The COVID-19 pandemic made the past year quite difficult for everyone as we all struggled with significant changes in our daily lives. Learning how to work and attend school remotely. Not getting to dine out with family and friends. Not getting to visit and hug loved-ones, be they parents in nursing homes or our grandchildren living across the country. Not getting to attend in-person religious services. Loss of a job or significantly reduced income because our employer was forced to reduce hours or close entirely.
But for many families, the COVID-19 pandemic brought even greater pain and grief as their loved-ones died as a result of the virus. Along with the grief came unexpected, and frequently “budget-busting,” funeral expenses.
A new program managed by FEMA, the US government agency usually associated with providing help and relief following natural disasters, such as floods and hurricanes, started April 12, 2021.
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
Who can apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?
You may qualify if:
- You are a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who paid for funeral expenses after January 20, 2020, and
- The funeral expenses were for an individual whose death in the United States, territories or the District of Columbia, may have been caused by or was likely the result of COVID-19.
How do you apply? By phone only – No online applications will be accepted.
Call FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line at 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585 to get a COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application completed with help from FEMA’s representatives. Multilingual services are available as well. The line is open M-F, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time. You may have to wait on-hold for quite some time, but the application itself should take about 20 minutes to complete IF you have all the necessary information handy.
Beware of scammers claiming they can make the application for you. ONLY the individual who paid the expenses is eligible to apply. Also, do NOT respond to someone saying they are calling from FEMA if you have not yet submitted an application. FEMA will not contact anyone until after an individual has called FEMA and applied for assistance. Do not disclose information such as the name, birth date or social security number of any deceased family member to any unsolicited telephone calls or e-mails from anyone claiming to be a federal employee or from FEMA.
If you doubt a FEMA representative is legitimate, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720–5721. Complaints also may be made by contacting local law enforcement agencies.
For more information about this program, including details on the application process, documents required, what expenses are covered, and other FAQs, check out the FEMA website at: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance .
Our condolences are with you if you or someone you know qualifies for this program.