Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Monday that families of coronavirus victims can soon apply to have funeral expenses paid for through a fund through FEMA.
In the last stimulus bill signed into law in December, $2 billion were earmarked to pay for funeral expenses. The money was placed in the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.
“I am happy to say, to help people who are victims of COVID and don't have the dollars on their own to pay for the funeral and burial of loved ones,” Schumer said.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, said that up to $7,000 in funeral expenditures will be covered. The funding is retroactive to March 2020, she said.
FEMA released a statement on how families can apply for funds.
The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 appropriates $2 billion to FEMA to provide financial assistance to individuals and households for COVID-19-related funeral expenses at a 100% federal cost. This includes eligible funeral expenses that were incurred between Jan.20, 2020 and December 31, 2020, but does not include funeral expenses incurred in 2021. FEMA is working quickly to finalize an implementation plan and interim policy to support the delivery of funeral assistance to eligible citizens. To help administer the program, FEMA is hiring contract support through the federal acquisitions process to help administer the program. The contract is open for proposals until Feb. 8. After a contract is awarded, FEMA will make an announcement later this year when applications are being accepted.
We understand the financial and emotional turmoil COVID-19 has brought to our nation, and we are committed to bringing funeral assistance to the American people as quickly as possible. We are working to streamline the delivery of this program to make it easier for people who lost loved ones to apply for and receive assistance. It’s taking some time to develop the right process and tools to make this program easy, efficient and effective for everyone. The loss of loved ones to this pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to so many American families. At FEMA, our mission is to help Americans before, during and after disasters…and while we can’t change the outcome of what has happened, we are honored and dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden that this terrible virus has created.