The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the lives of thousands of West Virginia families who have tragically lost a loved one to the coronavirus. In addition to the grief that comes from the loss of a loved one, many families have also suffered financially with the unanticipated costs of giving their loved one a proper burial. As a result of passage of both the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act, both of which Senator Manchin voted for, FEMA has established a Funeral Assistance program to provide reimbursement for COVID-caused funeral and cemetery expenses.
Eligible families will able to apply for up to $9,000 in reimbursement of funeral and cemetery costs. This will provide much needed aid to West Virginia families who have already paid the ultimate price as a result of the pandemic. While no amount of money will ever make up for the loss of a loved one, the FEMA Funeral Assistance Program will alleviate the financial strain that families have endured and help us move forward in recovering from the pandemic and remembering those who fell victim to the virus.
To be eligible for funeral assistance, applicants must meet these conditions:
· The death must have occurred in the United States. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
· The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
The maximum financial assistance under this program will be $9,000 per deceased individual’s funeral. Only one application will be accepted per deceased individual. Individuals who believe they may be eligible should work with others who incurred expenses for a loved one’s funeral and cemetery expenses before applying.
HOW TO APPLY
Applicants may apply by calling 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. Multilingual services are available.
All applicants must provide:
1. A copy of the death certificate. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely a result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are also considered sufficient attribution. If the death certificate does not include reference to COVID-19, the process to change or amend the death certificate starts with contacting the person who certified the death. This may be a treating doctor, or a coroner or medical examiner, and their name and address can be found on the death certificate.
2. Proof of funeral and cemetery expenses incurred. Documentation (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) must include the applicant’s name as the responsible person for the expense, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and that funeral expenses were incurred after January 20, 2020.
Eligible funeral expenses include but are not limited to:
· Transportation for up to two individuals to identify the deceased individual
· 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
· Cremation or interment costs
· Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates
· Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances.
Applicants can visit https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance/faq. For fastest service after you have called to apply, submit documentation online through Disasterassistance.gov, or by fax 855-261-3452. Documents may also be mailed to: COVID-19 Funeral Assistance P.O. Box 10001 Hyattsville, MD 20782.