Beginning this month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be providing financial assistance for funeral expenses of up to $9,000 incurred after Jan. 20, 2020, as a result of deaths that were related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The funding is made possible by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 as well as the American Rescue Act of 2021. Individuals who wish to receive assistance must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or qualified aliens. The death must have occurred in the United States after Jan. 20, 2020, and must have been attributed to the COVID-19 virus as stated by the death certificate.
“It’s difficult enough for families to deal with the emotional repercussions of losing someone in the midst of a pandemic,” said Matthew Fiorillo, owner of Ballard-Durand Funeral & Cremation Services. “Add to that the financial toll of unexpectedly having to pay for services, and you are placing an enormous burden on families who lost a loved one to the virus.”
Applicants must be able to supply a variety of official documents in order to receive aid, including but not limited to a death certificate and funeral expense documents such as receipts and contracts, as well as proof of funds received from other sources that were specifically used for funeral costs.
Application appointments will be conducted over the phone with a FEMA representative. Those found eligible will be able to receive their assistance via a check by mail or direct deposit. Funds are limited, so applications should be submitted as soon as possible.
Though, of course, this small gift cannot replace the loved one who was lost or assuage the grief left behind, FEMA hopes that this initiative will lift some of the financial burden caused by the pandemic. The government agency continues to look for ways that it can support the nation following this extremely challenging time.
“We were all affected by this virus, directly or indirectly,” said Joseph Schuka, funeral director at Libby Funeral & Cremation Services. “In the funeral profession, we’re used to seeing families in crisis, but this was something different. No one was prepared to deal with this level of tragedy, and we’re just glad to see that measures are being taken to help one another get through it.”