FEMA’s COVID-19 funeral assistance hotline inundated with more than 1M calls on 1st day

FEMA received more than 1 million calls from people requesting assistance with COVID-19-related funeral expenses on its first day of application processing on April 12, according to the agency.

The phone lines became inundated with so many calls that it caused technical issues, FEMA said.

"Some applicants reached operators, while others received a busy signal. We ask that applicants be patient as we work to correct these issues and have all their important documents ready when they call to apply," the agency said in a news release.


FILE - US Army PFC Garrison Waites views the COVID-19 FEMA-operated vaccine site on campus at California State University of Los Angeles on March 4, 2021.

RELATED: FEMA will cover up to $9,000 in COVID-19 funeral expenses, application opens next week

FEMA announced earlier this month it will provide financial help to loved ones who had to pay for funerals during the COVID-19 pandemic. The money will be available to reimburse COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020. The agency announced it will cover up to $9,000 per funeral.

According to FEMA, the assistance falls under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law under the Biden Administration.

RELATED: SoCal residents can soon access funds from FEMA to reimburse COVID-19-related funeral expenses

As of April 12, the agency has received more than 56,000 applications for assistance and has reassured the public that there is no deadline for the application.

"Please know there is no deadline to apply and applicants will have the ability to open a case. We will not rush through calls because we intend to make sure that every applicant gets their questions answered and receives the help they need to apply," the agency said.

RELATED: Walk-up appointments available for eligible residents at Center City FEMA vaccine clinic

Beginning on April 15, call centers are scheduled to open in Pueblo, Colorado, St. Paul, Minnesota and Columbia, South Carolina. Another center is scheduled to open later this week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

People may apply by calling 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday.

For more information about the assistance program, visit FEMA.gov.

Stephanie Weaver contributed to this report.