FEMA Has Reimbursed $2 Billion in Funeral Costs for COVID-19 Victims

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Reporter
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
March 16, 2022 Updated: March 16, 2022

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said on Tuesday that its funeral assistance program has reimbursed more than $2 billion in funeral costs for more than 300,000 families of COVID-19 victims.

The COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program provides up to $9,000 per funeral and covers COVID-19 related deaths since Jan. 20, 2020. The average amount awarded per death is $6,500, according to FEMA.

“FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program has helped provide over 300,000 people with critical financial relief during a time of such unexpected, unimaginable and widespread loss,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said in a statement.

The agency announced the assistance program in March last year, saying that it had $2 billion dollars for reimbursements from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.

FEMA said that individuals who applied for the funeral assistance program would be required to present an official death certificate indicating a COVID-19-attributed death, documents showing funeral costs, and proof of funds received from other sources specially used toward funeral costs, such as burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or others.

The COVID-19 related death of a family member or members must have occurred in the United States, including its territories, FEMA said at the time.

The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020, the agency added, noting that there is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

FEMA on Tuesday announced that it has launched a new paid ad campaign in California, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas targeted at areas with large rates of COVID-19 deaths but lower rates of reimbursement requests to help connect people to available assistance. The agency is also reaching out to community groups and local media outlets to help publicize the program.

“These new paid advertisements will be directed to localities identified with high rates of COVID-related deaths, low funeral assistance application rates and high Social Vulnerability Index data,” the press release for FEMA said.

“Our new outreach campaign is designed to reach families, especially across underserved communities, where the cost of a funeral can be a financial burden to a loved one,” said Criswell. “Our goal is to help families apply for assistance, as well as submit all required documents for existing applications.”

Eligible applicants may qualify for up to $9,000 for each deceased individual per application, with a maximum of $35,000 for families who may have multiple funeral expenses due to COVID-19, the agency said.

FEMA is not accepting online applications for the reimbursement program. People eligible are directed to call the agency’s helpline 844-684-6333 where they will be prompted to submit the required documentation.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.