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FEMA Assistance Includes Funeral Expenses

Release Date:
May 17, 2023

Losing a loved one is an unimaginable tragedy. If you had funeral or reburial expenses as a result of the March 31 to April 1, 2023, storms and tornadoes in Tennessee, funeral assistance may be available from FEMA.

It can help with the cost of unexpected and uninsured expenses associated with the death of an immediate family member during a declared major federal disaster or emergency.

The 10 counties designated for FEMA assistance are Cannon, Hardeman, Hardin, Haywood, Lewis, Macon, McNairy, Rutherford, Tipton and Wayne. Even if you live outside those counties, you may still qualify for funeral assistance if the death occurred within the disaster area.

To request funeral assistance, you must first apply to FEMA. To apply, visit DisasterAssistance.gov; use the FEMA mobile app or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. If you use a relay service such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA your number for that service when you apply. Helpline operators speak many languages and lines are open from 6 a.m. to midnight Central Daylight Time daily. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, June 6.

FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance program provides assistance for certain eligible funeral expenses.

Eligible Funeral Expenses may include:

  • Cost of casket or urn
  • Funeral services
  • Transportation of the deceased and/or up to two family members into the area to identify the decedent (if required by state/local authorities)
  • Costs associated with producing and certifying up to five death certificates
  • Burial plot or cremation niche
  • Interment
  • Cost of reinterment if disinterment is caused by the declared disaster, and/or occurs in a family cemetery on private property

Eligibility Criteria

  • FEMA must obtain and verify:
    • An official state-issued death certificate or a signed statement from a medical examiner, coroner or other certifier stating that the death was directly or indirectly related to the disaster.
    • Evidence of an unmet funeral expense – a receipt or verifiable estimates for funeral expenses that indicate the applicant incurred, or will incur, the funeral expenses.
    • Confirmation that funeral expenses have not been paid for by other resources. By law, FEMA cannot provide you a grant when any other source – Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits – has covered expenses for the same disaster-related need. If you have already received those benefits for funeral expenses, the amount you received would be subtracted from your FEMA award.

Ineligible Costs

  • Not all applicants reporting funeral expenses will be eligible for Funeral Assistance. Some common reasons for ineligibility include:
    • The death was not attributed to the declared incident.
    • Funeral expenses are fully covered by other sources of assistance.
    • Insufficient and/or incomplete documentation.
  • If disinterment was the result of the disaster, FEMA will provide Funeral Assistance for a disinterred coffin under the following conditions:
    • The unearthed coffin was located in a family cemetery on your private property.
    • The coffin or coffins were removed from the ground during the declared disaster.

For the latest information on Tennessee’s recovery from the severe storms, straight-line winds and tornadoes, visit FEMA.gov/Disaster/4701. You may also follow TN.gov/TEMA; Twitter.com/TEMA, Facebook.com/TNDisasterInfo, @FEMARegion4/Twitter and Facebook.com/FEMA.

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