More on FEMA funeral expenses reimbursement

You’ve probably heard by now that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering financial funeral and burial assistance for families who lost a loved one to COVID-19.

We’ve written a few stories about it, and last week we published an editorial explaining some details.

Our editorial board — of which I am a member — thought it was an important topic deserving our commentary.

Within a day after the editorial was published, I received a few calls from grieving readers seeking more information. So, in response, I’ve been in contact with FEMA, and here are some more specific details if you experienced a COVID-related death of a loved one.

Q: Who can apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

A: You may qualify if you are a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien who paid for funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020, and the funeral expenses were for an individual whose death in the United States, territories or the District of Columbia may have been caused by or was likely the result of COVID-19.

Q: How do I apply?

A: Call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number, 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585), 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday thru Friday. Multilingual services will be available. No online applications will be accepted.

Q: How long will it take?

A: It should take about 20 minutes to apply.

Q: What if I get a busy signal?

A: High call volume is causing technical issues. If your call does not connect, try calling later. Remember, there is no deadline to apply.

Q: Can a funeral home apply on behalf of the family?

A: No, the person applying must be an individual, not a business, who incurred the funeral expenses.

Q: What funeral expenses are covered?

A: COVID-19 Funeral Assistance will assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation. Any receipts received for expenses that are not related to funeral services will not be determined eligible expenses. Expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation typically include, but are not limited to, 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.

Q: Can I apply for COVID-19 funeral assistance for more than one death?

A: Yes, applicants may receive assistance for the funeral expenses of multiple deceased individuals.

Q: What is the dollar limit?

A: 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.

Q: What information do I need to provide?

A: The applicant responsible for COVID-19 funeral expenses will need to provide the following information when they call FEMA: Social Security number for the applicant and deceased; date of birth for applicant and deceased; mailing address and phone number for applicant; location or address where the death occurred; information about burial or funeral insurance policies; information about other funeral assistance received, such as donations; CARES Act grants and assistance from voluntary organizations; routing and account number of the applicant’s checking or savings account (for direct deposit, if requested).

Q: What documentation do I need?

A: You must provide a copy of death certificate, proof of funeral expenses and assistance received from other sources. The death certificate must indicate the death was caused by, “may have been caused by” or “was likely a result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms, or other similar phrases. Documentation for expenses (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) must include the applicant’s name as the person responsible for the expense, the deceased individual’s name, amount of funeral expenses, and that funeral expenses were incurred after January 20, 2020.

Q: May I apply if I received other assistance or benefits?

A: COVID-19 Funeral Assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance or financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government programs or agencies, or other sources. Life insurance proceeds are not considered duplication of benefits. Any source of payment designated specifically to pay for a funeral in anticipation of a future death cannot be reimbursed. This includes burial or funeral insurance, a prepaid funeral contract, a prepaid trust for funeral expenses or an irrevocable trust for Medicare.


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