The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a lot from humanity — a sense of normalcy, everyday routines, jobs, and even lives. All of a sudden, families are torn apart and loved ones are lost because of the virus, with COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. already at over 800,000.
Along with grief and mourning, a death in the family due to COVID-19 also gives rise to unexpected expenses. As a form of relief, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has launched a federal program to reimburse families of COVID-19 funeral costs.
FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program
In compliance with the recently enunciated Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched its funeral assistance program to provide financial aid up to $9,000 to those who lost loved ones to COVID-19.
To be eligible for reimbursement, the loss and funeral expenses must have been incurred on or after January 20, 2020, the date of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the U.S. The following documents must be presented:
- An official death certificate showing that the death occurred in the U.S.
- If the death occurred between January 20 and May 16, 2020, the certificate must show that the death was directly or indirectly attributed to COVID-19 or come with a signed statement from the original certifier indicating that COVID-19 is the cause or contributing cause of death.
- If the death occurred on or after May 17, 2020, the certificate must indicate that the death was caused, directly or indirectly, by COVID-19.
Eligible families can apply by calling the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585. A FEMA representative will be available to assist families with their applications from Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm Eastern time.
If the application is approved, the reimbursement will be given through direct transfer or by check through the mail. Applicants can indicate their preferred means to receive the funds.
FEMA Program Helping Families Across the U.S.
As of early December, over 226,000 families have received reimbursements for their funeral costs. FEMA has shared over $1.5 billion in reimbursements. The largest states, namely California and Texas, have received the biggest shares from the total reimbursements so far, with more than 21,000 families receiving the benefit.
Despite this, however, a lot of families are yet to apply for FEMA reimbursement. More awareness about the program is required so that everyone who lost loved ones to COVID-19 can get the financial relief and assistance that they rightfully deserve.