In an effort to relieve financial stress caused by COVID-19, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has introduced a program designed to provide financial assistance to individuals who have incurred COVID-19 funeral expenses for loved ones. Such applicants must be over eighteen years of age, and a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien. The death for which funeral expense reimbursement is being sought must have occurred in the United States after January 20, 2020. Funeral homes may assist persons in obtaining the documents needed for the application but cannot file the application itself.
To apply, persons must call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line number which is: 844-684-6333| TTY: 800-462-7585.
Each applicant will speak with an intake specialist who will gather the information necessary to begin the process; such information includes Social Security numbers of the applicant and the deceased, date of death, etc. Applicants will then need to provide all supporting documentation to FEMA so the application can be processed. Documents needed in support include:
1) an official death certificate that attributed the death directly OR indirectly to COVID-19;
2) funeral home receipts which include the deceased person’s name, the applicant’s name, the amount of the expenses and the dates of the funeral expenses;
3) proof of funds from other sources (FEMA will not duplicate funds applicants have received from funeral insurance, government agencies or other sources but may reimburse funeral expenses in excess of such funds).
Supporting documents may be submitted in any one of three different ways. First, applicants may upload them to their own DisasterAssistance.gov account which they were given when they applied to the FEMA specialist on the phone. Second, they may choose to fax the documents to 855-261-3452. Third, they may mail them to P.O. Box 10001, Hyattsville, MD 20782.
FEMA specifies the types of expenses eligible for reimbursement which include:
- Transportation for up to two persons to identify the deceased;
- Transfer of remains;
- Casket or urn;
- Burial plot or cremation niche;
- Marker or headstone;
- Clergy or officiant services;
- Arrangement of funeral ceremony;
- Use of funeral home equipment or staff;
- Cremation or interment costs;
- Costs associated with producing multiple death certificates;
- Additional expenses mandated by local or state laws.
At this time there is no deadline for making application for reimbursement. Once the application and all documentation are submitted, FEMA will contact the applicant within seven to ten business days, or applicants can contact the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 1-844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585) Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET. Applicants who have been approved will receive a check by mail or by direct deposit as they choose. Applicants who have been denied reimbursement may appeal the decision.
If you have any questions about participating in the FEMA program or any other estate planning questions, feel free to contact any of the trusted estate planning attorneys at KDDK.