The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) opened a window Monday for applications from family members to cover the funeral expenses of people who died of COVID-19.
People who need help for covering the financial costs of funerals for loved ones who died of COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $9,000 for individual funerals and up to $35,500 for multiple funerals for people from the same household.
As reported by AARP, Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said in a statement that they wish to alleviate people’s grief when facing an unexpected situation. “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 Audacy, Kathleen Ryan, executive director of the Pennsylvania Funeral Directors Association, said those interested in applying for the funeral aid will have to call a toll-free number 844-684-6333 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. EDT to make contact with FEMA.
“I hope that there are multiple lines and a lot of people that can assist these families,” she said. Ryan also advises callers to make sure they have all the paperwork from the funeral on hand.
“Make sure those documents are in chronological order and organized,” she said.
How much funeral aid can I get?
The maximum amount of financial aid available is $9,000 per funeral. You may apply for multiple deceased individuals with a maximum of $35,500 per application.
This federal funeral assistance can be used to help with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation.
If multiple people helped pay the funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application.
George Kelder, chief executive officer of the New Jersey State Funeral Directors Association, said among those documents should be a death certificate. He said in some cases early in the pandemic, death certificates were issued pending a COVID-19 test or toxicology tests, and that document may have to be amended.
Kelder also warned that scammers already are at work trying to profit from the FEMA aid. “FEMA does not know you exist,” he said. “You must make that initial call to their toll-free number. Only after you have identified yourself will FEMA be back in touch with you.”
More information on the COVID-19 funeral assistance program is available on the FEMA website.