Funeral Assistance FAQ
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Only individuals who incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses are eligible to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. FEMA will not provide COVID-19 Funeral Assistance funds to states, tribes, territories, businesses, organizations, and other entities.
FEMA will not provide COVID-19 Funeral Assistance funds to states, tribes, territories, businesses, organizations, and other entities. The burial society would need to provide an itemized bill to the society member. The society member would then submit the bill to FEMA as part of their application for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.
FEMA expanded the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Interim Policy to assist with COVID-19 related deaths that occurred in the early months of the pandemic, before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance on death certification. This policy change allows applicants to submit a signed statement from the certifying official on the death certificate, local medical examiner, or local coroner that links the death to COVID-19 for deaths that occurred between Jan. 20 and May 16, 2020.
Following consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FEMA believes the largest number of undiagnosed COVID-19 cases likely happened early in the pandemic and prior to the implementation of CDC’s national guidance on death certification related to COVID-19.
No. The signed statement must accompany the death certificate. The letter must also include a causal pathway, or explanation, linking the cause of death on the death certificate to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many. If you need help or support, please:
- Call or text the Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 for immediate help and support.
- Visit the American Red Cross Virtual Family Assistance Center website, or call 833-492-0094, for comfort, support, information, and resource referrals if you have suffered loss due to COVID-19. All support is provided virtually and is completely confidential.
No. The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories or the District of Columbia.
While FEMA does not require a certified copy of the death certificate, you should follow state law when submitting documentation, as some states do not allow vital records to be copied, scanned, or electronically transmitted.
COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is a type of assistance provided under the FEMA Individuals and Households Program (IHP) that is available to U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or qualified aliens. The FEMA Individual Assistance Program and Policy Guide provides the following definitions:
- U.S. Citizen: A person born in one of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands; a person born outside of the U.S. to at least one U.S. parent; or naturalized citizen.
- Non-Citizen National: A person born in an outlying possession of the U.S. (e.g., American Samoa or Swain's Island) on or after the date the U.S. acquired the possession, or a person whose parents are U.S. non-citizen nationals. All U.S. citizens are U.S. nationals; however, not every U.S. national is a U.S. citizen.
- Qualified Alien: Legal permanent resident ("green card" holder); an asylee, refugee, or an alien whose deportation is being withheld; alien paroled into the U.S. for at least one year; alien granted conditional entry (per law in effect prior to April 1, 1980); Cuban/Haitian entrant; aliens in the U.S. who have been abused, subject to battery or extreme cruelty by a spouse or other family/household member, or have been a victim of a severe form of human trafficking; aliens whose children have been abused and alien children whose parent has been abused who fit certain criteria.
There are several categories of aliens lawfully present in the U.S. who are not eligible for assistance under the FEMA Individuals and Households Program, including COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. These include, but are not limited to:
- Citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands
- Temporary tourist visa holders
- Foreign students
- Temporary work visa holders
After you apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance by calling the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline, the FEMA representative will provide a FEMA application number. You will need to include this number on any documentation you submit to FEMA, or if you call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline to ask questions about your application.
Within 3 to 5 business days after you apply, FEMA will send you a letter with information about COVID-19 Funeral Assistance and a list of documents you must submit.
If you use a relay service such as a videophone, Innocaption or CapTel, please provide FEMA with the specific number assigned to you for that service so that FEMA can contact you.