The application process to receive reimbursement for funeral expenses related to COVID-19 is now open. The funds will be coming from FEMA, which said it will cover up to $9,000 per funeral.
The money is only available to reimburse COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
"At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters," said acting FEMA administrator Bob Fenton. "The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate."
According to FEMA, this assistance is under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, into law under the Biden Administration.
How to apply for FEMA COVID-19 funeral assistance
The only way to apply is by calling a dedicated toll-free phone number. No online applications will be accepted.
The number to call is 844-684-6333 (tel:8446846333). The TTY number is 800-462-7585 (tel:8004627585).
FEMA says when you call, the application process will take about 20 minutes - but applicants are urged to gather all necessary information and documentation before calling. You can see a list of information and documentation to gather below.
Multilingual services are available.
At this time, FEMA has not set a deadline to apply for COVID-19 funeral assistance.
Who is eligible to apply for funeral assistance?
To be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance from FEMA, the death must have occurred in the United States, which includes the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
In addition, the death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
While the applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien, there is no requirement for the deceased person to have been.
An applicant may apply for multiple deceased individuals - and if multiple loved ones helped pay for a funeral, they must register with FEMA under the same application as the applicant and co-applicant.
Funeral homes are not eligible to apply on behalf of a family or be a co-applicant on the application.
What documents are needed to apply for funeral assistance?
Required documentation includes 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.
Applicants must also show funeral expense documents including any receipts or funeral home contracts. These documents should include 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, are also good to have.
In addition to that, the applicant will need basic personal information for the deceased individual, including social security number, birth date, mailing address, etc. You can see a full list of what FEMA will ask for here.
How much money will FEMA reimburse?
The assistance is limited to a maximum amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application.
If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. FEMA says it will also consider documentation from other individuals not listed as the applicant and co-applicant who may have incurred funeral expenses as part of the registration for the deceased individual.
Funeral expenses that are covered include interment or cremation, as well as caskets or urns, markers or headstones, clergy or officiant services, plus more. You can see a full list here.
How are the funds received?
If you are eligible for funeral assistance you will receive a check by mail or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option you choose when you apply for assistance.
You can get more information on the application process here.
This story was reported from Detroit. Stephanie Weaver contributed.