FEMA will offer up to $9,000 in relief for COVID-19 related funeral expenses

COVID funeral expenses
Photo via Stephan Ridgway/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, will reimburse out-of-pocket funeral expenses for those who died due to COVID-19. The payout will reach up to $9,000 for an individual or $35,000 if there were multiple deaths in a single family. 

These government-backed payout amounts may be reduced, however, depending on whether a family also received support from other sources. Alternate sources may include insurance policies designed to cover funeral expenses. 

Costs may be reimbursed for a range of performed services, including the purchase of a burial plot, headstone, clergy services, cremation, and any transfer of remains. The list of reimbursable expenses is not exhaustive, however.

To qualify for the reimbursement, an applicant must be either a U.S. citizen, qualified alien on or before Jan. 20, or a non-citizen national who paid funeral expenses for someone else who died due to COVID-19. One application can be filed for multiple COVID-19 victims. If multiple people contributed to funeral expenses, they should file their application as applicant and co-applicant or simply as co-applicants. 

This type of relief unfortunately presents an opportunity for fraud, prompting FEMA’s website to display a prominent warning. The warning states that FEMA will not reach out to applicants prior to their applications being filed. So calls, text messages, and emails claiming to be from FEMA are most likely not legitimate, unless you have already registered for assistance. 

The program began accepting applications on April 12. Registration can be started online, by mail, or by calling 844-684-6333.

Documentation that may ultimately be necessary for a successful application includes death certificates, proof of funeral expenses—like funeral home contracts and receipts—along with proof of funds received from other sources. 

“At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters,” acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate.”

Sources: The New York Times, FEMA, The Washington Post

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