FEMA to reimburse funeral expenses

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is taking applications for expense reimbursements from people who have paid for funerals in connection with deaths caused directly or indirectly by COVID-19.

Applicants are being reimbursed up to $9,000 per funeral and may receive reimbursements for more than one funeral, according to FEMA. The funeral expenses must have been incurred after Jan. 20, 2020, in the United States, including the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

To apply, call 1-844-684-6333/TTY: 1-800-462-7585 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. CDT, Monday through Friday. FEMA began taking applications April 12 and said it has been experiencing high call volumes.

Applications are not being taken online, so anyone who calls the toll-free FEMA telephone number and is unable to get through should wait and try again. The application process should take about 20 minutes, according to FEMA.

Jerry Roberts, director of Osage County Emergency Management, has been spreading the word about the funeral expense reimbursement program. Roberts said a brief notice about applying for the reimbursements is posted on his agency’s Facebook page. That notice includes the FEMA phone number.

“I just think it would be real good for anybody that has experienced a death in the family, because $9,000 is a lot of money,” Roberts said.

Applicants will need an official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19, and that shows the death took place in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

Applicants will also need funeral expense documents – things like a funeral home contract and receipts – that include the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of the funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses were incurred.

Additionally, applicants will need documentation of funds from other sources, specifically for use toward funeral costs.

FEMA can provide information to applicants about how to submit documentation needed for the review and approval of their applications.

If they are eligible for benefits, applicants can receive payment by check or by direct deposit. Applicants must be U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals or qualified aliens. There is no requirement for the deceased to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien.

FEMA said it has received reports about scammers offering to register people for funeral assistance. FEMA said it does not contact people before they register for assistance.