FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Options
by Taylor Evans January 21, 2022 8 min read
Did you know that FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses? So far, FEMA has provided more than $1.6 billion in assistance to over 247,000 qualifying families.
If you have lost a loved one to COVID-19, you may be eligible for reimbursement of funeral costs.
What You Need to Know
- Up to $9,000 in assistance per deceased individual is available for funeral expenses for qualifying individuals
- A maximum of $35,000 in assistance is available per application, per state
- Eligibility determinations are generally made in 30 days or less, although there are some exceptions
- Your household income does not affect your eligibility
How Do You Apply for Assistance?
To apply for assistance, call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 844-684-6333. The hotline is available Monday through Friday from 9am-9pm ET.
Here’s what you need to know about the application process:
- When you call the hotline, you will speak with a FEMA representative to complete your application.
- Multilingual services are available.
- The process will take about 20 minutes.
- During the call, you may ask questions about the application and assistance.
- You will receive a FEMA application number.
- No online applications will be accepted.
When you call to apply, you will need to provide the following information:
- The Social Security number of the deceased individual and your own Social Security number.
- Your date of birth and the deceased individual’s date of birth.
- Your current phone number and mail address.
- The location where the individual died.
- Information about any funeral assistance you have already received, funeral insurance policies and the burial.
Once you have completed the application process and received your application number, you can submit the required documents:
- By mail
- Via fax
- Through the online portal at fema.gov
About 3-5 days after applying, FEMA will send a letter with information about the available assistance and a list of required documents.
If approved, you will have the option to receive funds directly via check or direct deposit.
FEMA will need the following documents:
- A copy of the death certificate. The death certificate must state that the cause of death “was caused by,” “was likely the result of,” or “may have been caused by” COVID-19. In addition, the death must have been in the United States, the District of Columbia or a U.S. territory.
- Documentation of funeral expenses. These can include a funeral contract, receipts or other documentation showing that you incurred funeral expenses for this individual. The documentation must list: your name as the person responsible for these expenses, the deceased’s name, the date and itemized expenses.
- Proof of funds from other sources designated for funeral costs(if applicable). Life insurance proceeds are exempt.
It may take up to 14 business days for your documents to show up on your case file.
Who is Eligible for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?
You may be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance if:
- You are a U.S. citizen, qualified alien or non-citizen national and incurred funeral expenses on or after January 20, 2020.
- The funeral expenses you incurred were caused by or likely caused by COVID-19.
Only qualifying individuals can apply for COVID-19 funeral assistance. Funeral homes, religious orders, businesses and organizations cannot submit applications on a person’s behalf or receive funding on their behalf.
FEMA can only provide assistance directly to eligible applicants. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that funeral bills are paid.
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is a one-time payment, so you cannot apply again if you incur additional funeral costs after you receive the funds.
Who is NOT Eligible for Assistance?
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is not available for:
- Organizations, businesses or other entities.
- Minor children applying for adults who are not U.S. citizens, qualified aliens or non-citizen nationals. Minors mayapply if the adult wasa U.S. citizen, qualified alien or non-citizen national.
- Certain categories of aliens, including international students, temporary visa holders, holders of temporary work visas, citizens of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.
Remember – funeral homes and religious orders cannot apply on your behalf, act as your co-applicant or receive the funds on your behalf.
Can an Applicant Apply for Assistance for
More Than One Deceased Individual?
If you incurred funeral expenses for more than one individual whose death was caused by or likely caused by COVID-19, you might receive:
- Up to $9,000 per individual.
- A maximum of $35,000 per application.
Can You Apply Before Incurring Funeral Expenses?
FEMA states that applicants are not required to pay for funeral expenses before receiving assistance. When applying, you must provide FEMA with:
- A signed funeral home contract
- Other legal documents showing that you incurred funeral expenses for an individual's COVID-19 related death in the U.S.
Can You Apply if You’ve Already Applied for a Recent Disaster?
Yes. FEMA states that you may apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance even if you recently applied for disaster assistance for home or personal property damage.
Are Pre-Paid or Pre-Planned Funerals Eligible?
No. Funds designated specifically for funeral costs are considered a duplication and ineligible for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. These may include:
- Pre-paid trusts specifically for funeral costs
- Pre-paid or pre-planned funeral contracts
- Funeral insurance proceeds
- Irrevocable trusts for Medicaid
- Funeral assistance from other organizations, government agencies or programs or other sources
Funding from any of these sources will reduce any COVID-19 Funeral Assistance you may be eligible for.
Any questions should be relayed to a FEMA representative when calling the hotline.
Please note that FEMA does not consider any proceeds from life insurance policies or types of assistance that are not specifically for funeral costs.
What if More Than One Individual Paid for the Funeral Expenses?
According to FEMA, funeral expenses for a deceased individual should be submitted via a single application. However, one co-applicant can be included with your application.
If multiple contributed, FEMA recommends having one individual apply and submit documentation from all persons who contributed for that single application.
What if an Application is Not Approved?
Can You Appeal the Decision?
Yes. You have up to 60 days to appeal the decision by submitting an appeal letter via written mail, fax or through the online portal.
FEMA states that the appeal letter should be signed and include the following information:
- Your full name
- FEMA disaster number and application number
- Current address and phone number
- Reasons why you are appealing FEMA’s decision
- Documents to support your argument, such as a death certificate, signed statement, invoice, etc.
What Expenses are Covered?
Eligible expenses for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance include:
- Funeral services
- Burial plots
- Cremation niches
- Transfer of remains
- Headstone or marker
- Transportation expenses for up 2 individuals to identify the deceased
- Funeral arrangements, including officiant or clergy services
- Costs associated with producing death certificates
- Costs associated with the use of funeral home staff and equipment
- Any additional expenses mandated by state or local laws
No gaps in funding have been identified, so qualifying individuals are encouraged to submit an application.
Is There a Deadline for Applications?
No. There is currently no deadline for applications for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.
What is the Average Cost of a Funeral?
Data from recent surveys show that the average funeral can cost anywhere from $6,000 to $9,500 or more. Many families struggle to cover these costs, especially when a death is unexpected as with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even when costs are covered, families may have a little leftover for the purchase of urns or other memorial items to remember and honor their loved ones.
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance can help eliminate some or all of these expenses, allowing families to purchase the urns, keepsakes or remembrance items of their choosing.
Remembering Your Loved One
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance from FEMA can help alleviate some of the stress and financial burden of funeral costs for qualifying families. Eliminating or reducing these costs allows families to purchase urns of their choosing that may have been out of reach otherwise.
The Wings of Hope collection is exclusive to GetUrns and inspired by the grace and beauty of the butterfly.
Butterflies are symbols of freedom, rebirth, transformation and peace. They begin their lives as caterpillars and transform into beautiful butterflies, soaring into the heavens above.
The Wings of Hope collection embodies all that a butterfly represents and is available in beautiful, vibrant colors.
- Adult, medium and keepsake urns are available.
- Each butterfly is handmade by skilled artisans.
- Urns can be laser engraved and personalized.
- Pearl, blue and lavender colors are available.
Elegant and meaningful, the Teardrop collection features beautiful brass urns in a tear drop shape. Tear drops are symbolic of grief and the emotions we all experience with losing a loved one.
The outer body of the tear drop features a vibrant, smooth and glossy finish. The inner curved body features either a hammered (textured) or brushed pewter (smooth) finish.
Urns are available in adult, medium and keepsake sizes with two-tone finishes:
- Black and silver
- Bronze and gold
Handmade by skilled artisans, the Teardrop collection is stunning and a beautiful way to remember your loved one.
What better way to remember and honor your loved one than with a beautiful heart shaped urn? Hearts are the universal symbol of love, both romantic and familial.
Elegantly shaped, these heart-shaped urns and keepsakes are available in vibrant red, white pearl, pink and blue. A genuine Swarovski crystal sits at the top left curve of the heart for an added touch of elegance.
- Adult, medium and keepsake options are available.
- Personalization is available to commemorate your loved one.
With a hand-painted iridescent finish, the LoveHeart™ collection functions as both a work of art and a way to keep your loved one with you forever.
Keepsakes and Jewelry
Cremation jewelry and keepsakes are available for each of the collections above, providing you with further opportunity to honor and commemorate your loved one.
Our stunning and elegant LoveUrns Treasure collection of cremation jewelry features genuine sterling silver. Some pieces also feature gold vermeil or rhodium plating.
Pieces in our collection include:
- Eternity™: An elegant sterling silver pendant cast in gold vermeil with a beautiful crystal at the center.
- Heartfelt™: A two-tone, heart-shaped pendant with gold vermeil and a smooth finish. A delicate crystal sits at the center of the heart, where the gold and silver tones meet.
- Wings of Hope™: Complementing our butterfly-shaped urns, this 925 sterling silver pendant is available in vibrant lavender (with pink accents), blue or white pearl.
- Sea Shell™: For the pearl of your heart, this seashell-shaped pendant features gold vermeil and an elegant pearl at the center of the shell.
- Tree of Life™: Featuring two-tone sterling silver with green accents and a tree design, this piece symbolizes growth and immortality. Leaves of the trees alternate between gold and silver.
- Leaning Heart™: Honor your lost four-legged companion with this beautiful 925 sterling silver pendant with paw prints.
These are just a few of the many beautiful cremation jewelry pieces in our LoveUrns Treasure collection. Each piece has room for a pinch of ashes. It’s a subtle way to remember your loved ones who have passed on.
In addition to our elegant and refined cremation jewelry, you can purchase or add keepsakes to your order to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to remember and honor your loved one. Personalization may also be added to include a heartfelt message and your loved one’s name.
FEMA’s COVID-19 funeral assistance options are available in every state in the country. Over $1.6 billion dollars have already been distributed to families of loved ones that died due to the coronavirus.
However, reports across the country confirm that far too many people do not apply for FEMA aid.
Currently, 247,000 people had their funeral expenses covered between January 20, 2020 and January 3, 2022. Unfortunately, many families, especially in the state of Florida, have failed to apply for assistance.
If a loved one died from COVID-19 and is a legal citizen, you can request a reimbursement of their funeral expenses. However, the applicant must be the individual that paid for the funeral costs and documentation must be provided.
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