COVID-19 funeral assistance program launches: How to apply

Coronavirus
funeral home coronavirus

Omar Rodriguez, left, works with Joe Neufeld, the owner of the Gerard Neufeld Funeral Home, to move a newly delivered casket on Friday, March 27, 2020.

Families who’ve lost a loved one to COVID-19 can now apply for assistance from the federal government for funeral costs, according to the Federal Emergency Management Administration.

The recent Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and American Rescue Plan created the fund for FEMA to provide financial assistance for COVID-related funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020.

Click here for more info from FEMA

Am I eligible?

According to FEMA, applicants for assistance must meet the following requirements:

  • The death must have occurred in the United States
    • This includes U.S. territories and DC
  • The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19
  • The individual applying for assistance must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified immigrant who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020
    • There is no requirement for the deceased person to meet those citizenship requirements, though

How do I apply?

The application window opens April 12.

Call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number: 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585

The office is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT

How am I compensated?

Eligible applicants will receive a check in the mail or funds via direct deposit, depending on the option you choose at the time of application

According to reports from the New York Post and New York Daily News, applicants could receive up to $9,000.

Is there anything I need to have prepared?

New Yorkers who think they may be eligible for financial assistance should work with family members, city and state officials, and their funeral director to gather the following information:

  • Documentation to verify the caller’s identity and relation to the deceased.
  • A death certificate that lists the deceased’s death as related to COVID-19, in accordance with the CDC’s guidelines.
  • Documentation of all costs associated with the deceased’s funeral.
  • Coordination with family members and the city and state on who will submit the claim as “next of kin.”

As of Friday, nearly 50,000 New Yorkers had died of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 relief bill passed in December 2020 earmarked $2 billion for funeral and burial assistance. About $260 million of those funds will go to New Yorkers, especially to families living in neighborhoods hit hard by the pandemic — many of which are communities of color and low-income.

Click here for more info from FEMA

The program was previously announced by two prominent New York politicians.

“Families across New York are already paying the ultimate price with the tragic loss of their loved ones to the coronavirus. For families, the unspeakable loss of a loved one is being exacerbated by the substantial costs of funerals and burials that many cannot afford right now,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer. “This historic use of FEMA’s funeral assistance program helps ensure those grappling with this crisis are not also saddled with the financial burden of exorbitant funeral costs, and that is what Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and I worked to deliver here — and we got it done.”

Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said the program will allow New Yorkers to give their loved one a proper burial without worrying about going into debt.

“Millions of people across the country and thousands of New Yorkers have lost loved ones due to the pandemic and adding significantly to the emotional and financial burdens they were already dealing with,” she said. “In the complete lack of adequate federal support, the least we could push for was for financial assistance to families burying their loved ones during this pandemic.”

Click here for more info from FEMA

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