Did a loved one die from COVID-19? FEMA can reimburse you for funeral costs

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering to provide financial relief for COVID-19-related funeral expenses as early as April 2021 as part of the CARES Act.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering to provide financial relief for COVID-19-related funeral expenses as early as April 2021 as part of the CARES Act. Photo: Shutterstock

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is offering to provide financial relief for COVID-19-related funeral expenses as part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

The agency will start accepting applications as early as April 1.

The death should have occurred after January 20, 2020 in the United States, including U.S. territories.

The death certificate should attribute the death to COVID-19.

There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien and applicants need to be U.S. citizens, non-citizen national or qualified alien. The key requirement is that you incurred the funeral expenses.

FEMA said it will provide up to $9,000 per funeral and for those who lost multiple family members to COVID-19 eligible to apply for up to $35,000.

“At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters,” said Acting FEMA

Acting FEMA Administrator Robert J. Fenton Photo: FEMA

Administrator Bob Fenton in a news release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate.”

According to FEMA, applicants can be reimbursed for costs related to funeral expenses and will include the following:

  • Transportation for up to two people to identify the deceased individual
  • Transfer of remains
  • Casket or urn
  • Burial plot or cremation niche
  • Marker or headstone
  • Clergy or officiant services and arrangement of the funeral ceremony
  • Use of funeral home equipment or staff
  • Cremation or interment costs

FEMA’s funeral assistance will however not reimburse costs that were already covered by other aid, including burial or funeral insurance, donations, or financial assistance received from other agencies, organizations or government programs.

Mshale has not been able to determine whether life insurance proceeds are considered aid, so if you received life insurance after a loved one’s death, we encourage you to still apply.

How and where to apply

Visit this FEMA site for the full list of requirements including documentation and how to apply: fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance/faq

About Tom Gitaa

Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, President and Publisher of Mshale. As the founder, he did a lot of the reporting during the humble beginnings of the newspaper. While he still does the occasional reporting, he now concentrates on the publishing side of the news operation. Tom was also the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dishnetwork satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states such as the president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh at State House, Banjul. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as President of the Board of Directors of Books for Africa, the largest shipper of donated books to Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. Tom also served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. He retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on half marathons.

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