COVID-19 Funeral Reimbursement: What to Know and How to Apply
If a relative died due to COVID-19, you may be entitled to reimbursement for funds spent on the funeral. Here’s what you need to know when it comes to government assistance with COVID-19. We’ll be consistently updating it with new information as it becomes available, so be sure to stay informed by revisiting the article from time to time.
Who is eligible to receive funds for coronavirus-related funeral costs?
The eligibility requirements for receiving funds related to coronavirus funeral expenses have yet to be released and are not concrete. That being said, those who incurred funeral expenses between January 20th, 2020 and December 31st, 2020 may be eligible to receive these funds. Unfortunately, funerals expenses incurred in 2021 are not currently eligible for reimbursement under the current guidelines.
“If you are a family who couldn't afford or had to just stretch, went without rent or went without food or anything else so you might give your loved one a decent funeral and burial, you can get reimbursed for up to $9,000 from FEMA”, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said at a press conference on Monday.
How much money will you receive?
According to the December COVID-19 relief bill, Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) intends on reimbursing families up to $9,000 for coronavirus-related funeral expenses and burial costs.
At this time, it is unclear what factors make you eligible for this reimbursement and how they will determine who receives the full amount versus just a portion of the funds available. These funds will be sent by mail or by direct deposit.
What kind of expenses are eligible for reimbursement?
While there isn’t an official list for the items eligible for reimbursement with the newest COVID-19 funeral assistance, there is a precedent for FEMA covering funeral expenses due to natural disasters. Here is a list of expenses that FEMA has listed as eligible expenses for interment in the past:
The following items are eligible expenses for both internment or reinterment:
- Transfer of remains
- Casket or urn
- Burial plot or cremation niche
- Marker or headstone
- Funeral services
- Clergy / officiant services
- Transportation for up to two people to identify the body of the deceased, if this identification is a requirement by STTL - government authorities
- Costs that are associated with producing & certifying up to 5 death certificates
- Additional expenses mandated by applicable STTL government ordinances or laws
How do you apply for COVID-19-related funeral reimbursement?
At this time, there is no official way to apply for COVID-19-related funeral expense reimbursement. FEMA is actively putting together a plan and policies to support families looking to have funeral expenses reimbursed. This process will likely take time to implement, with FEMA stating an announcement will be made later this year with steps on how to apply.
In the interim, FEMA will be creating a hotline for families to get information on how to be reimbursed. It is suggested that families interested in reimbursement begin to gather and prepare any documentation they have related to funeral expenses, such as contracts, receipts, and paperwork from their chosen funeral home, crematory, cemetery, etc.
What information will you need in order to apply?
The application process will take place over the phone, so it's recommended that you have this information available and organized before you begin the application. You will need to provide:
- The Social Security for both the applicant and for the deceased
- The date of birth of both the applicant and the deceased
- The applicant's current mailing address
- The applicant's telephone number
- The address (or location) where the deceased passed away
- Information about relevant burial insurance or funeral insurance policies
- Information about any other financial assistance for the funeral, such as donations
- Information on any CARES Act grants or assistance from any other voluntary organizations
- The routing and account number for the checking / savings account if direct deposit is requested
What documentation is needed?
The most important pieces are to provide a death certificate, proof of the funeral expenses that were incurred and proof of any financial assistance you received from any sources to help with funeral expenses. For a full list of documentation, be sure to look over FEMA's guidelines.
When can you expect to receive more information / funds?
At this time, FEMA estimates families will be able to begin applying for these relief funds on Monday, April 12th through FEMA's dedicated phone line. To stay up to date with information on the application process and eligibility, you’ll need to visit FEMA’s official website. For more information on the entirety of the COVID-19 relief bill, head here.
What can you do if you need funeral funds now?
Since it’s likely that FEMA will not start accepting applications for reimbursement until the end of the year, many families are still struggling to cover funeral expenses. If you’re in need of emergency funeral funds or funds to cover unexpected costs related to a death, starting a funeral fundraiser is a quick and simple way to start getting some financial support. Once you set up your funeral fundraiser, you’ll be able to collect donations from your friends and family who are likely already looking for ways they can best support you.