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FEMA Assistance

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Congress authorized FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to provide financial assistance to individuals who incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses. Through this program, our government has recognized the great suffering and loss our communities have endured, not only emotionally, but financially too.

The FEMA has authorized $2 billion to provide financial assistance to families who paid for funeral costs specifically related to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). The reimbursement applies to funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020. Claims are capped at $9,000.

O’Connell Family Funeral Homes, a dedicated member of the National Funeral Directors Association, are working closely together to be your local resource for information and guidance to helping families apply for this reimbursement.

“The O’Connell Way certainly does not end with the funeral. Our mission is to continue to be a resource and walk with our families indefinitely. Covid has certainly caused so much pain and suffering for families that reaches far beyond the funeral. This program certainly does not bring their loved one back, but it does helps recover expenses of their untimely goodbye”.

~ Mike O'Connell

COVID-19 FUNERAL ASSISTANCE APPLICATION INFORMATION

844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585

HOURS OF OPERATION: Mon-Fri | 9a.m.to 9p.m. Eastern Time

If you are applying for FEMA’s COVID-19 funeral assistance program, you will need to gather some information and documentation to ensure a smooth process.

After reviewing the checklist to the right, call FEMA’s hotline at 844-684-6333 to get started.

FEMA has been experiencing a high call volume, so if you get a busy signal, try calling again in a few minutes.

In April 2021, FEMA began accepting applications.

Information FEMA will ask for in the call to help process the claim are:

  • Household income (there is no income requirement to apply)
  • Social security number for both the applicant and deceased
  • Information about funeral expenses that were incurred
  • Bank routing info for direct deposit reimbursement. This information is found on a blank check, along with account number.

Following this phone call, FEMA will send a Request for Information letter, which includes access to a secure website login for applicants to upload documents and complete the process. Applicants will be required to upload funeral-related expenses files (in PDF or JPG file formats) to the secure website. Documents can also be faxed or mailed but uploading the documents will get the fastest response.

To be eligible for funeral assistance, you must meet these conditions:

  • The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia on or after January 1, 2020.
  • The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Transportation for up to two individuals to identify the decedent
  • Transfer of remains
  • Casket or urn
  • Burial plot or cremation niche
  • Marker or headstone
  • Clergy or officiant services
  • Arrangement of the funeral ceremony
  • Use of funeral home equipment or staff
  • Interment
  • Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates
  • Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances
The reimbursement process begins by making a phone call. Unfortunately, emailing or logging into a website is not an option at this point; only a phone call. FEMA has created a toll-free number for families to initiate the reimbursement: 844-684-6333; TTY: 800-462-7585   Phone calls will be received from Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., eastern time. FEMA is experiencing a high volume of calls and individuals may encounter a busy signal or longer-than-normal wait times. At this time there is no deadline to apply for funeral assistance. It is important to know that the family will have to apply for this aid as funeral homes CANNOT apply on behalf of a family. The O’Connell Family Funeral Homes can help with some of the documentation that you will need
Please have easy access to any documentation related to funeral expenses as this will speed the process of reimbursement. The O’Connell Family Funeral Homes dedicated Covid team will help you navigate the necessary information FEMA is looking for.

Types of information may include:
  • An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
  • Funeral expense paperwork which includes a statement of funeral goods and services, receipts or expenses incurred on funeral home letterhead, or any other paperwork that shows expenses as a result of a Covid death will be required.  These forms will need to include the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount paid, and the dates the funeral expenses were paid.
  • Pre-paid arrangements are not reimbursable. However, if expenses exceed funeral trusts, they may be eligible.
  • Life insurance assignments made prior to or at the time of death may be reimbursable.

If you are eligible for funeral assistance, you will receive a check by mail, or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option you choose when you apply for assistance. FEMA will verify applicant eligibility prior to awarding funeral assistance. 

  • FEMA will only award Funeral Assistance for a deceased through a single application. If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they must register with FEMA as the applicant and co-applicant. Alternatively, the first applicant that submits all required documentation will be awarded the Funeral Assistance for the deceased.
  • Applicants responsible for funeral expenses for multiple deceased may receive assistance under multiple registrations if the deaths occurred in different States and Territories. Each registration will be associated with the major disaster declaration for the State or Territory in which the death occurred.
  • Benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources are not eligible for reimbursement. 
  • Fraud Alert: FEMA have received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance. FEMA has not sent any such notifications and will not contact people prior to them registering for assistance.
  • Currently, FEMA has no deadline for applying for funeral assistance.

There are many questions that families have when applying for this aid. FEMA has created a frequently asked questions page that maybe helpful. Click here to see them. They have also created a short video outlining the above information. To watch it, click here

O’Connell Family Funeral Home is humbled and committed to carefully help you navigate this process. If you feel that your loved one died from Covid complications, but it was not listed on the death certificate, you may be able to have the death certificate amended. This will require a conversation with the doctor or medical examiner as they would be the ones to file that amendment. This will need to be directed by the family, but O’Connell’s will help you in anyway we can. A decision for a memorial service or graveside service may have been postponed for various reasons, including financial constraints. Now is the time to revisit those conversations. 

 

BELOW IS A LIST OF INFORMATION THAT YOU WILL NEED PRIOR TO YOUR CALL
  • Applicant social security number
  • Applicant name
  • Applicant date of birth
  • Applicant email (optional)
  • Applicant phone numbers
  • Zip code of the place of death
  •  Street address of place of death
  • Applicant’s address
  • County of death/county of applicant’s residence
  • Date the funeral expenses were incurred (Refer to your invoice or funeral bill.)
  • Alternate sources of funding received, i.e. assistance from public or private organizations, donations, or funeral or burial insurance
  • Deceased’s name, social security number and date of birth (For each deceased individual, if applicable.)
  • Co-applicant information (There can be no more than 2 applicants. Provide name, social security number, and date of birth.)
  • Current gross annual income (This information is not used for qualification purposes. Refer to your latest tax return or provide an estimate.)
  • Choose whether you want to receive funds by check or direct deposit (If direct deposit is preferred, have your bank information ready.)
  • Choose whether you want correspondence in English or Spanish
  • Choose whether you want correspondence by email or mail (If email is chosen, go to www.disasterassistance.gov to set up an account. PDF or JPG files may be uploaded directly to this account.)
FEMA will then offer to provide you with contact information for mental health services, if needed.