Losing a loved one to COVID-19 is devastating. But despite the grief, you still must deal with the funeral costs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is offering COVID-19 funeral assistance. This program is designed to relieve the stress and burden that comes with a deceased individual's funeral expenses.
Eligibility for FEMA Funeral Assistance
To receive aid for COVID-19 related funeral assistance, you must be a U.S. citizen, qualified alien or non-citizen national. In addition, the decedent must have died in the United States, District of Columbia or U.S. territories as a result of or caused by COVID-19.
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The assistance goes back to the pandemic's early days. Those families who had a loved one die after January 2020 due to coronavirus may be eligible.
Anyone whose loved one died from COVID, or a related death, between January 20 and May 16, 2020, must have a signed statement from either a medical examiner, coroner or original certifier of the official death certificate. The death certificate must list COVID-19 as a contributing cause or direct cause of death. There must also be a signed statement linking the cause of death to COVID-19.
For deaths occurring on or after May 17, 2020, there must be a death certificate attributing that COVID-19 directly or indirectly contributed to the death.
Consider also: Help with Burial Expenses When the Deceased Doesn't Have Insurance
Amount Funeral Assistance Program Pays
The average funeral in the U.S. is $7,640 as of this writing. This excludes the vault's cost. A cremation is roughly $350.
The FEMA funeral assistance programs pay up to a maximum of $9,000 per decedent. If there are multiple deaths with funeral expenses, it will pay up to $35,500 per application.
As of January 2022, the program has dispersed $1.6 billion. The states whose individuals have received the most reimbursements are California, Texas and Georgia.
All individuals who receive COVID funeral assistance must provide FEMA with a receipt, signed contract or other legal documentation from the funeral home. This must show that the designated funeral home expenses were COVID related.
The individual who lost the loved one must apply to FEMA directly. A funeral home is not eligible to apply on behalf of an applicant, nor is the funeral home permitted to be a co-applicant. Only an individual who has incurred the expenses may apply.
What Does FEMA Funeral Assistance Cover?
The FEMA funeral assistance program covers many services regarding a funeral. Some of these include funeral services, cremation, internment, transfer of remains, a casket or urn, a burial plot or cremation niche and marker or headstone. Other services are covered as well.
Consider also: Does Social Security SSI Pay for Funeral Expenses
How to Apply for FEMA COVID Funeral Assistance
FEMA has a toll-free phone number dedicated to the funeral assistance program. Call 1-844-684-6333. A FEMA representative will help you with your application. Do not call the regular FEMA phone number. This is the only dedicated phone number.
A phone call usually lasts about 20 minutes. This is an opportunity to ask the FEMA representative questions.
Hours of operation are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. eastern time. FEMA offers multilingual services. Be aware that when FEMA calls you back, it may come from an unidentified phone number.
Can You Apply Online?
Unfortunately, there is no online application. You must apply over the phone. But once you have applied by phone and received your application number, you can upload documents online. Documents may be uploaded to your DisasterAssistance.gov account.
You can also fax your documents to 1-855-261-3452.
If you don't have a computer or a fax machine, mail your documents to P.O. Box 10001, Hyattsville, MD 20782.