COVID-19 Funeral Reimbursement: You Can Apply For $7,000 Soon
If your relative died from the coronavirus, the government may help pay for the funeral and burial costs.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration will soon begin reimbursing low-income families for coronavirus-related funeral and burial costs. Starting in April, FEMA will begin accepting applications from eligible families.
The measure was part of the December COVID-19 relief bill and FEMA is setting up the program to reimburse families in need.
Here’s everything we know so far about the funeral reimbursement funds, including who is eligible and how to apply.
The funding will be available for funeral costs incurred between Jan. 20 and Dec. 31, 2020, but not for funerals that took place in 2021, a FEMA spokesperson told CNET.
To be eligible for the assistance, you need to meet the following conditions, according to FEMA:
- The death must have occurred in the US, including the US territories and the District of Columbia.
- The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
- The applicant must be a US citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020. (There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a US citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien.)
Schumer estimated that more than $200 million of that funding will go to New York, particularly to epicenters of the virus like Corona, Queens.
How much money can you get reimbursed?
The bill says that FEMA will reimburse families up to $7,000 for COVID-related funeral and burial costs. It isn’t yet clear what factors will determine who is able to receive the full amount, or a portion of the available funds.
When and how will you be able to apply for COVID-19 funeral reimbursement funds?
- The details are still being worked out, but FEMA is creating a dedicated toll-free phone number that can be used to apply for the funeral assistance.
- The agency will begin accepting applications in April. In the meantime, it recommends families begin gathering any documentation of funeral costs (more below).
“FEMA is working quickly to finalize an implementation is hiring contract support through the federal acquisitions process to help administer the program. After a contract is awarded, FEMA will make an announcement later this year when applications are being accepted.”
What kind of information will you need to apply?
Before applications open up in April, FEMA recommends those who may be eligible gather the following documentation:
- An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the US, including the US territories and the District of Columbia. (You can get one by contacting the state or county vital records office. Sometimes a funeral home or a third-party provider can also request this for you.)
- Funeral expenses documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and the dates the funeral expenses happened.
- Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. FEMA is not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies or other sources.
Has FEMA ever done something like this before?
Yes. Under the Stafford Act, FEMA can offer help with funeral costs if the deaths were caused by a presidentially declared disaster. This was the case after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Sandy in 2012. After three hurricanes hit Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico in 2017, FEMA paid about $2.6 million in response to 976 approved applications for related funeral expenses, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.