Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Federal funeral assistance benefit from FEMA for COVID-19 deaths

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced a program offering funeral assistance for COVID-19 deaths in the United States since January 20, 2020.

Who is eligible to apply?

Those who paid for funeral expenses since January 20, 2020 for an individual whose death in the United States was caused by or likely caused by COVID-19.

If someone else helped you pay for funeral expenses can they also apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

FEMA will generally only provide COVID-19 Funeral Assistance to one applicant per deceased individual.

How do you apply?

Unfortunately there is no paper application or online application available. The only way to apply at this time is by calling FEMA's COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number,
TTY: 1-800-462-7585 Monday through Friday between 9am and 9pm Eastern Time. Callers will be asked questions to get registered for the rest of the application process. You'll probably get a busy signal many times so you might have to keep on trying to get through.

What information will you need to give when you call to apply/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. We recommend 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)

After your registration call you will have to submit documentation which can be done online or by mail.

What documentation is required to submit after registration?

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. 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.

What if you received life insurance benefits or expect you might receive life insurance benefits?

Funeral expenses that were paid for with pre-paid funeral insurance are considered to be a duplication. So are funeral expenses that have already been paid for with burial or funeral insurance. But life insurance proceeds are not generally considered a duplication of benefits.

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

For more information about this new FEMA benefit see

If you personally are at least 60 years old and a West Virginia resident with questions about this or other legal issues, you can talk to an attorney for free at West Virginia Senior Legal Aid 1-800-229-5068.

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