Earlier in April, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, announced that following the passing of the American Rescue Act of 2021 and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 funds will be available to help pay for funeral expenses of COVID-19 victims. Funeral expenses would have to be accrued starting on January 20, 2020.
Certain conditions must be met in order to qualify for assistance including:
- the death had to occur in the United States or one of its territories
- the death certificate must indicate that COVID-19 attributed to the death
- the applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified undocumented immigrant who incurred funeral expenses
The decedent does not have to be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified undocumented immigrant. Up to $9,000 is available per application.
Documentation necessary for application included an official death certificate, funeral expenses documents, and proof of funds from other sources as FEMA is not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance or other agencies.
According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, over 20,000 applications have already been submitted. Due to the large volume, payout could take some time so patience is necessary. With over half a million victims of COVID-19 and counting, the number of applications is only expected to grow.
A toll-free number, 844-684-6333, was set up to help applicants during the process and is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Eastern Time. FEMA representatives are staffed on the lines to help with the application process.
If you are awarded funds, they can be dispersed either in the mail by check or by direct deposit depending on which option is chosen in the paperwork.