By Patricia Jones, Alliance Poverty Task Force
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has funds to give families up to $9,000 for COVID funerals. The program has been funded using federal stimulus funds, and money remains available. The FEMA website says, “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many. At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus.”
Expenses covered under the FEMA program include funeral services, cremation and interment, as well as the costs for caskets or urns, burial plots or cremation niches, markers or headstones, transportation or transfer of remains, clergy or officiant services, and the use of funeral home equipment or staff.
Reimbursement goes directly to the individuals paying for funeral expenses. There is no income requirement.
Applicants may apply by calling 844-684-6333 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. MST, Monday through Friday to complete a COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application with a FEMA representative. This is a dedicated, toll-free phone number. Multilingual services are available. No online applications are allowed.
It will take about 20 minutes to apply, and you can ask questions and receive help with the application process.
Once you have applied for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance and received your FEMA application number, you may submit required documentation to FEMA in several ways: · Upload documents to your DisasterAssistance.gov account
· Fax to: 855-261-3452
· Mail to: P.O. BOX 10001, Hyattsville, MD 20782
You will need to provide the following information:
· Social Security number for the applicant and the deceased individual
· Date of birth for the applicant and the deceased individual
· Current mailing address for the applicant
· Current telephone number for the applicant
· Location or address where the individual died
· Information about burial or funeral insurance policies
· Information about other funeral assistance received, such as donations or assistance from voluntary organizations
· Routing and account number of the applicant’s checking or savings account (for direct deposit) – optional
To be eligible for reimbursement, death certificates for those who died after May 16, 2020, must indicate that the death was attributed to COVID-19. For deaths that occurred in the early months of the pandemic — from Jan. 20 to May 16, 2020 — death certificates must be accompanied with a signed statement from a medical examiner, coroner, or the certifying official indicating that COVID-19 was the cause or a contributing cause of death. After all required documents are received and verified, it typically takes FEMA fewer than 30 days to determine if an individual is eligible. Once eligibility is confirmed, applicants who request direct deposit may receive the money in a matter of days. It may take longer for applicants who request a check. Families who incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses for more than one individual may receive at a maximum of $9,000 per deceased individual and a maximum of $35,500 per application.
FEMA cannot provide financial assistance for a death not attributed to COVID-19. FEMA also cannot duplicate payments if there was another source of funding or contract made to pay for a funeral prior to death. This means that if a funeral has been pre-paid, which is common for people in nursing homes, FEMA will not reimburse for a COVID death. If the funeral expenses exceed the funding intended to pay the costs, FEMA may evaluate your receipts and other documentation for eligible costs that haven’t already been covered and pay the additional amount.
927,000 people have died from COVID in the United States, including 3,870 in Nebraska. At the end of last year, FEMA had approved applications from 1078 Nebraskans, paying $7.5 million for COVID-related funerals in our state.
Additional information about COVID-19 funeral assistance, including frequently asked questions, is available on FEMA.gov.