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Funeral Assistance FAQ

Apply for Assistance

Documentation Needed

After Receiving a Decision

Mental Health

Beware of Scams

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Apply for Assistance

Who can apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

You may qualify if:

  1. You are a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who paid for funeral expenses after January 20, 2020, and
  2. The funeral expenses were for an individual whose death in the United States, territories or the District of Columbia, may have been caused by or was likely the result of COVID-19.

Who cannot apply?

  • A minor child cannot apply on behalf of an adult who is not a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
  • There are several categories of aliens lawfully present in the U.S. who are not eligible for FEMA’s Individual and Households Program assistance, including funeral assistance. These include, but are not limited to:
    • Temporary tourist visa holders
    • Foreign students
    • Temporary work visa holders
    • Habitual residents such as citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

How do I apply?

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number

Applications begin on April 12, 2021
844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Friday
9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time

Call this dedicated toll-free phone number to get a COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application completed with help from FEMA's representatives. Multilingual services will be available.

If you use a relay service, such as your videophone, Innocaption or CapTel, please provide your specific number assigned to that service. It is important that FEMA is able to contact you, and you should be aware phone calls from FEMA may come from an unidentified number.

No online applications will be accepted.

When you call, it should take about 20 minutes to apply. We will not rush through calls because we intend to make sure every applicant gets their questions answered and receives the help they need to apply.

It is important to gather all necessary information and documentation before applying for assistance. This will help us take the application and process it in a timely manner.

Once you have applied and are given an application number, you may provide supporting documentation to FEMA a few ways:

  • Upload to your DisasterAssistance.gov account
  • Fax documents: 855-261-3452.
  • Mail documents: P.O. BOX 10001, Hyattsville, MD 20782

I’m getting a busy signal. What do I do?

  • We are receiving high call volumes, which is causing some technical issues. Some applicants are reaching operators, while others are receiving a busy signal.
  • If your call was not able to connect, please try calling again later. We are working to correct the technical issues. Keep in mind there is no deadline to apply.

Can a funeral home apply on behalf of the family?

Funeral homes are not eligible to apply on behalf of a family or to be a co-applicant on the Funeral Assistance application. The person applying must be an individual, not a business, who incurred the funeral expenses.

What funeral expenses are covered?

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance will assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation. Any receipts received for expenses that are not related to funeral services will not be determined eligible expenses. Expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation typically 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

I was responsible for funeral expenses for more than one person whose death was attributed to COVID-19. Can I apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for more than one death? Is there a limit?

Yes, applicants may receive assistance for the funeral expenses of multiple deceased individuals. 

Assistance is limited to a maximum of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application per state, territory, or the District of Columbia.  

Someone else helped me pay for funeral expenses. Can they apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

FEMA will generally only provide COVID-19 Funeral Assistance to one applicant per deceased individual.

To be approved for reimbursement of funeral expenses due to a COVID-19 fatality, you must have incurred funeral expenses for the deceased individual and have documentation (receipts, funeral home contracts, etc.) showing your name as the responsible party. 

We recognize that multiple individuals may have contributed to funeral expenses for one deceased individual. FEMA will work with applicants in these situations and those who submit multiple receipts for funeral expenses when their name does not appear on the receipt.

If more than one individual contributed toward funeral expenses, they must register with FEMA under the same application as the applicant and co-applicant, or the first applicant that submits all required documentation will be awarded COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for the deceased individual. No more than one co-applicant can be included on an application.

If a minor child directly incurred funeral expenses for a COVID-19-related death and the documentation supports that payment, the minor child’s application could be reviewed for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.

Can I apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance even though I’ve already applied for a recent disaster event?

Yes. Applicants who recently applied for FEMA assistance for home and/or personal property damage from a disaster and also had funeral expenses for a death attributed to COVID-19 after January 20, 2020, may apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.  A separate application will be required.

Are pre-planned and pre-paid funerals eligible for reimbursement if the individual died due to COVID-19?

Any source of payment designated specifically to pay for a funeral in anticipation of a future death cannot be reimbursed under this assistance. This includes burial or funeral insurance, a pre-paid funeral contract, a pre-paid trust for funeral expenses, or an irrevocable trust for Medicaid.

What is the deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

At this time, there is no deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. FEMA will communicate a specific deadline once established.

Will the money run out?

Passing of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 now makes it possible for families and individuals who incur funeral expenses due to COVID-19 in 2021 and beyond the ability to apply for Funeral Assistance. Since there is no way to predict how many COVID-related deaths may occur between now and 2025, an exact funding cap has not been established.

Is life insurance considered a duplication of benefit? What if I used life insurance to pay for funeral expenses?

Life insurance proceeds are not considered a duplication of Funeral Assistance benefits. If the funeral bill was paid by burial or funeral insurance, then FEMA cannot duplicate that benefit and FEMA would not be able to reimburse the applicant for the expenses incurred. However, FEMA does not consider life insurance proceeds, death gratuities, or other forms of assistance not specifically intended to defray funeral costs as a duplication of benefit. Therefore, applicants who used life insurance to pay for funeral expenses can be considered for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.

What happens when there is a funeral or burial insurance policy, but the policy covers only part of the funeral expenses and an individual has to pay the rest?

Any source of payment designated specifically to pay for a funeral in anticipation of a future death cannot be reimbursed under this assistance. This includes burial or funeral insurance, a pre-paid funeral contract, a pre-paid trust for funeral expenses, or an irrevocable trust for Medicare. However, when funeral expenses exceed the funds intended to pay these costs, FEMA may evaluate the receipts and other documentation to provide the funeral expenses not covered up to the maximum amount per funeral.

Can I apply for a death that occurred outside of the United States?

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is not available for the funeral expenses of U.S. citizens who died outside the United States. The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories or the District of Columbia.

Do I need to submit a certified copy of a death certificate to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

FEMA does not require an original certified copy of the death certificate; a photocopy or electronic image of the certified death certificate is acceptable. Informational death certificates (which are largely redacted and generally used for genealogical purposes) and working copies of death certificates (which are not certified in accordance with state law) are not acceptable documentation for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. Applicants should follow state law when submitting death certificates, as some states do not allow vital records to be copied, scanned or electronically transmitted. In states where it is allowed, the most efficient way to provide documentation to FEMA is to set up an account on www.DisasterAssistance.gov and upload the documents electronically to FEMA. Applicants can also fax or mail documents to FEMA. If mailed, FEMA will not return the document to the applicant.

How does FEMA define non-citizen national and qualified alien?

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, a type of assistance provided under the Individuals and Households Program (IHP), is available to U.S. citizens, non-citizen nationals, or qualified aliens. FEMA's Individual Assistance Program and Policy Guide provides more detailed definitions for eligible citizenship status:

  • 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 IHP. These include but are not limited to:

  • Temporary tourist visa holders
  • Foreign students
  • Temporary work visa holders and
  • Habitual residents such as citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Many funeral homes have funeral service packages that include reimbursable expenses. Do the services have to be itemized on a funeral bill or can they be listed as a package to receive the reimbursement?

The services can be included and outlined as a package within the documentation provided as long as the costs for each service are listed (i.e. itemized) and the following information is included:

  • The name of the individual responsible for the cost;
  • The deceased individual's name;
  • The total amount of the funeral expenses; and
  • The date the funeral expenses were incurred.

What happens after I apply?

Upon application, a unique application number will immediately be provided. This application number will need to be included with any documentation submitted to FEMA or to inquire about an application with the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline. 

Within 3 to 5 business days of completing the application, FEMA will send a letter with information about COVID-19 Funeral Assistance and the documentation that needs to be submitted, as discussed during the application.

If additional information has not been received from FEMA within 7 to 10 business days of the application, please contact the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 1-844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585) Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.

Does FEMA consider annual household income when determining how much an applicant is awarded for Funeral Assistance?

No. Although an applicant will be asked to provide his or her household annual gross income when they apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, this assistance is not income dependent and income does not affect eligibility. FEMA will ask the applicant income-related questions as part of the application, but this is only for demographic purposes.

If the family did not have a funeral service at the time of death, can they now have a funeral service and receive FEMA funding?

Yes, in order to be eligible for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, the applicant must provide documentation of funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020, for a death attributed to COVID-19. The applicant should apply for COVID-Funeral Assistance after all funeral expenses are incurred as COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is considered a one-time payment as reimbursement for funeral expenses.

I have submitted documents, but I don’t see them in my file. Do I need to resend or upload again?

No. Please do not immediately resend or call to check document status without allowing enough time for FEMA to process the paperwork. Doing so, could delay the process.

If you have sent the required documents by mail, it may take 14 business days before copies appear in your file. If you have faxed or submitted the documents online, it may take up to 10 business days before copies are transferred to your Funeral Assistance account.

Documentation Needed

What information do I need to provide when I register?

The applicant responsible for COVID-19 funeral expenses will need to provide the following information below when they call FEMA to register for assistance. We recommend gathering this information now as we prepare to open the application process.

  • Social Security number for the applicant and the deceased individual
  • Date of birth for the applicant and the deceased individual
  • Current mailing address for the applicant
  • Current telephone number for the applicant
  • Location or address where the deceased individual passed away
  • Information about burial or funeral insurance policies
  • Information about other funeral assistance received, such as donations
  • CARES Act grants and assistance from voluntary organizations
  • Routing and account number of the applicant’s checking or savings account (for direct deposit, if requested)

What documentation do I need?

You must provide a copy of the death certificate, proof of funeral expenses incurred, and proof of assistance received from any other source.

  • The death certificate must indicate the death was caused by, “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 considered sufficient attribution.
  • The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, or the District of Columbia.
  • COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is not available for the funeral expenses of U.S. citizens who died outside the United States.
  • Documentation for expenses (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) must include the applicant’s name as the person responsible for the expense, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and that funeral expenses were incurred after January 20, 2020.
  • The applicant must also provide FEMA with proof of funds received from other sources specifically used for funeral costs. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance or financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government programs or agencies, or other sources. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance will be reduced by the amount of other assistance the applicant received for the same expenses.
  • Life insurance proceeds are not considered a duplication of Funeral Assistance benefits.

The death certificate doesn’t attribute the death to COVID-19. How do I get a death certificate amended?

It is possible to change or amend a death certificate. This process starts with contacting the person who certified the death. This may be a treating doctor, a coroner or a medical examiner, and their name and address is on the death certificate. Applicants may present evidence to them to support the claim the death was attributable to COVID-19.

How do I prove my loved one who died did not have life insurance?

Applicants will not be asked to provide proof of life insurance. Life insurance proceeds are not considered a duplication of Funeral Assistance benefits. However, expenses paid for with burial/funeral insurance, or a pre-paid funeral, are considered a duplication of benefits and therefore, are not eligible for reimbursement under this program.

After Receiving a Decision

How will I receive COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

If you are approved for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, you will receive a check by mail or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option you chose when applying for assistance.

I received a decision letter and was not approved. How do I appeal FEMA’s decision?

You have 60 days from the date of the decision letter to upload, fax or mail a signed letter appealing FEMA's decision.

The appeal should include the following:

  • Why you think the decision is not correct.
    • Supporting documentation (i.e., death certificate, funeral expenses, or other supporting documentation).
    • The application number must be included on each page of the appeal submitted.
    • Appeal documents may be submitted by:
      • Fax to 855-261-3452.
      • Mail  to P.O. BOX 10001, Hyattsville, MD 20782

Please refer to the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance letter received for more information.

Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families. 

Beware of Scams

Will FEMA contact me to ask for personal information to register?

FEMA’s Funeral Assistance Program has controls in place to mitigate fraudulent activity. FEMA will not contact anyone until they have called FEMA or have applied for assistance. Do not disclose information such as the name, birth date or social security number of any deceased family member to any unsolicited telephone calls or e-mails from anyone claiming to be a federal employee or from FEMA.

alert - warning

If you doubt a FEMA representative is legitimate, hang up and report it to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721. Complaints also may be made by contacting local law enforcement agencies.

Last updated May 12, 2021