The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began providing financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020, for deaths related to coronavirus (COVID-19) to help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic. FEMA is moving rapidly to implement this funeral assistance program nationwide.
“At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters,” Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said in a press 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.”
More than 550,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or about one in 600 Americans.
Applicants eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or qualified aliens who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020, for a death attributed to
COVID-19. The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
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.
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.
In the coming weeks, a dedicated 800 number will be established to help individuals who apply. In the meantime, potential applicants are encouraged to start gathering the following documentation:
• 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.
For more information about this assistance, visit fema.gov.