TEMA encourages citizens to apply for COVID funeral assistance

STATE NEWS — In April, FEMA announced a new program to help families who’ve lost loved ones to COVID with funeral expenses. This week, Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) officials stated that only around 34 percent of eligible households have applied.

In early April, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began providing financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020, for deaths related to COVID-19 to ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic.

There are certain restrictions. The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified noncitizen. If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. FEMA will also consider documentation from other individuals not listed as the applicant and co-applicant who may have incurred funeral expenses as part of the registration for the deceased individual. An applicant may apply for multiple deceased individuals.

The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. This assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application. Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation.

Those wishing to file a claim should gather the following:

An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the U. S. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19 like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are considered sufficient attribution.

Funeral expense documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’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. Funeral assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, federal/state/local/tribal/territorial government programs or agencies, or other sources.

Applying for our Funeral Assistance program? You can apply 9 A.M. – 9 P.M. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, by calling 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585). Multilingual services will be available. Keep in mind there is no deadline to apply. •

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