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By Miriam Raftery

Image via Pixabay

January 17, 2022 (Washington D.C.) – Over 850,000 Americans have died of COVID-19.  But many families don’t know about a federal program that can pay for funeral expenses such as burial or cremation. 

The program will pay up to $9,000 per death, or a maximum of $35,000 per application if an applicant paid for funerals for multiple people.

Eligibility requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien;
  • You paid funeral expenses on or after January 20, 2020 for a person who died in the U.S. or its territories;
  • The death must have been caused by, or likely caused by COVID-19.

Applications are taken only by phone, not online.  To apply, call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Hotline at 844-684-6333  Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time. Help is available in multiple languages.

There is also a TTY number for those with hearing or speech disabilities: 880 362 7585.

The program is funded through Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) .

Required Documents

  • Official death certificate that shows the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and District of Columbia.
  • If the death certificate was issued between Jan. 20 and May 16, 2020, it must either 1) attribute the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 or 2) be accompanied by a signed statement from the original certifier of the death certificate or the local medical examiner or coroner from the jurisdiction in which the death occurred listing COVID-19 as a cause or contributing cause of death. This signed statement must provide an additional explanation, or causal pathway, linking the cause of death listed on the death certificate to COVID-19.
  • If the death certificate occurred on or after May 17, 2020, the death certificate must attribute the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19.

If you are eligible for funeral assistance, you will receive funds by direct deposit or a check by mail, depending on which option you chose when you applied for assistance.

Eligible COVID-19 Funeral Assistance expenses typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Funeral services
  • Cremation
  • Interment
  • 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
  • Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates
  • Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances

You can find more information on the program at https://www.fema.gov/disaster/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.

Get answers to frequently asked questions about the application process on the Funeral Assistance FAQ page.


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