The staggering tolls from COVID-19 led the federal government to declare the pandemic a disaster, allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to step in an offer financial help to the more than half million families who have lost loved ones to coronavirus.
"At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters," said Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton. “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."
Starting Monday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (CST), anyone who qualifies can call (844) 684-6333, the dedicated toll-free phone number to get an application completed with help from FEMA's representatives.
No online applications will be accepted, but once an applicant has applied for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance and is provided an application number, they may provide supporting documentation to FEMA by uploading to their DisasterAssistance.gov account, or fax or mail.
To be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance, the policy states:
- The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020 for a death attributed to COVID-19.
- The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
- This assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application.
- Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation.
FEMA is unable to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.
At this time, there is no deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.
The agency is also warning of potential scams surrounding the aid.
"We have received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance," FEMA said. "FEMA has not sent any such notifications and we do not contact people prior to them registering for assistance."
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