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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

FEMA Is Offering COVID-19 Funeral Assistance: Here's How To Apply

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
William Samuels delivers caskets to the Gerard Neufeld Funeral Home during the coronavirus pandemic in the Queens borough of New York.

FEMA is now accepting applications for help paying for COVID-19 related funeral expenses. The agency is offering up to $9,000 for funeral costs for each person who has died from COVID-19 since Jan. 20, 2020.

It's the largest-ever federal program of its kind, according to the Washington Post.

"It's a first for FEMA, FEMA's never done a program like this before," adds Nick Crossley, Hamilton County Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency director. "While an unfortunate opportunity considering what it's reimbursing, sometimes these expenses for funerals can be pretty high and so I'm sure it can be helpful to families to be able to apply for this."

Qualified expenses include transfer of remains, cremation or interment costs, funeral costs, andother expenses outlined by FEMA.

People may apply by calling 844-684-6333, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

"FEMA's goal, as I understand it," Crossley says, "is to have people be able to talk to people about the program. They understand the trauma that people may have experienced or may still be experiencing and so they want to make sure they can talk to a person about the program and provide the information."

The funds come from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act.

Crossley says COVID must be notated on the death certificate. If it isn't and a family members believes it should be, "they'll need to talk to whomever signed the death certificate and then start working with them and state to update the death certificate if appropriate."

More information may be found on FEMA's website.

FEMA Eligibility Requirements

  • 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 applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
  • There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
  • A minor child cannot apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance on behalf of an adult who is not a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

Necessary Documentation

  • 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. We are not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, or other sources.
Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.