Washington, D.C. – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced that it will provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral costs that took place after January 20, 2020. This reimbursement operation went into effect on April 12, 2021, under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The announcement also came after the US COVID-19 death toll exceeded 500,000 American residents, and it continues to climb.

FEMA, which operates under the US Department of Homeland Security, said in its statement, “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families. At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus.” In order to receive financial assistance through FEMA, one must meet the eligibility requirements. First, the death attributed to COVID-19 must have occurred in a state, territory, or tribe within the United States. The applicant must be a US citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien; but not the decedent. The death certificate must say that COVID-19 played a role in the person’s death. FEMA said it accepts death certificates with phrases such as “may have been caused by” and “was likely a result of” COVID-19 – any wording that indicates that the coronavirus played a likely role in the individual’s death is acceptable. Finally, applicants who had funeral expenses covered through other sources such as funeral and burial insurance, voluntary agencies, or governmental programs will not receive duplicate assistance through FEMA. Still, those who received only some financial assistance from other sources are encouraged to apply.

Qualifying applicants will be able to receive up to $9,000 in reimbursement for each COVID-19-related funeral they were responsible for. Payments will be sent in two ways – via a check in the mail or via direct deposit – depending on what the applicant prefers. As of now, there are no online applications available for FEMA’s COVID-19-related funeral reimbursements. Applications will be accepted through FEMA’s call center line at (844) 684-6333, which operates from Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. CT. For more information regarding FEMA’s COVID-19-related funeral assistance, visit www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance. (Seattle Gay News – Hannah Saunders at http://sgn.org/sgnnews49_16/page5.cfm)