By Leader Editor Kara Apel
Earlier this week, FEMA began accepting applications for assistance with funeral expenses related to COVID-19 deaths.
However, according to the government agency, the rollout of the application process did not go smoothly.
FEMA released a statement on Tuesday explaining that the call center received more than 1 million calls on Monday, which caused “some technical issues.” Some applicants were able to reach operators, while others only heard a busy signal when they tried to call.
By Wednesday morning, FEMA confirmed the agency had received over 56,000 applications for funeral assistance.
If the families you serve say they are having issues applying, here is what FEMA wants them to understand:
“We ask that applicants be patient as we work to correct these issues and have all their important documents ready when they call to apply. Please know there is no deadline to apply and applicants will have the ability to open a case. We will not rush through calls because we intend to make sure that every applicant gets their questions answered and receives the help they need to apply.”
At this time, applications are only being accepted through the FEMA hotline at 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585), which is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET Monday through Friday. Multilingual services will be available.
After families submit their applications, they are being advised to submit their documentation online through Disasterassistance.gov or via fax at 855-261-3452. Documents can be mailed to COVID-19 Funeral Assistance P.O. Box 10001 Hyattsville, MD 20782.
FEMA’s financial assistance program is part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
To be eligible for funeral assistance, applicants must meet these conditions:
- The death must have occurred in the United States. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020.
- The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
- There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
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We want to hear from you — what are the most common questions that families are asking you about FEMA assistance? What are their most common frustrations? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.