As a part of the recent stimulus legislation passed by Congress, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is making available emergency funeral assistance for those who died from COVID-19. Up to $9,000 per death may be provided if the applicant meets the eligibility rules.
To be eligible for funeral assistance, you must meet these conditions:
- The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
- The death certificate must indicate the death was caused by, “may have been caused by,” or “was likely a result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms.
- The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
- There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
Currently, there is no online application for such assistance. To apply, you must call FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance hotline at (844) 684-6333 between the hours of 9:00 am and 9:00 pm ET, Monday through Friday. Only the next of kin or a family member who paid for funeral expenses can submit an application for assistance. A funeral home cannot submit applications.
When you place the call to the FEMA Funeral Assistance hotline, you will need an official death certificate for the person that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19, as well as receipts and contracts to document the funeral expenses. Once you have an application number, the supporting documents will need to be provided to FEMA. It should be noted that if burial or funeral insurance was used, or if the person had pre-paid for their funeral prior to the pandemic, those expenses may not be duplicated and only expenses that were not covered by such policies will be subject to reimbursement.
Most general funeral expenses are covered under this reimbursement program, including a casket or urn, burial plot, and headstone, as well as funeral home costs. While the maximum per funeral reimbursement is $9,000, a person may apply for up to $35,500 per application if others within the family died of COVID-19 as well.
Applications can be submitted for funeral expenses that occurred after January 20, 2020. FEMA has not currently set an application deadline for seeking assistance under this program.When calling the FEMA funeral assistance toll-free number – (844) 684-6333, the next of kin should be prepared to spend at least 20 minutes on the phone answering pertinent questions concerning the application. Due to the high volume of calls anticipated, you should also expect a busy signal as the FEMA staff works through the application process. To obtain such assistance, you will have to be persistent in your efforts to reach FEMA.