Families around the country have suffered greatly in losing loved ones to COVID-19. FEMA, the government agency whose mission is to help people before, during and after disasters, recently announced its funeral assistance program to help ease some of the financial burdens and stress from the death of a family member(s) due to the virus.
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. Below is info from the FEMA website on how to apply, who is eligible, how the funds arrive, and scams to watch for.
How to Apply
Call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number at 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585. This line is open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time. FEMA representatives will help you complete your application, and multilingual services are available. Check out their Funeral Assistance FAQ page for more information.
Who is Eligible?
To be eligible for funeral assistance, you must meet these conditions:
- The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
- The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
- The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
- There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
If you had COVID-19 funeral expenses, we encourage you to keep and gather documentation. Types of information should include:
- An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
- Funeral expenses documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that includes the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses happened.
- Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. We are not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.
How Funds Are Received
If you are eligible, you will receive funds either by check or direct deposit, depending on your choice marked in the application.
Watch Out for Funeral Assistance Fraud
FEMA has received some reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance. FEMA has not sent and will not send any such notifications; they do not contact people before they register 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.