The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families.
The mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to help people before, during and after disasters. The agency is dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus.
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA will provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020.
FEMA officials are working with stakeholder groups to get their input on ways to best provide this assistance, and to enlist their help with outreach to families and communities. FEMA will begin to implement COVID-19 funeral assistance in April.
Additional guidance is being finalized and will be released to potential applicants and community partners as soon as possible. In the meantime, people who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation.
FEMA has received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance. FEMA has not sent any such notifications and does not contact people prior to them registering for assistance.
Who can apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?
Applicants may qualify if:
1. They are a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who paid for funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020, and
2. 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.
A minor child cannot apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance on behalf of an adult who is not a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
How do I apply?
FEMA will begin to implement COVID-19 funeral assistance in April. In the meantime, people who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation.
FEMA officials are working to set up a dedicated toll-free phone number that can be used to apply for funeral assistance. Applicants will be able to call this number to get an application completed with help from FEMA's representatives.
• No online applications will be accepted.
• Multilingual services and a TTY number will be available.
Once an applicant has applied for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance and is provided an application number, they may provide supporting documentation to FEMA a few ways:
• Upload to their DisasterAssistance.gov account
• Fax documents
• Mail documents
What funeral expenses are covered?
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
I was responsible for funeral expenses for more than one person whose death was attributed to COVID-19. Can I apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for more than one death? Is there a limit?
Yes, applicants may receive assistance for the funeral expenses of multiple deceased individuals.
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.
Someone else helped me pay for funeral expenses. Can they apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?
FEMA will generally only provide COVID-19 Funeral Assistance to one applicant per deceased individual.
To be approved for reimbursement of funeral expenses due to a COVID-19 fatality, you must have incurred funeral expenses for the deceased individual and have documentation (receipts, funeral home contracts, etc.) showing your name as the responsible party.
FEMA recognizes multiple individuals may have contributed to funeral expenses for one deceased individual. FEMA will work with applicants in these situations and those who submit multiple receipts for funeral expenses when their name does not appear on the receipt.
If more than one individual contributed toward funeral expenses, they must register with FEMA under the same application as the applicant and co-applicant, or the first applicant that submits all required documentation will be awarded COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for the deceased individual. No more than one co-applicant can be included on an application.
If a minor child directly incurred funeral expenses for a COVID-19-related death and the documentation supports that payment, the minor child’s application could be reviewed for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.
Can I apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance even though I’ve already applied for a recent disaster event?
Yes. Applicants who recently applied for FEMA assistance for home and/or personal property damage from a disaster and also had funeral expenses for a death attributed to COVID-19 after Jan. 20, 2020, may apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. A separate application will be required.
What is the deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?
At this time, there is no deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. FEMA will communicate a specific deadline once established.
What information do I need to provide when I register?
The applicant responsible for COVID-19 funeral expenses will need to provide the following information below when they call FEMA to register for assistance. FEMA recommends gathering this information now as we prepare to open the application process.
• 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 documentation do I need?
Applicants 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 Jan. 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.
The death certificate doesn’t 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.
• Call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 for immediate help and support.
• The American Red Cross is operating a Virtual Family Assistance Center to provide comfort, support, information and resource referrals for families that have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
• All support will be provided virtually and is completely confidential. Call 833-492-0094 or visit the Virtual Family Assistance Center website.
Beware of Scams
Will FEMA contact me to ask for personal information to register?
FEMA’s Funeral Assistance Program has controls in place to mitigate fraudulent activity. FEMA will not contact anyone until they have called FEMA or have applied for assistance. Do not disclose information such as the name, birth date or social security number of any deceased family member to any unsolicited telephone calls or e-mails from anyone claiming to be a federal employee or from FEMA.
If you doubt a FEMA representative is legitimate, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Complaints also may be made by contacting local law enforcement agencies.