Programs allow Tarrant County residents to get assistance for funeral, burial costs

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The national median cost for a funeral with a viewing in 2019 was $7,650, according to the National Funeral Home Directors Association.

This cost doesn’t include fees connected to the cemetery, headstone, flowers for the service or an obituary.

Local and federal government agencies are able to help those who need assistance, including veterans and those living in Tarrant County.

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the average casket can cost slightly more than $2,000 while others can sell up to $10,000.

The FTC advises the public to keep track of the possible costs when planning a funeral which could include fees for basic services, transportation, permits, equipment and cash advances.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is providing assistance to people across the country who paid for funerals for loved ones who died from COVID-19.

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA has approved nearly $190 million in assistance for 29,000 applicants across the United States so far this year.

Programs for local residents

Tarrant County partners with the University of North Texas Health Science Center’s Willed Body Program to provide assistance to those who have no financial means to bury or cremate their loved one.

The service is available at no charge to those who qualify.

According to Claudia Yellott, Willed Body program manager, it has seen an increase in assistance request since the pandemic started. The program’s busiest time was between October 2019 and March 2021 with a constant flow of donors and assistance requests. Numbers started to decrease for both groups as of March.

People can receive assistance with burial for veterans, cremation for non-veterans, or donate to the Willed Body Program. According to Yellott, 85% of people have been interested in donation when inquiring about assistance.

The Willed Body Program provides medical education for future healthcare professionals and conducts research.

A 24-hour phone line (817-304-3763) is available for anyone with questions or needing assistance. A person will need to be able to prove they are a Tarrant County resident and meet income requirements.

Veterans Affairs providing assistance to families

Burial assistance can be provided to veterans, their spouses and dependents through Veterans Affairs.

Benefits can include the costs for the opening and closing of the grave site, perpetual care, the headstone, a burial flag and a Presidential Memorial Certificate.

Some veterans may be eligible for burial allowances which could cover the costs of the burial, funeral and transportation costs. An application for a non-service-connected burial allowance must be filed within 2 years after the veteran’s burial or cremation. People with questions concerning burial allowances can call 800-827-1000 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Burial benefits may still be available to loved ones who want to bury a veteran in a private cemetery, including a headstone, burial flag and Presidential Memorial Certificate.

The National Cemetery Scheduling Office verifies eligibility for burials in VA national cemeteries across the country. According to Veterans Affairs, a person may be eligible to be buried at a national cemetery if:

  • They are a veteran who did not receive dishonorable discharge.

  • They are a service member who died while on active duty, active duty on training or inactive duty for training.

  • They are the spouse or minor child of a veteran.

  • In some cases, they are the unmarried adult dependent child of a veteran.

The scheduling office can be reached by phone at 800-535-1117.

FEMA paying for COVID-19 funeral expenses

Tarrant County Public Health reported on Wednesday, 3,531 people have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic started. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 595,301 people have died in the United States from the illness during the pandemic, so far.

FEMA announced June 7 it has approved $18.5 million in assistance to people who paid for COVID-19 funeral-related expenses in Texas. The agency stated from Texas, 19,054 people applied for assistance and 2,720 received funds.

The agency will assist with expenses related to the funeral service, burial or cremation. A person can apply for assistance for more than one funeral.

The maximum amount of assistance a person may receive for one funeral is $9,000 while the most assistance an application can receive per state or territory is $35,500.

To qualify for assistance, a person must be a U.S. citizen or legally allowed to be in the country. Expenses must have occurred after Jan. 20, 2020 for a person who died most likely from COVID-19 in the U.S. or its territories. Foreign students, people with temporary tourist or work visas, or “habitual residents” are not eligible.

Applications are taken over the phone Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.: 844-684-6333.

There is no deadline to apply for funeral expense assistance at this time.

Resources:

Tarrant County Burial Assistance: 817-304-3763 (24-hours).

Veterans Affairs Burial Allowances: 800-827-1000 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. ET).

National Cemetery Office of Scheduling: 800-535-1117.

FEMA COVID-19 Burial Assistance: 844-684-6333 (Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-9p.m. ET).

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