WASHINGTON, DC – Families who lost a loved one to COVID-19 are now able to receive help with funeral expenses under a new program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program opened on April 12 and will continue through the foreseeable future. There is no deadline to apply.
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act, FEMA will now provide assistance for funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020 for someone who died of COVID-19 or coronavirus-related causes. The program is an opportunity for families who could not complete their funeral or memorial services at the time of death due to the unforeseen financial burdens brought on by the pandemic, said FEMA officials.
Under the new Funeral Assistance Program, families are now able to apply for reimbursement of funeral expenses incurred up to $9,000 per funeral with a maximum of $35,500 per application.
The program’s main goal is to help families manage expenses directly related to funeral services and interment or cremation. In practice, the program will reimburse expenses such as funeral services, clergy/officiant services, the transfer of remains, caskets or urns, burial plots or cremation niches, markers or headstones and the costs of up to five (5) death certificates. The program also covers similar costs involved with re-interment.
The program, however, will not cover expenses not tied directly to funeral services themselves. This includes expenses incurred for obituaries, flowers, printed materials (e.g., programs), catering, transportation to funeral services, or any gratuities.
Sadly, FEMA says that it has received reports of scammers reaching out to people to offer to register them for funeral services. FEMA has not sent out any such notifications and stresses that it does not contact people before they register for assistance.
Anyone interested in participating must register via phone at 844-684-6333. FEMA is reporting a high volume on the Funeral Assistance phone line, which is causing technical issues. The Agency asks callers to try calling again if they get a busy signal or if the call doesn't connect.
For more information on the Funeral Assistance Program, visit the program's website HERE.