Funeral Assistance for COVID-19 Related Deaths

Joyce B. Robinson

July 21, 2021

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(This article first appeared in the July/August 2021 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine)

Editor’s Note: The text in this article is taken from the Federal Emergency Management Agency Website. For additional information on funeral assistance, visit FEMA’s Q&A page at

To help ease the financial stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation. In accordance with FEMA Policy, the applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020 for a death attributed to COVID-19 in the United States, including the U.S. territories. Assistance is not available for U.S. citizens who died outside the United States.

Funeral Expenses Covered

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance will assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation. Applicants may receive assistance for the funeral expenses of multiple deceased individuals. Assistance is limited to a maximum amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application. Expenses include:

  • Transportation for two individuals to identify the deceased individual;
  • Transfer of remains;
  • Casket or urn;
  • Burial plot or cremation niche;
  • Marker or headstone;
  • Clergy or officiant services;
  • Arrangement of the funeral ceremony;
  • Use of funeral home equipment or staff;
  • Cremation or interment costs;
  • Costs associated with producing and certifying death certificates, and
  • Additional expenses mandated by local or state government laws or ordinances.

Information Required

Applicants must provide the following information when contacting FEMA to register for assistance:

  • Social Security number for the applicant and the deceased individual;
  • Date of birth for the applicant and the deceased individual;
  • Current mailing address and telephone number for the applicant;
  • Location/address where the deceased individual passed away;
  • Burial or funeral insurance policies, and
  • Routing and account number of the applicant’s checking or savings account (for direct deposit, if requested).

Documentation Needed

Also, FEMA will need the documentation listed below to register for assistance:

  • A copy of the death certificate and proof of funeral expenses incurred. The death certificate must indicate the death was caused by, “may have been caused by” or “was likely a result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms.
  • Documentation for expenses (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) must include the applicant’s name as the person responsible for the expense, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and that funeral expenses were incurred after January 20, 2020.
  • Proof of funds received from other sources used for funeral costs. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance or financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government programs or agencies, or other sources. Assistance will be reduced by the amount of other assistance the applicant received for the same expenses.
  • Life insurance proceeds are not considered a duplication of funeral assistance benefits.

How to Apply?

No online applications will be accepted. For assistance contact the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 1 (844) 684-6333 or TTY at 1 (800) 462-7585. FEMA representatives assist in completing applications, Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. If you receive a telephone call or email, and doubt that it is from a legitimate FEMA representative, report it to the FEMA Helpline. Do not disclose information such as the name, birth date or Social Security numbers to unknown sources.

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