Families who've lost loved ones during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have been hit hard. For many, it's been an unimaginably painful time both emotionally and financially. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is providing reimbursement of funeral, interment and cremation expenses for COVID-19 related deaths.
FEMA began accepting applications for COVID-19 funeral assistance on Monday, April 12, 2021, through a dedicated call center.
In this article, you will learn:
- How much money FEMA is offering for COVID-related funeral expenses.
- Who qualifies for FEMA Funeral Assistance funds.
- What documents are required to apply for FEMA funeral reimbursement.
- What funeral-, cremation- and cemetery-related expenses are eligible for FEMA funeral funds.
- What to do if your loved one’s death was caused by COVID-19 but the death certificate doesn’t state it as the cause.
- How to apply for FEMA Funeral Assistance.
- The timeline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.
- How the reimbursement process works.
Do you qualify for FEMA funeral assistance? Answer a few questions to find out.CHECK QUALIFICATIONS
FEMA does not permit your Dignity Memorial® funeral director to submit documentation on your family's behalf, but we can help you document funeral costs. If we have a copy of your loved one's death certificate, we can provide that to you, too.
Here's what else you need to know about eligibility and applying for reimbursement under the FEMA funeral assistance program.
Is there a maximum amount that FEMA will reimburse for COVID-19 related funeral expenses?
The FEMA funeral reimbursement program provides:
- Up to $9,000 for funeral costs related to a single loved one
- Up to $35,500 for funeral costs related to multiple COVID-19 deaths in a single state, territory or the District of Columbia
Who qualifies for FEMA Funeral Assistance funds?
FEMA will review your application and make the ultimate determination. You must meet the following conditions to qualify for FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance:
- Your loved one's death was attributed to COVID-19.
- Your loved one's death occurred in the United States, the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory.
- You are a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien. (Your loved one need not have been a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien.)
- You paid for your loved one's funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
- You did not receive funds for the funeral expenses from other sources, including funeral or burial insurance or financial assistance of another kind.
- No one else has received FEMA Funeral Assistance funds for your loved one's expenses.
If family members shared funeral expenses, FEMA is allowing one co-applicant per application.
What documents do I need to apply for FEMA Funeral Assistance?
To apply for FEMA Funeral Assistance, you must submit all of the following documents:
- An official death certificate indicating your loved one's death "may have been caused by" or "was likely a result of" COVID-19 or "COVID-19-like symptoms" or a similar phrase that indicates a high likelihood of COVID-19. Or, for a death that occurred before May 16, 2020, FEMA is allowing an applicant to submit the official death certificate along with a letter from the person who certified the death or the local medical examiner attributing the death to COVID-19.
- Proof of funeral expenses, such as receipts or your funeral home contract. It must include everything on the list below:
- Name of the person who paid the funeral expenses.
- The total amount of the funeral expenses.
- Name of the loved one.
- Date of the funeral expenses.
- Proof of funds received from other sources for funeral costs, such as funeral or burial insurance or money from voluntary agencies or government agencies (state, tribal or federal). *FEMA won't pay if these sources did. Still, you don't need to worry about documenting life insurance proceeds, death gratuities or other forms of assistance not specifically intended to defray funeral costs. FEMA does not count those as funeral benefits.
Contact your insurance provider if you need help documenting funeral expenses that were already covered.
Fraud Alert: FEMA has received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance. FEMA has not sent any such notifications and will not contact you before you register for the program.
What funeral expenses are eligible for FEMA funeral reimbursement?
FEMA Funeral Assistance is intended to help with expenses for funeral services, cremation services and burial. Covered expenses include:
- transportation for up to two people to identify the loved one
- transfer of the loved one
- a casket or urn
- a burial plot or cremation niche
- a marker or headstone
- clergy or officiant services
- funeral director services
- funeral staff services
- use of the funeral home
- cremation or interment costs
- costs associated with certifying multiple death certificates
- other expenses mandated by local or state government laws or ordinances
Contact your funeral director if you need an itemized list of funeral expenses.
What if my loved one’s death certificate doesn’t state COVID-19? Can I get a new one?
If you have evidence to support the fact that COVID-19 caused your loved one's death, it is possible to change or amend a death certificate.
Your funeral director cannot amend a death certificate on behalf of your family. Whoever issued the original must do it (doctor, medical examiner, coroner, etc.).
Call your county's public health office for assistance with changing or amending an official death certificate.
For deaths that occurred before May 16, 2020, FEMA is offering another option. Instead of an amended death certificate, you can submit the official death certificate along with a letter from the person who certified the death or your local medical examiner attributing the death to COVID-19.
How do I apply for FEMA COVID Funeral Assistance?
FEMA began taking applications on Monday, April 12, via a toll-free number.
- Call 844-684-6333 (or 800-462-7585 for TTY), from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time.
- Complete an application with the help of a FEMA representative, who will give you an application number you can track.
- Provide supporting documents:
- Upload to your DisasterAssistance.gov account
Applications cannot be submitted online. Multilingual services are available.
Is there a deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?
Not at this time.
If I qualify, how will I get the reimbursement?
If you are eligible for FEMA Funeral Assistance, you will get a check by mail or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option you choose when you apply.
To learn more, go to FEMA.gov.