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FEMA money to pay for Covid deaths—last updated April 13, 2021

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has announced that it will begin applications for reimbursement for funeral expenses of deaths due to Covid.


Here are some questions and answers. Please know that the details below are all the details we have. To check for updates to the program, visit FEMA’s website.


Q: Who will qualify to have their funeral costs reimbursed?

A: Only those families/persons who experienced a death that was caused by Covid. Covid must be explicitly listed on the death certificate as the cause of death.

Q: Did the death from Covid have to occur within a certain time frame to qualify?

A: Yes. The death must have occurred on or after January 20, 2020. It appears this program will be available for Covid deaths throughout 2021 and beyond. From FEMA:

Passing of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 now makes it possible for families and individuals who incur funeral expenses due to COVID-19 in 2021 and beyond the ability to apply for Funeral Assistance. Since there is no way to predict how many COVID-related deaths may occur between now and 2025, an exact funding cap has not been established.

Q: Will FEMA advance me money upfront to pay for a Covid death funeral?

A: No. Do not contract for a funeral that you cannot afford, assuming that you’ll get a grant to pay that funeral in time. You will have to pay for the funeral yourself first, in any case.

Q: How much will FEMA reimburse?

A: Up to $9,000. But we are uncertain, as these reports contradict the langauge in the federal legislation that authorized this money. That legislation gives a different amount. We have not received an answer about this discrepancy.

NOTE!—FEMA will NOT reimburse funeral costs that you have already found money to pay for. For example, if you had a life insurance policy that covered part or all of the cost, or if you did a fundraiser to help pay for the funeral, you will not be reimbursed by FEMA for the money from the insurance or the fundraiser.

Q: What agency should I call to start my application?

A: You must call FEMA’s dedicated line, 844-684-6333. There is no online application. You must apply by phone.

Q: What should I do to prepare for filing my application?

A: We suggest you gather the following. This is advice based on our experience, but we do not know for certain what documentation FEMA will required.

—A certified copy (not a photocopy, an official document from the vital statistics office in your state) of the death certificate. Remember that Covid must be explicitly listed as the cause of death.

—A copy of the complete funeral contract, itemized bill, and documentation of any payment you made on that bill. For example, canceled checks, credit card statements, etc.

—Documenation of any and all sources of money you received that helped you pay for some or all of the funeral. This includes things like receipts showing your fundraising total, or copies of any payments the deceased’s life insurance company made toward the funeral.

Check back here for new details as they become available.

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