FEMA preparing to reimburse funeral costs for those who lost loved ones to COVID-19

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Editor’s Note: FEMA is now accepting applications for its funeral assistance program. More details on who is eligible for these funds and how to apply, click here.

(ABC4) – A federal agency says it is on track to reimburse funeral expenses to those who have lost family members to COVID-19.

Last week, acting administrator Robert Fenton announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is on track to implement its funeral assistance program in early April.

“When we talk about individuals that have lost loved ones, we want to make sure we do it in an empathic way,” he said during a House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing. “While we’ve done funeral assistance in disasters, we’ve never done anything at this scale or scope.”

ABC4 affiliate WJW says Fenton explained FEMA is currently focused on training call center staff and finalizing the program’s policies. Those who have lost a loved one during the pandemic will be able to apply for assistance through a 1-800 number versus online registration.

“We think that again, with empathy being a priority, we want to be able to case manage and have that human-to-human interaction as we do this,” he said. “And make sure we do it in a way that supports everyone’s needs.”

FEMA has been allocated $2 billion through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Act of 2021 to reimburse individuals or households for COVID-19 related funeral expenses incurred between January 20, 2020, and December 2020. President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan continues the assistance into 2021.

According to FEMA’s website, there is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

Fenton explains that you should keep documentation of the COVID-19 funeral expenses. FEMA’s website says types of information include an official death certificate, funeral expenses documents, and proof of funds received from other sources.

Once the program begins, funds will be sent to eligible recipients via a check by mail or funds by direct deposit.

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