NFDA recently wrapped up a series of webinars with FEMA to explain the agency’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, which Congress authorized under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
On April 12, 2021, FEMA will begin to process applications for individuals who incurred funeral expenses related to COVID-19. At this time, there is no deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, and FEMA recommends gathering the required information before calling to apply.
Nancy Casper, FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer and COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Task Force Leader, and Lesley Witter, NFDA senior vice president of advocacy, used the forum to explain FEMA’s unprecedented, nationwide implementation of COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. Under the legislation, individuals who incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses after January 20, 2020, may be eligible for financial assistance.
Casper explained that an individual applying for FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien and must have incurred a portion of the COVID-19-related funeral expenses. There is no requirement for the decedent to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien; however, the death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, or the District of Columbia.
Under this program, the maximum financial assistance is $9,000 per funeral. So, if an applicant provides receipts for $5,000 in eligible expenses, that’s the maximum they may receive. If an applicant provides receipts for $10,000 in eligible expenses, they may receive up to $9,000, as that is the maximum allowed. There is also a maximum of $35,500 for each application per state or territory in cases where the applicant incurred expenses for multiple COVID-19-related funerals.
After the webinars, FEMA released the separate, toll-free COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline telephone number, 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585), that the agency will activate on April 12, 2021, for individuals to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. Once applicants have all the information they need to apply, a FEMA representative will help complete the application and provide information on how to submit required documentation, which can be uploaded, faxed, or mailed to the agency. There is no rush to apply, as at this time, there is no deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.
Important Information and Resources for Funeral Directors and Consumers
- Please help to inform consumers how they can continue to protect themselves from potential fraud. Individuals should not provide personal information to anyone who offers to register them for FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. FEMA does not send any notifications soliciting personal information, and FEMA does not contact individuals prior to the individual registering for assistance.
- If an individual doubts a FEMA representative is legitimate, they should hang up the phone and report the call to FEMA or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Complaints also may be made by contacting local law enforcement agencies.
- Encourage consumers to visit the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance web page on FEMA.gov (www.fema.gov/disasters/coronovirus/economic/funeral-assistance) for the latest information on FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. The page includes links to the policy and Frequently Asked Questions and will be updated as more information becomes available.
- FEMA has prepared a video, which can be found on YouTube, that explains the eligibility and application process to consumers.
- FEMA is also creating FAQs specific to many of the types of questions funeral directors asked during the webinars that NFDA will distribute to its membership once received.
FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance NFDA Member Toolkit
This is your chance to be a leader in your community!
While we recognize that funeral directors are not responsible for administering this assistance, helping to educate the families you serve and your community about this assistance will go a long way in helping families honor the lives of their loved ones. Families and your community will see you as a key resource they can turn to in times of need.
Learn more about an exclusive toolkit to help you reach out to families you have served and your community.