By Leader Editor Kara Apel

FEMA has announced new details about how the agency will provide financial assistance to Americans who paid for funerals for COVID-19 deaths.

The agency confirmed its policy was finalized on Wednesday and will be “moving rapidly” to implement its funeral assistance program nationwide.

Families will be able to receive up to $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application.

“At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during, and after disasters,” said Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton in a news release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate.”

Below are details about who is eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance:

  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020 for a death attributed to COVID-19.
  • If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. FEMA will also consider documentation from other individuals not listed as the applicant and co-applicant who may have incurred funeral expenses as part of the registration for the deceased individual. 
  • An applicant may apply for multiple deceased individuals.
  • The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
  • This assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application.  
  • Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation.

Within the next few weeks, FEMA will have a dedicated phone line to assist individuals with their applications for financial assistance.

Those who are considering applying for assistance are asked to begin gathering the following documents:

  • An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are considered sufficient attribution.
  • Funeral expense documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and dates the funeral expenses were incurred.
  • Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. Funeral assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, federal/state/local/tribal/territorial government programs or agencies, or other sources.

Click here to stay updated with the latest on FEMA’s financial assistance program.

The National Funeral Directors Association issued this statement about FEMA’s assistance program:

“This has been a difficult year for many families, particularly for families that have experienced job loss, wage cuts, lost time at work due quarantining or illness, or steep medical bills following a bout with COVID-19. This assistance will make a tremendous difference for grieving families and enable them to lay their loved one to rest with dignity. Since March 2020, NFDA has been working on funeral assistance for families that experienced the death of a loved one due to COVID and was directly involved with the officials at FEMA who were responsible for developing policies governing the implementation and disbursement of this funding.”

Have questions about the program? NFDA will be co-hosting a webinar with FEMA on Thursday, March 25, at 12 p.m. CT. Although this first webinar is limited to NFDA members, subsequent offerings will be open to both member and non-member funeral directors. Click here to register.

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