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In early April, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) began providing financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020, for deaths related to COVID-19.   This was pursuant to Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.  On June 29, 2021, FEMA amended the funeral assistance policy to assist with COVID-19 related deaths that occurred in the early months of the pandemic. This policy change will allow applicants to submit a statement or letter from the death certificate’s certifying official, medical examiner, or coroner, that attributes the death to COVID-19 fatalities that occurred between Jan. 20 and May 16, 2020.

The FEMA-administered assistance allows many families to be reimbursed for up to $9000 for funeral expenses for COVID-19-related funeral expenses. To be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance, the policy states:

  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020, for a death attributed to COVID-19.
  • If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. FEMA will also consider documentation from other individuals not listed as the applicant and co-applicant who may have incurred funeral expenses as part of the registration for the deceased individual.
  • An applicant may apply for multiple deceased individuals.
  • The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

This assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application.  Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation.

In response to many questions about the financial assistance, FEMA has produced a video which explains, in detail, the process to be followed by an individual to apply for the financial assistance.

If you are in the funeral services business, it is important that you make your clients aware of this program, however, we strongly discourage your active participation in the actual application process as this must be done specifically by the individual(s) seeking the benefits.   FEMA has posted a “SCAM ALERT” on their funeral assistance webpage stating that scammers are “reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance.”  You do not want to put yourself or your business in a position that may be misconstrued by a grieving client.   You will be doing a great service by providing your client with the basic information and directing them to the FEMA website:  COVID-19 Funeral Assistance | so that they can then follow the instructions clearly outlined by FEMA.

Additional resources from the FEMA website are listed below:

FEMA POLICY: COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

Funeral Assistance FAQ |

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