What to Share with Families: FEMA’s Financial Assistance for COVID-19 Deaths
Posted March 31, 2021
5 min read
In case you haven’t heard, FEMA announced that it is going to provide financial assistance—now up to $9,000 per funeral—for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
“We are working with stakeholder groups to get their input on ways we can best provide this assistance, and to enlist their help with outreach to families and communities,” says FEMA in its announcement.
FEMA also says that the COVID-19 funeral assistance is set to be implemented in April.
Keep reading for key information you can share with families.
What Families Are Eligible For Assistance?
Be ready for your families asking what will make them eligible for assistance from FEMA. To be eligible for potential funeral assistance, all of these criteria must be met:
- 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.
Note that there is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien. Minor children cannot apply for COVID-19 funeral assistance on behalf of an adult who is not a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
As of now, applicants may receive assistance for the funeral expenses of multiple deceased individuals. Assistance is limited to a maximum of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application per state, territory, or the District of Columbia.
Remember, CRäKN tracks COVID cases so if you want to reach out to your past families impacted by COVID, this process will be simple for you to implement.
What Funeral-Related Expenses Will Be Reimbursed?
You can let families know that expenses related to caskets, burial plots, funeral services and cremation and/or burial costs are all covered. FEMA also lists the following, though as of now, they say it won’t only be limited to this list:
- Transportation for up to two individuals to identify the deceased individual
- Transfer of remains
- Casket or urn
- Burial plot or cremation niche
- Marker or headstone
- Clergy or officiant services
- Arrangement of the funeral ceremony
- Use of funeral home equipment or staff
- Cremation or interment costs
- Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates
- Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances
We’ll continue to watch how this evolves as new information is shared. FEMA will not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.
How Will Families Receive Those Funds?
Families who are a part of the program will receive reimbursement funds by check through the mail, or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option they choose.
What You Should Share With Families Now
Be sure to share this news with families, and you can let them know updates as they come in. That might mean sharing it with them on your website, via email, face-to-face, and even on your social media channels.
If you tell them face-to-face, ask them if they’d like follow-up information that you can either have printed off for them or emailed to them. With all they are going through emotionally, it will help them to have a printed copy or digital copy so that they can better understand what funeral assistance may be available to them if they keep the proper documentation when working with you. You can also ask appropriate families if you can continue to share relevant updates with them as they come in.
Action Steps Families Can Take Now
April is right around the corner, so here are steps you can encourage families to take now:
- Compile documentation provided by your funeral home for funeral expenses they incurred after January 20, 2020. FEMA says receipts or the funeral home contract will work. All in all, this documentation should include the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses occurred.
- Gather any proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use towards funeral costs. This might be benefits from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources. (Those will not be reimbursed by FEMA.)
- Gather the official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19. This death certificate will show that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
How Families Can Apply
FEMA will accept applications starting in April. Continue to visit this site for more of the latest updates.
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