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COVID-19 funeral assistance money still available

(WDBJ)
Published: Nov. 8, 2021 at 7:30 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - More than 752,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, according to the latest CDC update. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, can reimburse families for up to $9,000 in funeral costs for COVID-related deaths.

Billions of federal dollars were given to FEMA for the program, which is still open to anyone who meets the following criteria and provides proper documentation.

Sammy Oakey, President of Oakey’s funeral service, tells me their chapel has received calls from FEMA, spot-checking to be sure the money is going to the right place.

“With the delta variant, we saw a large increase in the number of deaths. We’ve already done about 224 COVID cases since this whole thing began in March of ‘20, and it’s continuing,” says Oakey.

Although this program emerged long after the largest wave of COVID-related funerals, Oakey says letting people know about the program now can still help take some financial burden off of grieving families.

“It’s also going to make it easier for the funeral director to talk to families about cost knowing there’s going to at least be $9,000 coming to that family,” explains Oakey. “Money is not everything and of course it’s not going to make a family’s suffering go away, but it can ease up a tough time and make it a little bit easier for a family and make it a little bit bearable for them.”

To be eligible:

  • For deaths that occurred after May 16, 2020, the death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
  • For deaths that occurred from Jan. 20 to May 16, 2020, any death certificate that does not attribute the cause of death to COVID-19 must be accompanied by a signed statement listing COVID-19 as a cause or contributing cause of death. The signed statement must be provided by the original certifier of the death certificate or the local medical examiner or coroner from the jurisdiction in which the death occurred. The statement must provide an additional explanation, or causal pathway, linking the cause of death listed on the death certificate to COVID-19.

FEMA amended the program in June, allowing applicants to submit a signed statement from the certifying official on the death certificate or the local medical examiner, or coroner, that attributes the death to COVID-19 deaths that occurred between Jan. 20 and May 16, 2020.

Currently, there is no deadline to apply for assistance.

If you’d like to learn more and apply for assistance, call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 844-684-6333 or text 800-462-7585

Hours of Operation are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.

Get answers to frequently asked questions about the application process on the Funeral Assistance FAQ page.

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