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Change in FEMA Funeral Assistance Eligibility Distributes $10M to New Yorkers

October 7, 2021

New York, NY - A recent change in documentation requirements for FEMA's COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program has led to more than 1,600 New Yorkers receiving $10 million in reimbursement for burial expenses.The change was made after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer heard from New Yorkers who were struggling to access the program because their loved ones' death certificates did not list COVID-19 as the cause of death. This discrepancy was an issue for many New Yorkers who died in the early days of the pandemic because hospitals lacked testing and knowledge of the virus' varied presentations. Consequently, FEMA agreed that applicants for deaths that occurred from January 20 to May 16, 2020 do not have to have the death certificate formally amended. Instead, the applicant can provide a signed letter from the original certifier of the death certificate or the local medical examiner or coroner certifying that the cause of death was likely COVID-19. More information is available here

"From the start, we stressed to FEMA that this program needed to put accessibility first.  We cannot have families, who have already lost so much, burdened by impossible bureaucratic obstacles. We're grateful to FEMA for working with us to make this change so that families in need could get some of the relief they need," said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Schumer in a joint statement. 

Overall, 15,503 New Yorkers have received more than $107 million through the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program. FEMA is still accepting applications. Call 844-684-6333 to apply.