HIGH POINT — Families of those who died of COVID-19 will be able to start applying this month to get reimbursed for up to $9,000 in funeral expenses they paid after Jan. 20, 2020.
The money, which will come through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is coming from the federal relief legislation that was enacted in March under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
It’s a plan many families who are struggling will need, said Brad Wright, manager of Wright Cremation and Funeral Service.
“The FEMA Funeral Relief Program is really a phenomenal benefit to a family who has lost a loved one to COVID-19,” Wright said. “Having to arrange funeral cost is stressful enough, but having to do it because of a loss due to a pandemic makes it more stressful.”
Wright said he hopes families will realize they’re not getting a “free funeral” because the assistance is a reimbursement for funeral expenses already incurred.
“The funeral expenses must be paid first to the funeral home, and then the government will pay the family,” Wright said. “This is the same procedure that the Veteran’s Administration uses for VA death benefits.”
To be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance:
• The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020, for a death attributed to COVID-19.
• An applicant may apply for costs related to multiple individuals’ funerals.
• The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
• Assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application for multiple funerals.
• Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral services, interment or cremation.
If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. FEMA also will consider documentation from other individuals not listed as the applicant and co-applicant who may have incurred funeral expenses as part of the registration for the deceased individual.
A dedicated 800 number will be established soon to help individuals apply. Because of the large number of COVID-related deaths across the nation, it may take some time to file for assistance once FEMA sets up its toll-free lines. In the meantime, potential applicants are encouraged to start gathering the following documentation:
• An official death certificate that indicates the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptom and shows that the death occurred in the United States.
• Funeral expense documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and dates the funeral expenses were incurred.
FEMA assistance cannot duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance from voluntary agencies or other sources.
For more information, visit COVID-19 Funeral Assistance | FEMA.gov.
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