the services of the deceased can come in, call, email or fax their application.
For Tribal Burial, the responsible party, which is usually the person that signs the burial contract has to bring in the tribal card/verification and social security card of the deceased, as well as the signed burial contract.
“Sometimes we are able to work with (MCN) Citizenship to obtain tribal verification if the responsible party does not have it readily available,” Saltsman said.
She also said the responsible party can give written permission for another individual to make the application.
“Sometimes the responsible party is busy and unable to make it our office,” Saltsman said.
Saltsman said the application must be made within one year from the date of death.
She also added that the responsible party is able to do this as long as there is a balance due at the funeral home.
“Anytime we pay for Tribal Burial, there has to be a balance due at the funeral home,” she said. “Some people are under the assumption that we can reimburse them if they go ahead and pay for the funeral.”
Saltsman said Social Services cannot reimburse a citizen because they are only able to pay the funeral home.
“We have to verify that there is a balance due at the time that we assist,” she said.
Saltsman spoke on the Food for Funeral Assistance that is in a partnership with the Tribal Burial program.
“They can get assistance to purchase food for a wake or funeral service,” Saltsman said.
She said the responsible party must purchase the food on or before the day of the funeral.
“Most people apply for both programs simultaneously,” Saltsman said.
Another program that Social Services has is the BIA Burial Program. Although there are some similarities to Tribal Burial, there are differences too.
“For BIA Burial, we can assist all federally recognized tribes that are within our MCN boundaries,” Saltsman said.
With BIA Burial, the application for the deceased must be made within 180 days from the date of death.
The responsible party must sign the original application and submit it to the Social Services office or mail it in.
“The BIA Burial assistance requires more documentation than Tribal Burial,” Saltsman said.
The responsible party has to bring in the tribal card/verification, social security card and signed burial contract similar to Tribal Burial. However, there are other things to bring.
“We have to have the death certificate and residence verification for the deceased,” she said.
There has to be proof that the deceased was living in MCN jurisdiction.
“That is usually a piece of mail, dated within 30 days of the date of death,” Saltsman said.
She said Social Services will have to have income verification of the deceased and if there are resources available.
“We may request documents such as check stubs, insurance policies, burial policies, Individual Indian Monies (IIM) accounts, bank or savings accounts, Social Security, or VA benefits,” Saltsman said. “These documents must be for the date of death.”
The BIA Assistance does have income requirements, while Tribal Burial does not.
Like Tribal Burial, there has to be a balance due at the funeral home and the payment goes directly there.
The person applying for the assistance can choose the funeral home.
“Most of the funeral homes, especially in our boundaries are familiar with the process and familiar with the assistance we provide,” Saltsman said.
For more information regarding the burial programs, contact: 918-549-2445.