No one wants to think about it, but it’s a fact of life. People are dying of COVID. They’re leaving behind families that, in many cases, are already struggling with financial worries. Add in the cost of a funeral, and many will need help.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is stepping in with funding. Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA is offering financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020.
FEMA has started an assistance phone line at 844-684-6333 that’s open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT Monday through Friday. Its representatives will help get applications completed.
The call will take about 20 minutes, so they can get all the details right. Have all your information in front of you before you call.
Once you’re given an application number, you’ll need to send supporting documentation to FEMA, typically by fax or mail. To learn more, go to the FEMA website: www.fema.gov. Scroll down the front page to the item dated April 12, 2021, Funeral Assistance FAQ.
There are a number of criteria to see if you’re qualified for help. You must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien. You must be the one who paid the funeral expenses. Funeral homes cannot call for you. If several of you contributed to the expenses, tell them at FEMA, but typically there needs to be one application.
There are a number of categories of funeral expense that might be covered, including headstone, casket, clergy services and more.
A warning: Scammers are always looking for the next way to con people out of money. Now they’re calling people — possibly those who were listed in funeral notices — and offering to help fill out the applications for assistance. Don’t fall for it. FEMA is not going to call you.