FUNERAL & BURIAL EXPENSE
FUNERAL & BURIAL EXPENSE REIMBURSMENT
UPDATE: FEMA has begun accepting applications for funeral reimbursement as of 04/12/21. Please see below for further details.
To apply for the program, call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line at 844-684-6333 (toll free) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Central Time). For more information, visit FEMA’s website at: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 mandates that FEMA reimburse funeral and burial expenses incurred in 2020 for deaths related to COVID-19.
WHAT ASSISTANCE DOES THIS ACT PROVIDE?
The Act provides for reimbursement of funeral and burial expenses incurred between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 for deaths related to COVID-19. This assistance may cover up to 100% of these expenses, up to a maximum of $9,000 per funeral. If the applicant has been responsible for the funerals of more than one person, they may apply for each funeral. Maximum payments of $9,000 per funeral and $35,000 per application (in the case of multiple funerals) apply.
WHAT CONDITIONS APPLY FOR THIS ASSISTANCE?
- 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.
- There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
WHAT EXPENSES ARE ELIGIBLE FOR REIMBURSEMENT?
- Transportation of up to 2 people to identify the deceased, if required by state/local authorities
- Remains transfer
- Funeral expenses
- Use of funeral home equipment or staff
- Clergy/officiant expenses
- Interment expenses
- Burial plot
- Additional state/local government-mandated expenses
- Cost of up to five death certificates
WHAT EXPENSES ARE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR REIMBURSEMENT?
- Flowers, programs, catering
- Transportation to funeral services
HOW WILL THE REIMBURSEMENT BE CALCULATED?
While the basis upon which FEMA will render its final awards is unclear at this time, the calculation will factor in the amount of burial and funeral expenses incurred less any burial insurance and/or financial assistance provided by voluntary or other government agencies. It is unclear at this time if there will be additional income eligibility requirements which may impact the amount of the award.
WHAT INFORMATION WILL I NEED TO REGISTER?
The following information will be needed at the time of application. It is recommended that applicants collect this information in advance to be prepared to apply:
- Social Security number for the applicant and the deceased individual
- Date of birth for the applicant and the deceased individual
- Current mailing address for the applicant
- Current telephone number for the applicant
- Location or address where the deceased individual passed away
- 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)
WHAT DOCUMENTS WILL I NEED TO APPLY?
You must provide a copy of the death certificate, proof of funeral expenses incurred, and proof of assistance received from any other source.
- 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. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are considered sufficient attribution.
- The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, or the District of Columbia.
- COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is not available for the funeral expenses of U.S. citizens who died outside the United States.
- 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, the amount of funeral expenses, and that funeral expenses were incurred after January 20, 2020.
- The applicant must also provide FEMA with proof of funds received from other sources specifically used for funeral costs. 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. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance will be reduced by the amount of other assistance the applicant received for the same expenses.
- Life insurance proceeds are not considered a duplication of Funeral Assistance benefits.
HOW ARE THE FUNDS RECEIVED?
If you are eligible for funeral assistance you will receive a check by mail, or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option you choose when you apply for assistance.
THE DEATH CERTIFICATE DOES NOT ATTRIBUTE THE DEATH TO COVID-19. HOW DO I GET A DEATH CERTIFICATE AMENDED?
It is possible to change or amend a death certificate. This process starts with contacting the person who certified the death. This may be a treating doctor, a coroner or a medical examiner, and their name and address is on the death certificate. Applicants may present evidence to them to support the claim the death was attributable to COVID-19. This may be especially helpful in the case of deaths that occurred early in the pandemic, when COVID-19 was not always recognized as the cause of death.
HELPFUL LINKS FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
- Congressional Research Service report: https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IN/IN11582
- CNET article: Reimbursement for COVID-19 funerals: Who it's for, how to apply and other details
- National Association of Chevra Kadisha (NASCK) may be of assistance. Subscribe to their newsletter at: https://www.nasck.org/subscribe/.