Program offering reimbursement for COVID-19 funeral expenses

The Cullman Times, Ala.
·2 min read

Apr. 8—Starting Monday, families who lost loved ones due to COVID-19 can apply for reimbursement for funeral expenses. As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide funding for funeral-related expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.

Beginning Monday at 8 a.m. a FEMA will offer a funeral assistance hotline at 844-684-6333 or TTY: 800-462-7585. The hotline will be open to callers from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Monday-Friday. Applicants will be given an application number they can then use to upload supporting documents to FEMA, or documentation can be mailed or faxed in.

To be eligible, a person must be a resident of the United States and the death certificate must indicate the death was due to COVID-19. Assistance is limited to a maximum of $9,000 per funeral, but families can apply for assistance for multiple family members who died from the disease.

According to the FEMA website, "The death certificate must indicate the death was caused by, 'may have been caused by' or 'was likely a result of' COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are considered sufficient attribution."

Applicants will have to show documentation of expenses and that they were the ones who paid them. "If more than one individual contributed toward funeral expenses, they must register with FEMA under the same application as the applicant and co-applicant, or the first applicant that submits all required documentation will be awarded COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for the deceased individual. No more than one co-applicant can be included on an application," FEMA said. However, the agency said it would work with applicants in cases where there are multiple applicants.

Reimbursable expenses include travel costs for up to two people to identify the deceased, transfer of remain, cost of urns or caskets, burial plots or cremation niches, headstones or markers, funeral home costs, payments to officiants, costs of obtaining multiple death certificates, and creation or internment costs.

The federal agency is also warning the public to be aware of scammers. "We have received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance. FEMA has not sent any such notifications and we do not contact people prior to them registering for assistance."

For more information on the funeral assistance program visit www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.