Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

submitted by Jessica Tiburcio, Law Student

Losing a loved one is one of the most tragic imaginable experiences. If you have lost a loved one or loved ones to a COVID-19 related issue, you may qualify for certain eligible funeral expenses under FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program. FEMA Funeral Assistance helps with the cost of unexpected and uninsured expenses associated with deaths of immediate family members attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic incurred after January 20, 2020. FEMA will begin accepting applications on April 12, 2021.

Eligibility Criteria:

To be eligible for Funeral Assistance:

  • The death must have occurred within the U.S., including U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
  • The death certificate must indicate that the death was directly or indirectly attributed to COVID-19.
  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

Documents Required to Apply:

  • An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows the death occurred in the U.S., including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Official documentation from a designated authoritative State or local entity (attending physician, Medical Examiner’s office, or Coroner’s Office) will suffice.
  • Funeral expense documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that includes the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses were incurred.
  • Evidence of an unmet funeral expense (a receipt from a service provider)
  • Proof of funds from other sources that were used toward funeral costs, including benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, Social Security, Veterans Affairs benefits, or other sources.

* Death certificates can be obtained online through the New York State Department of Health at https://www.health.ny.gov/vital_records/death.htm. You may also obtain a Certificate of Death by contacting the City or Town Clerk’s Office or the local Registrar of Vital Statistics where the death occurred.

Common reasons for ineligibility include:

  • The death was not attributed to the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • Funeral expenses are fully covered by other sources of assistance.
  • Insufficient and/or incomplete documentation.

How/Where to Apply:

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number

844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585

Hours of Operation:

Monday through Friday

9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time

Eligible Funeral Expenses:

  • For Expenses Associated with Both Interment and Reinterment
    • Transfer of remains
    • Caskets/urns;
    • Burial plots/cremation niches;
    • Markers/headstones; and
    • Additional state/local/territorial/tribal (SLTT) government-mandated expenses.
  • For Expenses Associated with Interment Only
    • Transportation to identify the deceased (up to two people), if required by SLTT authorities;
    • Interment;
    • Funeral services;
    • Clergy/officiant services; and/or
    • The cost associated with producing and certifying death certificate(s) (up to five).
  • For Expenses Associated with Reinterment Only
    • Reinterment (including costs for preparing and transporting the remains);
    • Funeral services (limited to the preparation and use of facilities to prepare the remains for reinterment); and
    • The cost of identifying disinterred human remains.

* Considerations for determining award amount vary based on funeral expenses that have been covered by other sources, such as burial insurance, financial assistance provided by voluntary agencies, government programs/agencies, or other entities.

Ineligible Funeral Expenses:

  • Obituaries;
  • Flowers;
  • Printed materials (e.g., programs);
  • Catering;
  • Transporting people to funeral services or interment/reinterment sites; and
  • Gratuities

For additional information, please visit FEMA’s website at https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance .

The Center for Elder Law & Justice is here to help. If you have additional questions on FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, or need potential representation involving matters pertaining to the Program such as appealing the award amount or type of assistance, contact our office by calling or emailing free Senior Legal Advice Helpline: 1-844-481-0973 helpline@elderjusticeny.org .  The Helpline is open Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 11:00am EST. Messages may be left outside of these hours and emails may be sent at any time. A licensed attorney will respond to you within 1 business day.



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