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Congresswoman Barbara Lee Announces FEMA Funeral Assistance Funding

Starting, Monday, April 12, those who lost loved ones to COVID-19 will be able to apply for retroactive reimbursements for burial costs of up to $9,000 per burial.

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Barbara Lee

Congresswoman Barbara Lee announced on Wednesday a new development for families seeking assistance with funeral costs for loved ones that have passed away as a result of COVID-19. 

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will begin providing financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020.

Starting, Monday, April 12, those who lost loved ones to COVID-19 will be able to apply for retroactive reimbursements for burial costs of up to $9,000 per burial.  There is no citizenship requirement for eligibility for this relief. If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant.

“Families across this country are living on the edge because of this public health and economic crisis,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “On top of facing unimaginable hardship and loss, the last thing they should have to worry about is how to pay for funeral expenses. That’s why Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez and I introduced the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Act (during the) last Congress to help ease the burden caused by the virus. I applaud the leadership of Majority Leader Schumer for making this a priority, and I’m pleased to see the Biden Administration is taking action to deliver this critical relief to families.”

“I am very pleased they are doing such a thing,” said Phyllis Scott, pastor of Tree of Life Ministries and president of Pastors of Oakland. After reading that approximately 400,000 children lost a parent to COVID-19 and the Black and Brown children experienced disproportionate loss.

“This tragedy has been on my heart,” she said. 

“Along with the poverty thar was already here, all who didn’t have health insurance because they couldn’t afford it,” suffered the most, she said. The support for funeral expenses will “give those families one less thing to struggle for. (The assistance) allows them to begin to address their healing and begin to recover.”

Applicants must provide the following documents:

  • Official death certificate attributing the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
  • Funeral expenses documents, such as receipts or a funeral home contract, that includes the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses were incurred.
  • Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. We are not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Hot Line: 844-684-6333 or TTY800-462-7585

In May 2020, Representatives Barbara Lee and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduced the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Act, which would instruct FEMA to disperse $10,000 to cover the funeral expenses of those lost to the pandemic.

 Additional information on the program can be found here: COVID-19 Funeral Assistance | FEMA.gov.

Post staff contributed to this report.

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