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Funeral Assistance FAQ

Apply for Assistance

Documentation Needed

Receiving an Eligibility Decision

Mental Health

Beware of Scams

Funeral Directors and Other Deathcare Providers

Interim Policy Change

Find Funeral Assistance information in your language:
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At this time, there is no deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.

Apply for Assistance

Who can apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

You may qualify if:

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

Who cannot apply ?

  • States, tribes, territories, businesses, organizations, and other entities.
  • A minor child applying on behalf of an adult who is not a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
    • However, a minor child who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien, can apply if they directly incurred funeral expenses for a COVID-19-related death and the documentation supports that assertion.
  • There are several categories of aliens who are not eligible for FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program, including COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. These individuals 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

Can I apply online ?

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No online applications will be accepted.

When you call, it will take about 20 minutes to apply, and you can ask questions and receive the help you need with the application process.

Once you have applied for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance and received your FEMA application number, you may submit required documentation to FEMA in several ways:

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

Will the money run out ?

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The President approved funding for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred on or after January 20, 2020, under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. A funding gap has not been identified.

What can I do to avoid delays in processing my COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application?

You are encouraged to provide documentation verifying the death was attributed to COVID-19, along with proof of funeral expenses and proof of other funeral assistance received, as soon as possible. Once FEMA receives all your documentation, we will verify and validate it as part of the application review process.

What funeral expenses are covered ?

Eligible COVID-19 Funeral Assistance expenses typically include, but are not limited to:

  • Funeral services
  • Cremation
  • Interment
  • 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
  • Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates
  • Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances

Can a funeral home apply on my behalf?

Funeral homes are not eligible to apply on your behalf or to be a co-applicant on your COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application. The person applying must be an individual, not a business or other entity, who incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses.

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?

If you incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses for more than one individual, you may receive at a maximum of $9,000 per deceased individual and a maximum of $35,500 per application, per state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia, in cases where the applicant incurred funeral expenses for multiple deceased individuals.

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

All funeral expenses for a deceased individual must be submitted in a single application. You may include one co-applicant on your application. If multiple people contribute toward an individual’s COVID-19-related funeral expenses, one of them should apply for assistance and submit funeral expense documentation from everyone who contributed in that single application.

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

Yes. If you recently applied for FEMA disaster assistance for home and/or personal property damage and also incurred funeral expenses for a death attributed to COVID-‍19 on or after January 20, 2020, you may apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. You will need to call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline to complete an application for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.

Are pre-planned and pre-paid funerals eligible for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance if the individual died from COVID-19?

No.

Any source of payment designated specifically to pay for a funeral prior to death is considered a duplication and is not eligible for reimbursement. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance may not duplicate burial or funeral insurance proceeds, pre-planned or pre-paid funeral contracts, pre-paid trust for funeral expenses, irrevocable trust for Medicaid, financial assistance from voluntary organizations, government programs or agencies, or any other sources specifically designated for funeral expenses. Any eligible COVID-19 Funeral Assistance will be reduced by the amount of other assistance you received for the same expenses.

To be eligible for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, you must provide documentation showing you incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses on or after January 20, 2020. FEMA cannot provide financial assistance that duplicates any source of funding designated specifically to pay for a funeral prior to the death or for a death not attributed to COVID-19.

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

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 may be considered for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.

What happens if I have a funeral or burial insurance policy, but the policy covers only part of the funeral expenses, and I have to pay the rest?

Any funding designated specifically for funeral costs is considered a duplication and is not eligible for reimbursement. This includes burial or funeral insurance, a pre-planned or pre-paid funeral contract, a pre-paid trust for funeral expenses, or an irrevocable trust for Medicaid.

However, if COVID-19-related funeral expenses were incurred on or after January 20, 2020, and exceeded the funding intended to pay these costs, FEMA may evaluate your receipts and other documentation for eligible costs not covered by those funds to ensure there is no duplication of benefits. For example, if you incur expenses for a $10,000 funeral, where the funeral or burial insurance covered only $8,000, you may be eligible for $2,000 in COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.

Can I apply for assistance with funeral expenses for a death that occurred outside the United States?

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No. 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?

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.

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

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

Many funeral homes offer funeral service packages. Do the services have to be itemized on a funeral bill, or can they be listed as a package to receive COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

Each cost in a funeral service package must be listed separately (i.e., itemized). Documentation must also include:

  • 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?

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.

Does FEMA consider annual household income when determining how much COVID-19 Funeral Assistance I can receive?

No. Your income does not affect your eligibility, although you will be asked to provide your annual gross household income when you apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. FEMA collects this information for demographic purposes only.

If I did not arrange a funeral service at the time of the individual’s death, can I incur costs for a funeral service now and apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is considered a one-time payment for funeral expenses, and you should apply after you have incurred all expenses. If you incur additional funeral expenses after receiving COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, you will need to submit an appeal and additional supporting documentation (e.g., receipts, funeral home contract, etc.). COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is limited to a maximum of $9,000 per deceased individual.

Information and Documentation Needed

What information do I need to provide when I apply?

You will need to provide the following information when you call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline to apply for assistance:

  • 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 individual died
  • 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 funeral 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. If the death certificate was issued from Jan. 20 to May 16, 2020 and does not list COVID-19 as a cause of death, you may submit the death certificate along with a signed statement from the original certifier of the death, or the local medical examiner or coroner, attributing the death to COVID-19.
  • The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories or the District of Columbia. Funeral expenses incurred for a U.S. citizen who died outside the United States are not eligible.
  • Documentation for funeral expenses (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) must include your name as an individual responsible for the expenses, the deceased individual’s name, itemized funeral expenses, and proof funeral expenses were incurred on or after January 20, 2020.
  • You must also provide FEMA with proof of funds received from other sources specifically designated for funeral costs. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance may not duplicate burial or funeral insurance proceeds, pre-planned or pre-paid funeral contracts, pre-paid trust for funeral expenses, irrevocable trust for Medicaid, financial assistance from voluntary organizations, government programs or agencies, or any other sources specifically designated for funeral expenses. Any eligible COVID-19 Funeral Assistance will be reduced by the amount of other assistance you received for the same expenses.
  • Life insurance proceeds are not considered a duplication of COVID-19 Funeral Assistance benefits.

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

The death certificate amendment process starts by contacting the individual who certified the death. This may be a physician, local coroner, or local medical examiner. You may provide them with evidence supporting your claim the death was attributable to COVID-19.

In the early days of the pandemic, COVID-19 was rarely if ever noted as a cause of death on a death certificate. What do I do?

FEMA expanded its COVID-19 Funeral Assistance documentation requirements to allow applicants to submit a signed statement from the certifying official listed on the death certificate, local medical examiner, or local coroner attributing the death to COVID-19 for deaths that occurred between January 20 and May 16, 2020.

The signed statement must accompany the death certificate and include a causal pathway, or explanation, linking the cause of death on the death certificate to COVID-‍19.

Will FEMA accept a signed statement for COVID-19 deaths that occurred after May 16, 2020?

No. For deaths occurring after May 16, 2020, COVID-19 Funeral Assistance documentation must include a death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories or the District of Columbia.

Why won’t FEMA accept a written statement for all COVID-19 Funeral Assistance applications?

Following consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FEMA believes the largest number of undiagnosed COVID-19 cases most likely occurred early in the pandemic and prior to the CDC’s guidance on death certification.

Can the signed statement be from any certifying official, medical examiner, or coroner?

No. The signed statement must be signed by the certifying official listed on the death certificate, or the local medical examiner or local coroner in the jurisdiction where the individual died.

How do I prove the individual who died did not have life insurance?

You will not be asked to provide proof of life insurance. Life insurance proceeds are not considered a duplication of COVID-19 Funeral Assistance.

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

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It may take up to 14 business days for documents to appear in your case file. Please do not resend documents or call to check on the status without allowing enough time for FEMA to upload and process your paperwork.

Receiving an Eligibility Decision

How will I receive COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

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

I received a decision letter and was not approved for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. How do I appeal FEMA’s decision?

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

The appeal letter should include the following:

  • Your full name; FEMA application number; FEMA disaster number; and current phone number and address. You must include your application number on each page of your appeal documentation.
  • Explanation of why you think FEMA’s decision is not correct.
  • Supporting documentation, such as a death certificate, funeral home contract, invoice, signed statement, etc.
  • Your signature

Submit your appeal documents by:

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

Your COVID-19 Funeral Assistance decision letter lists the specific documentation you must provide to FEMA if you decided to appeal. A FEMA representative may call you to provide further details, or you may contact the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline for more information on the documentation needed.

Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many. If you need help or support, please:

Beware of Scams

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

FEMA will not contact you unless you have already called FEMA and applied for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. Do not disclose information such as the name, birth date, or Social Security Number of any deceased individual during an unsolicited telephone call or e-mail from anyone.

Phone calls from FEMA may come from an unidentified number. If you doubt a caller is legitimate, hang up and report it to the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 844-684-6333 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

Funeral Directors and Other Deathcare Providers

Can FEMA give us a copy of the application so we can let our customers know what questions to expect?

The COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application is completed by a FEMA agent over the phone to ensure accuracy, and applicants will need to provide the following information when they call to apply:

  • 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 individual died
  • 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)

Can a funeral home employee assist individuals with the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application process?

While a funeral home employee may help an individual gather required documentation, they cannot speak on behalf of the applicant unless the applicant designates them to act on their behalf through a power of attorney.

Will FEMA approve funding for fees associated with the application process?

FEMA will not approve financial assistance for third-party fees charged to assist individuals with the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application process.

If the applicant does not have internet connectivity, can the funeral home submit documents to a FEMA Disaster Assistance account created by the applicant? Can the funeral home e-mail be used for multiple Disaster Assistance accounts?

The Privacy Act limits access to disasterassistance.gov accounts to the applicant and/or co-applicant.

While a funeral home may provide internet access to the applicant, they cannot submit the documents or receive correspondence on the applicant’s behalf. Learn more about who can help with the application process.

Is there a time period after which the $35,500 per household limit resets?

No. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan of 2021 directed FEMA to provide COVID-19 Funeral Assistance under the Other Needs Assistance provision of the Individuals and Households Program. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is limited to a maximum of $9,000 per deceased individual and $35,500 per application, per state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia, in cases where the applicant incurred funeral expenses for multiple deceased individuals.

An individual gave a previously purchased burial plot to someone who died of COVID-19. Can they receive COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for the plot they gave away?

No. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is only available to individuals who incurred funeral expenses for a death attributed to COVID-19 on or after January 20, 2020.

How will FEMA verify that funeral home contracts are legitimate? Will FEMA request verification from the funeral home before approval?

As part of the application review process, FEMA validates documentation, and may call the funeral home to verify receipts or expenses.

What if an individual cannot pay for funeral expenses before applying for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

If the applicant has not paid the funeral expenses in full, but incurred the expenses after January 20, 2020, they must provide proof of funeral expenses (e.g., receipts, funeral home contract, etc.). Review a list of required documentation here.

Is there a guarantee the funeral home will be paid once the applicant receives COVID-19 Funeral Assistance? What will happen if the funeral bill has not been paid?

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FEMA is authorized to provide COVID-19 Funeral Assistance directly to an eligible applicant. It is the applicant’s responsibility to settle outstanding debts with the funeral home.

What is the legal responsibility of funeral directors for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

Funeral directors do not have a legal responsibility to assist with COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. FEMA may call the funeral home to verify receipts or expenses submitted by an applicant.

What if someone incurs funeral expenses after applying for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance? Will these additional services be covered?

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is considered a one-time payment for funeral expenses, and individuals should apply after incurring all applicable costs. If an individual incurs additional funeral expenses after receiving COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, they will need to file an appeal and submit additional documentation (e.g., receipts, funeral home contract, etc.). COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is limited to a maximum of $9,000 per deceased individual and $35,500 per application, per state, U.S. territory, or the District of Columbia, in cases where the applicant incurred funeral expenses for multiple deceased individuals.

What is the turnaround time for an applicant to receive COVID-19 Funeral Assistance once all documents are submitted?

FEMA eligibility determinations are generally made in fewer than 30 days from the time all required documentation is received and verified. Once an eligibility determination is made, applicants who request direct deposit may receive the funds in a matter of days. It may take longer if the applicant has chosen to receive COVID-19 Funeral Assistance by check, which is sent by mail.

What if an individual schedules services with the funeral home for a future date, gets COVID-19 Funeral Assistance from FEMA, and then cancels those services and requests a refund?

FEMA regulations require the applicant to use COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for its intended purpose.

Can COVID-19 Funeral Assistance funding be assigned to the funeral home?

No. COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is provided to the individual who incurred the expenses. It is the applicant’s responsibility to pay the funeral home the amount due.

Can the funeral home apply for assistance if they have been appointed by the court as the preferred creditor?

No. Section 408(e)(1) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act) does not recognize funeral homes or other businesses as eligible recipients of federal funds under the Individuals and Households Program. FEMA will not provide COVID-19 Funeral Assistance funds to states, tribes, territories, businesses, organizations, and other entities.

Can a religious order that paid for multiple COVID-19-related deaths on behalf of their members apply for assistance all together, or do they need to apply for assistance for each individually?

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.

How would it work if a burial society handles arrangements for its members?

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.

Interim Policy Change

What was the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance policy change?

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.

Why didn’t FEMA amend the policy to accept a signed statement for all COVID-19 Funeral Assistance applications?

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.

Can the signed statement be from any certifying official, medical examiner, or coroner?

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The statement must be signed by the certifying official listed on the death certificate, local medical examiner, or local coroner from the city/county/parish where the individual died.

Can an signed statement be submitted in place of a death certificate?

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.