If You Lost a Family Member to COVID, You Could Get Help With Funeral Costs

Beth Pardo and her daughter Zoe Ko view a burial service for Winifred Pardo via video conference, in Orefield, Pa., in April 2020. When 91-year-old Pardo died, presumably from COVID-19, her family was in other states and couldn't attend the funeral because of the coronavirus pandemic. So a Brooklyn funeral director turned to people in her own neighborhood for help. And people responded. One woman did some embroidery for the casket. Others sent over lilacs and daffodils. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Patrick Berkery

March 16, 2022

Families who lost loved ones to COVID-19 can get up to $9,000 to cover funeral costs through FEMA’s Funeral Assistance program.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is redoubling efforts in Pennsylvania to raise awareness of its program that provides funeral assistance for families of people who have died from COVID-19.

FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program provides up to $9,000 per funeral and covers COVID-19 related deaths since Jan. 20, 2020. Since the program launched in April 2021, it has provided more than $2 billion nationally to help cover funeral costs for more than 300,000 families of people who died from COVID-19. 

This week, FEMA rolled out a new ad campaign in underserved communities in Pennsylvania, targeting areas with large rates of COVID-19 deaths but lower rates of reimbursement requests to help connect people to available assistance. To date, Pennsylvania families have received more than $100 million through the program.

The program covers expenses for funeral services, cremation, and interment, including the costs of caskets or urns, burial plots or cremation niches, markers or headstones, transportation or transfer of remains, clergy or officiant services, and the use of funeral home equipment or staff.

Eligibility requirements:

  • For deaths that occurred from Jan. 20 to May 16, 2020, families must provide death certificates along with a signed statement from a medical examiner, coroner, or the certifying official listed on the certificate indicating that COVID-19 was the cause or a contributing cause of death.
  • Death certificates for those who died after May 16, 2020 must indicate that the death was attributed to COVID-19.
  • Applicants must be a US citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

FEMA does not accept online applications for the program. Those eligible should call the agency’s helpline at 844-684-6333, ​​from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Mondays to Fridays, where they will be prompted to submit the required documentation. FEMA said the application process takes approximately 20 minutes. There is currently no deadline to apply.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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