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Federal Government Helps with COVID-Related Funeral Costs

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People who need aid covering the financial costs of funerals for loved ones who died of COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $9,000 in assistance from the federal relief legislation that was enacted in March.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — the government agency handling the funeral costs program — released its policy for the program, reports AARP’s recent article entitled “FEMA to Help Cover Funeral Costs for COVID Victims.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people,” Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said in a statement. “Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to helping with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate.”

Note that FEMA has already had reports of scammers reaching out to individuals claiming to offer help applying this funeral assistance. If anyone contacts you about this program before you have personally registered for aid, it’s a scam. FEMA says it won’t reach out to people before registration.

The maximum amount of financial aid available is $9,000 per funeral. Families can use this assistance to help with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation. FEMA has said that death must meet at least these criteria to qualify for aid:

  • Provide a death certificate that states that the cause of death was by COVID-19
  • The death happened in the U.S.; and
  • The person applying for funeral assistance must be either a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien who incurred the funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.

FEMA is taking calls for assistance applying for funeral aid at 844-684-6333 between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm Central time, Monday through Friday.

FEMA says if you had any COVID-related funeral expenses last year, you should make sure to collect all the documentation for all of your costs. This includes:

  • An official death certificate that links the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows the death occurred in the U.S.
  • Funeral expense documents, like receipts or a funeral home contract that include your name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of the funeral expenses, and the dates those expenses were incurred; and
  • Proof of funds received from other sources that went specifically toward the cost of the funeral.

This assistance program won’t be able to give you money for Covid-related funeral costs that were paid for by burial or funeral insurance or with financial aid received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.

If you qualify for funeral assistance, you can receive a payment by mail or through direct deposit when you apply for aid.

Reference: AARP (April 7, 2021) “FEMA to Help Cover Funeral Costs for COVID Victims”