Sen. Schumer, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez Announce Critical New Details On FEMA Funeral Assistance Program
Maximum Financial Assistance Will Now Be $9,000 Per Funeral
Schumer, Ocasio-Cortez: Now Is The Time For Applicants To Gather Relevant Documentation
Application Expected To Open In Early April
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) shared additional information about the funeral assistance program with the offices of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Most notably, FEMA shared that the maximum financial assistance will now be $9,000 per funeral.
Additionally, FEMA will only award COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for a deceased individual on a single application. If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should register under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. The applicant or co-applicant must have incurred the funeral expenses. The deceased individual’s documentation status is not considered as part of the reimbursement process, but the applicant(s) must be U.S. citizens, legal residents, asylees, refugees, or non-citizen nationals.
Now is the time for families to decide who the applicant and any co-applicants will be and to gather the documents they need to be reimbursed for expenses.
Specifically, the applicant must provide the following documents:
1) a copy of the death certificate.The death certificate must indicate the death "may have been caused by" or "was likely a result of" COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are also considered sufficient.
2) proof of funeral expenses incurred. Documentation (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) must include the applicant's name as the responsible person for the expense, the deceased individual's name, the amount of funeral expenses, and that funeral expenses were incurred after January 20, 2020.
Eligible funeral expenses include but are not limited to:
Transportation for up to 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 multiple death certificates
Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances.
If applicants already received reimbursement for certain funeral expenses through government agencies, voluntary agencies, non-profits, burial or funeral insurance, they cannot resubmit those same expenses for reimbursement through this FEMA-administered program. If you received any outside assistance, you must include documentation of this assistance in your application. If you received financial assistance through the deceased’s life insurance policy, you may still apply for reimbursement.
Senator Schumer and Representative Ocasio-Cortez have worked closely with FEMA to develop the funeral assistance program, after establishing and extending it through the December and March COVID-19 relief packages.
“Too many families and friends across New York have paid the ultimate price with the tragic loss of their loved ones to the coronavirus. The economic upheaval and added financial strain of this pandemic makes the added cost of funerals and burials unbearable for so many who have already lost so much. This historic use of FEMA’s funeral assistance program is much needed aid to those who need it most, and that is why Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and I worked so hard to deliver this with FEMA—and we got it done. Now that the details are finalized, we are working to get the word out, to make sure eligible families know the application will open next month, how to prepare, and that help will be available through a dedicated 800 number, that will be announced soon,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer in a statement.
“This effort began over a year ago when community leaders in NY-14 flagged the disparate impact of COVID-19 in working-class areas, compounded with the devastating economic impact of funeral expenses. I’m so relieved that soon our families will finally be able to access relief, and I’m grateful to FEMA for working with us to make this program inclusive, generous and easily accessible,” said Rep. Ocasio-Cortez in a statement.
“At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during, and after disasters,” Acting FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many. We cannot change the outcome of what has happened, but we are dedicated to helping families with the substantial cost of funerals and burials that so many weren’t expecting.”
At this time, a deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance has not been established and we expect the application period to open in early April. Additional information on the Program can be found here, COVID-19 Funeral Assistance | FEMA.gov, and will be updated as more details become available.
Media can direct their questions to firstname.lastname@example.org (Ocasio-Cortez), Paige_Tepke@schumer.senate.gov (Schumer) and Michael.Hart@fema.dhs.gov (FEMA)