FEMA launches funeral assistance program, reimbursing families up to $9,000 for COVID-19 deaths

Coronavirus

NOTE: FEMA on Tuesday said it was experiencing a high call volume on the Funeral Assistance phone line, which was causing some technical issues. Those who can’t connect on the call line should try again later. There is no deadline to apply.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY/WBTW) — Help is on the way for millions of families who lost loved ones to COVID-19.

On Monday, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) launched a massive funeral financial assistance program. 

It’s part of the agency’s response to help many affected by the pandemic, according to Auvergene Larry, who is the deputy site manager for the mass vaccination site at Military Circle in Norfolk.

“Yes, we have been working hard since the pandemic. It’s been hard on a lot of people especially if they have lost loved ones,” Larry said.

Families can get reimbursed up to $9,000 per funeral of a COVID-19 caused death. Households that lost more than one family member to COVID-19 can receive up to $35,000. 

If you’re applying, you must be a United States citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien, according to FEMA.

However, there is no requirement for the deceased person to have been any of the listed qualifications, only that they died in the United States and U.S. territories.

Larry says it’s a program they normally provide on a smaller scale for disasters they respond to like hurricanes and some are usually shocked to find out they provide assistance for funerals.

“Some people will unless they’ve been devastated from that disaster but they might not know this is a program with FEMA,” she said.

Larry says there is no income requirements but you must have proof of expenses.

“There’s no financial level or income that’s associated with this,” she said. “This is reimbursement program. They need to submit the death certificate, death benefits such as insurance, receipts from the funeral home and information they used,” she said.

The death certificates must also attribute the death directly or indirectly linked to COVID-19.

The FEMA reimbursement will go to those who paid for funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020. 

“We have lost far too many people to the COVID-19 pandemic, and funeral costs far too often add tremendous mental and emotional stress to the grieving process,” said Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03). “Hopefully Virginians who have suffered the loss of a loved one to COVID-19 will take advantage of this relief program.”

The applicant responsible for COVID-19 funeral expenses will have to provide paperwork on funeral costs and cause of death. They will also need to be prepared with a list of information when they call FEMA to register. 

There is no deadline to apply.

What information do you need to provide when registering?

  • SSN and DOB for the applicant and the deceased individual
  • Current mailing address and phone number for the applicant
  • Location or address where the COVID-19 victim passed away
  • Information about burial or funeral insurance policies
  • Information about other funeral assistance received, such as donations
  • CARES Act grants and help from voluntary organizations
  • Applicant’s bank account information

If you need assistance, call the toll-free number 844-684-6333 to complete an application with a FEMA representative. 

Assistance is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. If you are eligible for financial help, you will receive a check by mail or direct deposit, depending on which you choose when you apply. 

Click here to see the full list of funeral expenses covered under the FEMA funeral assistance program.

NOTE: FEMA on Tuesday said it was experiencing a high call volume on the Funeral Assistance phone line, which was causing some technical issues. Those who can’t connect on the call line should try again later. There is no deadline to apply.

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