FEMA grant reimburses funeral expenses for COVID-19 deaths

Prepaid services not eligible for federal program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering monetary reimbursement grants to cover funeral expenses for deaths attributed to COVID-19 after Jan. 20, 2020.

Even if funeral expenses already have been paid, the federal program can be used to reimburse the cost of services and interment or cremation. The grant covers costs of 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 with producing and certifying multiple death certificates; and additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances.

FEMA cannot duplicate service benefits, so families that utilized prepaid funeral services such as burial or funeral insurance, a prepaid funeral contract, a prepaid trust for funeral expenses or an irrevocable trust for Medicaid are not eligible for the program.

Life insurance proceeds, death gratuities or other forms of assistance not specifically intended to defray funeral costs are not considered a duplication benefit.

To be approved for reimbursement of funeral expenses related to a COVID-19 fatality, individuals must have incurred funeral expenses for the deceased individual and have documentation such as receipts or funeral home contracts showing their name as the responsible party. The responsible party then applies by calling FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line at 844-684-6333 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. The application process takes about 20 minutes.

Information required while applying includes: the Social Security numbers and dates of birth for both the applicant and decedent; current mailing address and phone number for the applicant; location where the deceased individual passed away, information about burial or funeral insurance policies and other funeral assistance received; and routing and account number for direct deposit, if requested. A copy of the death certificate, proof of funeral expenses incurred and proof of assistance received from other sources also are required upon application.

For information, call 844-684-6333 or visit www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.