FEMA Assistance for Covid related funeral expenses



3/24/2021 - The federal government recently announced a funeral reimbursement for families whose loved one died of COVID-19.  Here’s what we know:

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) is managing the program, and the agency is expected to begin accepting applications later in April.  This program was created as a part of the COVID-19 relief bill passed in December and applies to expenses incurred between January 20 – December 31, 2020.  Expenses for deaths that occurred in 2021 are not covered.  FEMA has not specified the exact amount of the reimbursement. 

Here are the eligibility requirements that have been announced so far:

  • The death must have occurred in the US, including the US territories and the District of Columbia. 
  • The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19. 
  • The person applying for the benefit must be a US citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020.  The deceased person does not need to have been a US citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien. 

It is not yet clear whether all families will receive the same amount or if income or other factors will reduce the benefit. Reimbursements will be sent out by paper check or direct deposit to those who qualify. 

FEMA will set up a toll-free pone number to manage the application process.  This phone number is not yet available, but FEMA suggests that families begin collecting documentation of their funeral expenses and ensuring that they have a copy of the death certificate.  The death certificate must state that the death was caused either directly or indirectly by COVID-19. 

If you need a copy of your loved one’s death certificate, and you used our funeral home for services, we can help you obtain an additional copy.   You can also request one directly from the office of vital records.  If your loved one’s death certificate does NOT state that COVID-19 was the direct or indirect cause of death, we are not able to change that for you.  You will need to contact the doctor who signed the death certificate if you believe that your loved one’s death certificate was prepared in error.  

You will also need documentation of the funeral bill and how it was paid.  Documentation will need to include the name of the person applying for the benefit, the deceased person’s name and the amount and date(s) of funeral expenses incurred.  Based on these guidelines, it appears that only the person who signed the funeral home contract and assumed responsibility for the expenses will be eligible for the reimbursement.  If part of all of the funeral was paid by burial or funeral insurance, government agencies, donations or other sources, FEMA will not provide a reimbursement for those amounts.  Please give us a call if you need an additional copy of your invoice.  FEMA does not mention whether cemetery expenses are covered within this benefit, but we suggest gathering documentation of any cemetery expenses as well before you apply. 

We will post updated information about the reimbursement, including the phone number to call to apply, when it becomes available.