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FEMA’s mission is to assist people living in the states and territories before, during, and after disasters. The agency is committed to helping ease some of the economic stress and hardship caused by the virus. Beginning in April 2021, FEMA will begin to accept applications to help pay for COVID-19 funeral expenses.
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the agency will help individuals who experienced financial expenses due to a COVID-19 death since Jan. 20, 2020.
In the past 13 months, there have been over 540,000 deaths in the United States. Even though the daily death rate has dropped, there is likely to be another wave of seemingly out-of-control virus infections and deaths — especially since Americans are relaxing safety measures needed to keep the infection from spreading out of control.
With unemployment rates still over 6 percent and approximately 10 million people not working, unless a person has funeral insurance, their death is likely to present a hardship for those stuck with the bill.
What FEMA COVID-19 Death-Related Assistance Covers
Minnah Arshad with the Detroit Free-Press spoke with Edward Thompson about the fees his funeral home charges.
Thompson explains the price for a funeral range between $3,200 to $5,200 plus the cemetery cost. The price range varies on various factors, including merchandise, personalization, facility type, and more.
Cremation is more cost-effective — no cemetery plot is needed. Thompson said a person could expect to pay between $3,200 and $4,200 at his funeral home.
The federal assistance will help pay for caskets, urns, burial plots, headstones, and other required costs. On the other hand, costs for obituaries, printed materials, flowers, catering, guest transportation, and gratuities are ineligible for assistance.
Eligibility Checklist for COVID-19 Death-Related Cost Assistance
- Funeral expenses occurred after Jan. 20, 2020.
- The death took place in the United States.
- The death certificate must say the cause of death was COVID-19.
- The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national, or legal U.S. immigrant — the deceased does not need to hold a specific legal status.
When ready to apply for funeral assistance, the following documentation is required:
- An official death certificate that shows the cause of death or attributing factor is COVID-19. The death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
- Funeral expenses documents with names of both the applicant and deceased. The total amount paid for funeral expenses and dates for those expenses.
- Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. FEMA cannot duplicate monies received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance from voluntary or government agencies, and other sources.
If the applicant is eligible for assistance, the government will make the payout by mailing a check or direct deposit. This information will be requested when the application is submitted.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
FEMA: COVID-19 Funeral Assistance
Detriot Free-Press: FEMA to pay for, reimburse up to $7K in COVID-19 funeral costs incurred after Jan. 2020; by Minnah Arshed
Featured and Top Image Joe Coyle’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Paulo O.’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License