Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced on Monday, Feb. 8th that the Federal Government will reimburse the funeral and burial expenses of COVID-19 victims for low-income families. The announcement follows the passing of the latest stimulus bill in December 2020, which set aside $2 billion in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Relief Fund for this purpose.
FEMA will reimburse eligible recipients for funeral expenses incurred from Jan. 20th, 2020 to Dec. 31st, 2020. The agency is still working to determine eligibility factors and reimbursement amounts. The average funeral can cost families anywhere from $8,000-$10,000; any amount of funds to help cover these expenses will provide much needed economic relief for low-income households amid an already troubling time following a loved one’s death.
While not yet finalized by FEMA, it is likely that families will need to provide proper documentation in order to apply and are encouraged to gather any relevant items in the meantime. This could include a death certificate, proof of relation to the deceased, invoices, receipts and more. In April, FEMA will provide a funeral assistance program to help with the application process. Once the program is in motion, families can check the FEMA website for more information on the process in their state.
Currently, the program does not cover funeral expenses incurred for COVID deaths in 2021. Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez say they are working to extend this program into 2021 and throughout the remainder of the pandemic.