Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA will provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.
What you need to know about the FEMA COVID-19 reimbursement
The federal government recently announced a funeral reimbursement for families whose loved one died of COVID-19. Here's what we know.
The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) is managing the program, and the agency will begin accepting applications on April 12. This program was created as a part of the COVID-19 relief bill passed in December and applies to expenses incurred between January 20-December 31, 2020. Expenses for deaths that occurred in 2021 are not covered.
Here are the eligibility requirements:
- The death must have occurred in the US, including the US territories and the District of Columbia.
- The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
- The person applying for the benefit must be a US citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020. The deceased person does not need to have been a US citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien.
FEMA will reimburse funeral costs of up to $9,000. It is not yet clear whether all families will receive the same amount or if income or other factors will reduce the benefit. Reimbursements will be sent out by paper check or direct deposit to those who qualify.
To apply, call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line, which will be available starting April 12, 2021.
844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585)
Hours of Operation: Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Central Time
FEMA suggests that families collect documentation of their funeral expenses and ensure that they have a copy of the death certificate before they call. The death certificate must state that the death was caused either directly or indirectly by COVID-19.
If you need a copy of your loved one's death certificate, and you used our funeral home for services, we can help you obtain an additional copy. You can also request one directly from the office of vital records. If your loved one's death certificate does NOT state that COVID-19 was the direct or indirect cause of death, we are not able to change that for you. You will need to contact the doctor who signed the death certificate if you believe that your loved one's death certificate was prepared in error.
You will also need documentation of the funeral bill and how it was paid. Documentation will need to include the name of the person applying for the benefit indicating that they were the responsible party for the expenses, the deceased person's name, and the amount and date(s) of funeral expenses incurred. If multiple people contributed towards funeral expenses, they must all register with FEMA under one registration as an applicant and co-applicant(s). Otherwise, only the first person to apply will receive the assistance.
If part or all of the funeral was paid by burial or funeral insurance, goverment agencies, donations or other sources, FEMA will not provide a reimbursement for those amounts. If you did receive burial or funeral insurance proceeds and/or any other forms of assistance from other sources, any uncovered expenses will still be eligible for the FEMA Funeral Assistance program. Please note that if a life insurance policy was used to pay for funeral expenses, that amount IS eligible for reimbursement by FEMA.
Please give us a call if you need an additional copy of your invoice. We suggest gathering documentation of any cemetery expenses as well before you apply. These can be obtained from the cemetery or monument dealer who assisted your family.
Eligible funeral expenses 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
- Services of clergy or officiant
- 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.
Additional guidance can be found on FEMA's FAQ page.
One final note regarding scams: FEMA will not reach out to you until after you have contacted them or applied for assistance. If you have not yet applied and receive a call or an email from someone claiming to be from FEMA and asking for information, exercise caution and assume it is a scam.