The United States is quickly approaching one million deaths from the COVID-19 pandemic. On top of that, nearly half of non-retired adults are struggling with COVID’s economic impacts. The very last thing a family who’s suffering the loss of a loved one needs is to be hit with a massive funeral bill.
Fortunately, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the federal government is reimbursing qualified death care and funeral industry expenses. So, if you lost a loved one after January 20, 2020, and you paid for the funeral, here’s what you need to know:
How to know if you qualify for COVID-19 funeral reimbursement
The COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program is available for United States citizens, non-citizen nationals, and qualified aliens. The death needs to have occurred in the United States, Washington, D.C., or a U.S. territory, and COVID needs to be the likely cause.
Who doesn’t qualify for COVID-19 funeral reimbursement?
- Tribes, territories, businesses, organizations, states, and other organizations
- A minor child filing on behalf of a parent or adult who is not a U.S citizen, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien
What is a non-eligible alien?
Non-eligible aliens include citizens of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia. In addition, foreign students and temporary work or tourist visa holders are ineligible.
How much can be reimbursed?
If eligible, the program will reimburse up to $9,000 for one person and up to $35,000 for multiple people under one application.
What end-of-life arrangements are covered?
- Removal and transfer of remains
- Travel costs to identify the body
- Home funeral services, including funeral arrangements and use of home equipment
- Funeral planning
- Caskets or urns
- Officiant or clergy costs
- Cremation fees
- Burial plots
- Memorials such as grave markers or headstones
- Expenses associated with death certificates
- Additional local or state fees and regulations
Prepaid funeral arrangements are not reimbursable as the program only covers costs incurred and paid after January 20, 2020.
What documentation is required?
- A death certificate stating that the death was caused by, or “may have been caused by,” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19
- Expense documentation, such as receipts or a funeral home contract
- Documentation of other funeral cost coverage, such as funeral insurance, non-profit assistance, or prepaid funeral contracts.
How to apply for COVID-related death services reimbursement
Unfortunately, there is currently no way to apply online, but you can call FEMA’s dedicated toll-free line: (844) 684-6333 (or TTY: (800) 462-7585. The application process takes about 20 minutes.
Once you receive the paperwork in the mail, you can submit your documentation via:
- Online – Register for an account and upload atgov
- Fax – (855) 261-3452
- Mail – P.O. Box 10001, Hyattsville, MD 20782
Beware that identity thieves are preying on COVID-19 victims and their families. If you receive anything in the mail before you contact FEMA, report it to the FEMA helpline at (800) 621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at (866) 720-5721.