FEMA Issues Final Policy for COVID Funeral Reimbursement
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Congress authorized FEMA to provide financial assistance to individuals who incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses after January 20, 2020. Today, FEMA has issued its final policy –which includes details such as eligibility and documentation criteria and the application process –for how funds will be distributed to families. 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:
- 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.
- 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 they received any outside assistance, they must include documentation of this assistance in their application. If they received financial assistance through the deceased’s life insurance policy, they may still apply for reimbursement.
Please review this information carefully so you can be prepared to provide information and technical assistance to families and friends of the deceased who may be eligible.
NFDA will share the final FEMA policy document when it is available.
Free NFDA Members-only Webinar With FEMA – This Thursday, March 25
This is your chance to hear directly from FEMA and to get your questions about the COVID funeral reimbursement answered.
FEMA Presents the Facts on Funeral Funding
March 25, 2021, 12 p.m. CT (No CE hours)
Nancy Casper, CEM COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Task Force Leader, FEMA
Lesley Witter, MPA, CAE Senior Vice President, Advocacy, NFDA
Funeral directors have a crucial role in the end-of-life process, from the guidance and solace you provide to the families and friends of the deceased, to the arrangements you make and the documentation you provide.
On March 25, 2021, NFDA and FEMA will host an initial Zoom session to provide NFDA members with information on the upcoming implementation of FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, including anticipated policy details such as eligibility and documentation criteria, to prepare you to provide technical assistance to families and friends of the deceased who may be eligible. We will follow the briefing with a question and answer session.
Although this first webinar is limited to NFDA members, subsequent offerings will be open to both member and nonmember funeral directors.
The information provided will be a great way to support continued customer service to the families you’ve shepherded through the COVID-19 bereavement process.
Register now – space is limited!