FEMA Reimbursement for COVID Burial Expenses – February 2022 Update

On February 7, 2022, FEMA issued a press release detailing the number of applications for funeral expense reimbursement by state.  According to the report, in Massachusetts, there were 7,103 applications of which 4,870 of those were approved for reimbursement.  FEMA reimbursed individuals a total of $33,687,637.  Read the FEMA press release at: https://www.fema.gov/press-release/20220207/fema-covid-19-funeral-assistance-state-state-breakdown.

However, according to the Massachusetts government website, there have been 22,122 Covid related deaths thus far in Massachusetts.  These numbers suggest that the current program reimbursement benefits are not reaching a significant portion of eligible recipients.  Using these numbers, the total applications represents less than one-third of potentially eligible recipients.  See Massachusetts Covid-19 numbers at: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-response-reporting.

What Do I Need to Do to Get FEMA Funeral Assistance Program Benefits?

As set forth on the FEMA website, “FEMA is offering help through the establishment of the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program. This new program allows eligible funeral expenses to be reimbursed directly to the loved ones who incurred those expenses. Individuals who apply may receive up to $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 for multiple funerals that occurred within the same state or territory.”

Understanding the FEMA program’s eligibility and documentation requirements is the first step toward reimbursement

What are the Conditions for Getting FEMA Funeral Assistance Benefits?

To be eligible for FEMA Funeral Assistance Benefits, FEMA provides that you must meet the following conditions:

  • The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
  • The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
  • The person applying on behalf of the deceased individual must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.

What Documentation is Needed for FEMA Funeral Benefits?

FEMA suggest you have the following documentation ready when you start your application:

  • An official death certificate that attributes 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 (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that includes the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses happened.
  • Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. FEMA will not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.

How Long Does It Take to Get FEMA Funeral Assistance Benefits?

According to FEMA, it can take several weeks from the time all the necessary documentation has been collected for FEMA Funeral Benefit funds to be disbursed. The best way to reduce the wait and speed up the process is to be prepared with all of the required paperwork when you start the process.

After you apply, FEMA may communicate with you regarding follow-up questions needed to continue processing the application.

How to Apply for FEMA Funeral Assistance Benefits

If you may think you may be eligible for reimbursement, please consider contacting FEMA at the number above.

Gemma Law Office, PC, is located in Braintree, Massachusetts.  Among our services, we help families in Massachusetts with the probate of estates, representing clients in Norfolk, Suffolk, Plymouth, Barnstable, and Middlesex Probate Courts.