Commentary

FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

You may have heard recently about a program announced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that will allow qualified applicants to receive reimbursement for the funeral and cremation or burial expenses incurred after January 20, 2020, of anyone who died in the US, District of Columbia, or a US territory, and whose death certificate indicates that COVID-19 was the cause of death or a contributing cause of death.

Beware of Scams:  FEMA will never contact you by phone, email or otherwise, to make application for this program, unless or until you have first contacted them by phone.  No online applications will be accepted.  You should never give out personal information, such as social security numbers, bank account information, etc., to anyone who cold calls you in regard to this program, or any other program.

The number to call is 844-684-6333 or TTY 800-462-7585.  They will begin receiving calls on Monday, April 12, 2021, between 8 am and 8 pm, M-F, Central Time.  The maximum amount that could be awarded per applicant and per COVID-19 related death under this program, would be $9,000, up to a maximum of $35,000 for multiple COVID-19 related deaths in any one state, the District of Columbia, or a US territory.

Notably, the person who died from COVID-19 related causes need not have been a U.S. citizen, but only have died within the US, D.C., or US territory.  However, assistance would not be available for U.S. citizens who died of COVID-19 outside the U.S.

Burial expenses that may be recoverable under this program include:

  • Transportation for up to two individuals to identify the deceased individual;
  • Transfer of remains;
  • Casket or urn;
  • Burial plot or cremation niche;
  • Marker or headstone;
  • Clergy or officiant services;
  • Arrangement of the funeral ceremony;
  • Use of funeral home equipment or staff;
  • Cremation or interment costs;
  • Costs associated with securing certified death certificates; or,
  • Additional expenses mandated by applicable local ordinance or state law.

Before contacting FEMA you should gather the following information:

  • Your SSN and the SSN of the decedent;
  • Your DOB and the DOB of the decedent;
  • Your mailing address and phone number;
  • Location of death of decedent;
  • Certified original of the decedent’s death certificate;
  • Proof of payment for funeral and burial or cremation expenses incurred by you, and thedate on which such expenses were incurred;
  • Information about burial or funeral insurance policies;
  • Information about other funeral assistance received, such as donations; CARES Act grants and assistance from voluntary organizations;
  • Routing and account number of your checking or savings account (for direct deposit, if requested).

Under the program, funeral assistance will be reduced by the amount of other assistance the applicant received for the same expenses.  However, life insurance proceeds are not considered a duplication of Funeral Assistance benefits.

For updates about this important program, please refer to:

https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance

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