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At Cornerstone Funeral Services we understand your needs and the difficult decisions you will have to make when dealing with a funeral. Making this demanding time a little easier for our families is our primary concern.

In this spirit, we have created this online resource guide that provides information to help you deal with some of the more confounding parts of a funeral today. Please feel free to browse our resources, and contact us for additional information.

social security

veterans benefits


legal information

community links


The following checklist is designed to help you file for your Social Security benefits correctly so that prompt payments may be made.


The deceased worker must have credit for work covered by Social Security, ranging from 1.5 to 10 years depending on his or her age at death.

  • A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.

  • A divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted 10 years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.

  • Unmarried children up to 18 (19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full time).

  • Children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled.

  • Dependent parent or parents 62 or older.

  • A one-time payment of $255 is paid in addition to the monthly cash benefits described above. The lump-sum death payment (LSDP) is paid in the following priority order:

  • A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased person at the time of death.

  • A surviving spouse eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death.

  • A child or children eligible for or entitled to benefits for the month of death.


You must apply in order to receive benefits. You may apply at any Social Security office or, if you wish, you may apply by telephone. Just dial the toll-free number (800) 772-1213 and the operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange for the local Social Security office to take your claim by telephone.


You may call Social Security toll-free, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. The number to use is (800) 772-1213. To speak with a representative, call between the hours of 7:00 am and 7:00 pm on regular business days. At other times and on weekends and holidays, you may leave a message and they will call you back, in most cases, the next business day.

You may use the toll-free number above to make an appointment either in a Social Security office or telephone to apply for benefits, transact other Social Security business, or just ask questions.


Veterans Benefits

Survivors of any person who was an active or retired member of the military at time of death, or an honorably discharged veteran, could be eligible for a number of benefits, including:

  • An American flag (usually drapes the casket).

  • Burial in a National Cemetery.

  • A bronze or granite marker.

  • A lump sum payment of $300 is usually available to families of those veterans that were entitled to receive VA compensation or pension at time of death (such as retirees), or veterans who died while a registered patient in a VA hospital or other accredited VA facility. If one of these circumstance's apply and a National Cemetery is not utilized, up to $300 could be reimbursed as a plot or interment allowance (requires proof of payment to a non-VA cemetery. Private cemeteries usually assist you by filing this benefit in your behalf). For veterans who die of a service connected disability, the VA could pay an allowance to reimburse funeral costs of $2,000 or less (no additional VA death benefits would be available). Active duty military personnel are usually entitled to a greater amount, which can vary. This benefit is usually paid by the Department of Defense.

A surviving spouse is eligible for burial in the National Cemetery. Dependent children of the veteran are also eligible.

Claims for Veteran's Benefits must be filed within 2 years of death by the veteran's family, a non-family member who can prove that the veteran's funeral services are paid, or the funeral director. We will be pleased to make application for these benefits on your behalf if you will provide us with the veteran's Honorable Discharge papers. For VA Assistance and Information, phone (800) 827-1000 or visit their website at



When pre-planning a funeral, all of your thoughts and wishes are planned for. Your family will know what you want, and not what they think you want. At the Cornerstone Funeral Services and Cremation, we'll help you put it in writing. Writing it down will help avoid family disputes, or involvement by others that may not know what your wishes are. Your loved ones won't question: "Did we do the right thing? Did we forget anything? Is this what she/he wanted? Did we spend too much?" All that is eliminated because you put it in writing.

Pre-planning is the first step; this step allows us to gather your vital information and decisions. We will then file this information until the time comes for when it is needed. Many people are considering ways to fund their funeral. If you would choose to do this also, this step will actually allow you to set money aside to be used for your funeral expenses. There are a few ways to approach putting money aside for funeral expenses, so our trained licensed funeral directors can explain all of them to you. Pre-planning along with pre-funding work together because they offer peace of mind. Your survivors will not be burdened with decisions regarding your funeral.


Some families may have a parent or other family member that requires long-term nursing home care. For Medicaid applicants, pre-funding allows for protection from high Nursing Home Costs. Unlike other investments including cash value of traditional life insurance) that you own, the dollars you place into a correctly structured final expense plan will not count as an asset if you enter a nursing home. The full cost of your funeral can be protected using a pre-paid Medicaid trust account.

Cornerstone specializes in assisting families with all Medicaid required Pre-Paid Funeral Arrangements. Our funeral directors are experienced to personally assist you with all County, State and Federal SSI/Social Security rules and regulations. We routinely work directly with families and the Department of Social Services caseworkers to ensure proper Medicaid funeral approval. New York State requires all contracts for Medicaid applicants or recipients have their funds placed in an Irrevocable Trust.


Since 1960, the number of pre-planned funerals has increased by 1000%. Why such a dramatic increase in Pre-Planned Funerals?

  • Your wishes will be fulfilled.

  • You will spare your loved ones any unnecessary financial burden.

  • Your funds are 100% protected in FDIC insured accounts.

Pre-planning your own funeral makes sense because it allows you to take full control of your funeral right now. You can save your loved ones the trauma of making difficult decisions without knowing exactly what you would have wanted.

Pre-planning allows you to confer with your loved ones and make your plans together, thus resolving your most personal matters with a clear mind, in a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere. In return, you will save the people you care about most from the emotional turmoil and burdensome decisions that an unplanned funeral can often bring.

When you pre-arrange and pre-pay, you can be assured that definite arrangements have been made and no other financial decisions need to be faced. Your funds are held in your name, in a federally insured banking instrument designed solely for providing the funeral you have chosen at the time of need. Reimbursement of all principal and interest can be done by simple written verification to our firm.


Absolutely. In fact, you can transfer to Cornerstone any pre-paid funeral services that you may have previously made at another funeral firm. We will assist you in completing all necessary paperwork to complete the proper transfer.


You can take the first steps of pre-arranging by contacting Cornerstone's licensed director, who will arrange a no obligation consultation that is cost-free.


Legal Information

Perhaps one of the most important tasks you now face is the disposition of a loved one's estate. Whether or not the deceased had a will can make a greater difference in the time and effort involved in the proper disposition. It is suggested that you obtain legal advice on the array of different matters such as the disbursement or conversion of assets, changing of property deeds and titles, the disposition of bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and the disposition of business assets.

If you do not have an attorney, now is a good time to find one. The best methods of finding an attorney are through friends and relatives, or by calling your local bar association.

If your loved one had a will, it will need to be probated. Probate is the legal procedure for the orderly distribution of estates. In most cases, probating a will is a simple process. Only in the instances where the will is being contested or the deceased had numerous holdings will the action be more complex. There is usually a specific time within which a will must be probated, so it is important to check carefully.

If there is no will, the estate will be disposed of according to the state laws governing descent and distribution.

Preparation and or review of your own will is also an important consideration at this time. It is the best way to assure that your estate is handled according to your desires.

Please email and we will provide you with contact information for county and federal offices you may need to contact to settle the estate.


Traditionally, life insurance companies require only two forms to establish proof for a claim: (1) a statement of claim and (2) a certified copy of a death certificate. Please remember that this is a general statement. Your insurance companies reserve the right to request further information or proof that they deem necessary.

When filing a claim form, you should have available the following information:

  1. The policy number(s) and the face amount.

  2. The full name and address of the deceased.

  3. His or Her occupation and the last date worked.

  4. His or her date and place of birth and the source of the birth information. 

  5. Date, place, and cause of death.

  6. Claimant's name, age, address, Social Security Number, and date of birth.


You will want to gather all the bills together and make sure you are aware of all the credit obligations of the deceased. Many installment loans, service contracts, and credit cards accounts are covered by credit life insurance, which pays off the account balance in the event of the death of a customer.

You should contact any financial institution where the deceased had a loan, and inform them of the death. They will be able to inform you if the loan was covered by credit life, and what needs to be done to file the appropriate claim. A certified copy of the death certificate is often required to file a claim.

You will also want to contact credit card companies to notify them of the death. If the card is jointly held, find out what documentation is required to change cards into the survivor's name. Ask the credit bureau to assist you in transferring your loved one's credit into your name. They may be able to assist you in determining any outstanding obligations of the deceased.

Make a prompt request for the release from each bank in which the deceased and you held a joint account. This is necessary before you can withdraw funds from that account. A bank will usually stop payment on all checks as soon as a death notice is published. The bank must also have the account cleared by the state tax authorities.


Today there are more issues than ever before regarding "death with dignity" or "the right to die." Advances in medical and scientific techniques have found ways to keep people alive by way of machines. As a result, more and more people are concerned with issues regarding the "quality of life."

On June 25, 1990, the Supreme Court ruled in the Nancy Cruzan case that Americans do have the constitutional "right to die," and indicated that a Living Will or Durable Power of Attorney may be the best way to protect that right. Issues concerning measures to sustain life and the quality of life are very personal, and it is recommended that you discuss these issues with your family.

Today most states have Living Will statutes, specifying documents, which anyone can copy, and sign according to state law.

You may obtain additional information in regard to your state or about this issue by contacting us at

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  • The Bereaved -

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