By Leader Editor Kara Apel
Since April 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has shelled out over $278 million to families for funeral costs related to COVID-19 deaths.
This total reflects over 41,000 people, with each case receiving an average of $6,756.
On the first day of the application program period in April, FEMA received over 1 million calls, which led to technical issues for many callers. More recently, the agency has increased its staffing to 2,500. These FEMA employees have been designated to work with applicants and review applications.
Below are the most updated numbers for all states and U.S. territories.
|Location||Registrations||Funeral Assistance Approved||Number of Applicants Awarded|
|COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN MARIANAS||3||$4,344||1|
|DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA||435||$623,395||87|
|UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS||19||$21,549||3|
FEMA says that the column titled “applications” reflects the number of people who have called the agency to start the application process.
“Once an individual applies, FEMA sends a letter outlining the required documentation needed to process their application. The process to determine eligibility starts after an applicant submits all required documentation. FEMA developed a process to ensure applicants have ample time to collect and submit required documents for assistance. While some jurisdictions provide or amend death certificates in four to six weeks, others may take longer. FEMA will make calls and send additional letters reminding applicants of the required documents.”
The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) recently released the following information to its members about receiving calls from FEMA. These callers will ask funeral directors to validate the information provided by applicants. If FEMA is unable to confirm this information with the funeral home, it could delay or halt the processing of a case.
Below is some of the information that a FEMA representative may request as part of the application review:
- The applicant’s name indicated as the responsible party for the expenses
- The total amount of the funeral expenses
- The deceased individual’s name
- The date funeral expenses were incurred
According to NFDA, if FEMA is unable to reach someone at your funeral home, they will leave the following message with the funeral home’s point of contact:
“FEMA is trying to reach [Funeral Home Name]. Please contact a FEMA representative at 1-844-684-6333 between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST Monday through Friday, and a representative will gladly assist to confirm information to support a COVID-19 funeral request as soon as possible. Please provide the applicant’s name, deceased individual’s name, and the four-digit disaster number when you call back [provide this information to the third party or voicemail]. When you call back, please state “AGENT” when prompted to do so by the automated system. This will ensure your call is routed to a person to discuss this case. Thank You.“
Quick Details About the FEMA Assistance Hotline:
- The hotline is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT from Monday through Friday.
- Families can call 844-684-6333 or TTY: 800-462-7585.
- Multilingual and translation services are available through the helpline.
- At this time, there is no deadline to apply for this assistance.
- Click here for information you can send to families.
- Anyone who believes they have encountered a spammer or fraudulent caller is asked to report the incident to FEMA-OCSO-Tipline@fema.dhs.gov or StopFEMAFraud@fema.dhs.gov.