FEMA Funeral Assistance Helping to Ease the Burden of COVID-19

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As of February 28, FEMA has approved over $1.9 billion in assistance to help people with COVID-19-related funeral expenses. While the assistance we provide can never replace the loss of a loved one, FEMA is working tirelessly with applicants to ease some of the burden of this devastating pandemic.

The positive impacts of COVID-19 Funeral Assistance are evident in the stories we hear from the people we serve. These are excerpts from just a few of the letters from individuals who applied for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance:

“I just received my deposit from FEMA Disaster Assistance. This deposit covers both the funeral and burial expenses of my mother who died from COVID. She fought bravely against the virus … it is very hard to accept the fact that she is no longer with us. That's why I am addressing this letter to FEMA, to show my deepest gratitude for the financial assistance in matter of burial and funeral expenses provided to me.”

“I want to thank you for taking the time to review our family's application toward the reimbursement of funds for my dad's funeral. My dad was a phenomenal human and I thank you, FEMA, for taking his passing in such regards. We are grateful.”

“I would like to thank the agent for her professional skill in assisting me with the COVID Funeral process … The agent made this process, well enjoyable if that word can even be attached to the process … she assisted in a way that lifted some of the burden off my shoulders. In my career, I often never get any positive feedback and I am sure it is the same with FEMA and those on the frontline on the phones.”

This is the first time, in the history of the agency, that FEMA has provided funeral assistance to all 50 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Columbia at the same time. This financial assistance program is funded by both the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

To capture all relevant information and ensure personal, empathetic, and considerate customer assistance, FEMA is accepting applications for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance only by phone.

FEMA is reaching out to underserved and vulnerable populations to ensure that assistance is distributed equitably. Our targeted outreach includes messaging in areas with high COVID-19 related deaths, contacting applicants to encourage them to submit documents and complete applications and providing interpreters in over 75 languages. 

We recently hired a contractor to tailor media efforts aimed at better educating communities on how to apply for assistance and how to submit all required documents for existing applications.

In addition to these efforts, we are reaching out directly to applicants answering questions and helping them complete applications. FEMA Helpline representatives have made over 61,000 calls to individuals who were missing documents needed to process their application and have mailed over 525,000 letters to applicants. 

FEMA constantly reviews and evaluates COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, adapting and revising our processes to improve service. We are examining data to see if there are barriers to assistance and looking for ways to reach more people by making improvements to enhance outreach, processing, equity and inclusion. 

As FEMA, and the entire nation, continue monitoring and adjusting to the ongoing and changing demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing remains unchanged: the commitment of FEMA employees. Helpline representatives continue to demonstrate FEMA’s core values of compassion, fairness, integrity, and respect in their daily contact with applicants.

To apply, please contact the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 844-684-6333, Monday to Friday, 9am-9pm EST. Individuals who use a relay service are encouraged to provide FEMA with the specific number assigned to them so FEMA representatives can contact them.

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