FEMA funeral assistance for families with a death from Covid-19 has been available since April 2021, yet only half of eligible families have applied for FEMA funeral reimbursement. Some families may not be aware these funds are available.
FEMA authorized $2 billion toward financial assistance for families who paid funeral costs specifically related to Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19). The reimbursement applies to funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020. Funeral assistance claims are capped at $9,000. The average reimbursement is $6,500.
There is currently no deadline to apply and collect the funds.
“I met with a family recently that had a Covid-related death and they had no idea the reimbursement program from FEMA existed. ‘Is this a new thing?’, I was asked,” said Buddy Phaneuf, president of Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium.
Phaneuf’s arrangers are proactive in communicating the FEMA reimbursement program. A FEMA fund handout goes into packets for families. If it is not discussed during the arrangements, Phaneuf follows up with an email on how to apply.
There is no income eligibility for the program.
Why aren’t the funds claimed?
It’s possible that some families have not heard about this national program due to Covid news overload. And some funeral homes may neglect sharing the information with their clients. Perhaps the funeral home isn’t up-to-date on the process or doesn’t have easy access to the information from FEMA.
Importantly, funeral homes do not apply for the funds for families. It is the family’s responsibility. When families do provide information about the death to FEMA, FEMA will likely contact the funeral home for invoices related to the funeral.
The reimbursement process
Start by making a phone call to FEMA at 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585). Call from Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Phaneuf has a thorough page dedicated to the process and eligibility.