FEMA assisting families who suffered loss due to COVID

TAYLOR COUNTY — Losing a loved one is never an easy process, and the financial burden left on some families can be somewhat overwhelming. To assist those who have lost family members due to the pandemic, help is available.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) instituted a program in early April aimed at helping families who had incurred funeral expenses due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the initiative, funded using federal stimulus dollars, FEMA has set aside monies to help ease some of the financial stress and burden that families experienced, aiding those who lost a loved one with financial assistance.

“At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters,” said Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate.”

To be eligible for the COVID-19 funeral assistance endeavor, the applicant must have incurred funeral expenses due to the virus after January 20, 2020, with the death occurring in the United States.

FEMA notes that the money is to be used to help with the cost of funeral services, interment or cremation expenses. In addition, costs for caskets, urns, burial plots, cremation niches, markers, headstones, clergy or officiant service and the use of the funeral home will all fall within the scope of the assistance.

In addition, said applicant must retain citizenship, be a non-citizen national or even a qualified alien.

FEMA reports that an applicant may apply for multiple deceased family members, however the maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and $35,500 per application stands.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 funeral assistance policy states that if multiple individuals paid out for the funeral costs, those involved should apply under the same application, as applicant and co-applicant.

“FEMA will also consider documentation from other individuals not listed as the applicant or co-applicant who many have incurred funeral expenses as part of the registration for the deceased individual,” the policy reads.

Applying for financial assistance is simple, and FEMA workers are ready to assist families. To request aid, individuals should call 844-684-6333 or for TTY, dial 800-462-7585, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.

Those using a relay service, such as videophone, Innocaption or CapTel, should provide the number assigned specifically to that service, so that FEMA may make contact.

Currently, there is no online application process.

According to FEMA, the application process will take approximately 20 minutes, and individuals are encouraged to ask any questions they might have.

To help speed up the process, applicants are asked to have ready their loved one’s official death certificate indicating the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms, along with funeral expense documentation and proof of funds received from any other sources to assist with the funeral costs.

FEMA notes that assistance from their program, “may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, governmental programs or agencies, or other sources.”

Once a claim is submitted, an application number will be assigned and required documentation will need to be sent to FEMA and can be done by uploading to disasterassistance.gov, faxed to 855-261-3452 or mailed to P.O. Box 10001, Hyattsville, MD 20782.

Following the submission and verification of all documentation, applicants can see payout in as little as 30 days.

For more information on the program or to access frequently asked questions, please visit https://www.fema.gov/disaster/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance#apply.