CHICAGO — In April, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, will start providing financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020 for deaths related to COVID-19. Families could be reimbursed up to $9,000 from the federal agency.

FEMA will begin accepting applications for funeral assistance on Monday, April 12, through a dedicated call center.

The funds are being provided under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
To be eligible, families seeking assistance must meet the following:

  • The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
  • The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
  • There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

The COVID-19 Funeral Assistance line number will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CT, Monday through Friday. Applications begin April 12 by calling 844-684-6333 or TTY: 800-462-7585. FEMA will be providing more information in the coming days. The agency has not yet provided an online application option.

Also, FEMA has already received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance. The agency does not contact people prior to registering them for assistance.

Some funeral homes are helping to guide families through the FEMA funeral assistance application process. Families that have experienced the loss of one or more families members due to COVID-19 within the past year, should call FEMA to apply or their funeral home to see it is offering application assistance.

“This is especially helpful, for families who may have lost more than one family member or
for those who have delayed any memorial services over the last year,” said Todd Hitzeman, the fourth-generation and owner of Hitzeman Funeral Home, Brookfield, IL. “Amendments or new agreements can be put in place to pay tribute for those who you have lost in this terrible virus.”

To expedite the application process, families are advised to gather their documentation, including:

  • An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
  • Funeral expenses documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that includes 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. We are not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.

Families eligible for funeral assistance will receive a check by mail, or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option you choose when you apply for assistance. Visit FEMA for more information on the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program.

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