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FEMA Amends COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Policy
Release Date: June 29, 2021
WASHINGTON -- FEMA is amending the agency’s COVID-19 funeral assistance policy to assist with COVID-19 related fatalities that occurred in the early months of the pandemic.
This policy change will allow applicants to submit a statement or letter from the death certificate’s certifying official, medical examiner, or coroner that attributes the death to COVID-19 fatalities that occurred between Jan. 20 and May 16, 2020.
This policy change was made after consulting with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention officials and other health experts. The new policy provides applicants, as well as medical authorities, coroners and jurisdictions, flexibility to attribute a death to COVID-19 without amending the death certificate. The change also provides flexibility with documentation for the period before the CDC-published and implemented COVID-19 death certificate guidance in the spring of 2020.
Since FEMA began taking COVID-19 funeral assistance applications, the agency has awarded more than $447 million in assistance to over 66,800 applicants.
Applicants who incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses between Jan. 20 and May 16, 2020, will be able to submit a death certificate that does not attribute the death to COVID-19 along with a signed statement from the certifying official listed on the death certificate, coroner, or medical examiner linking the death to COVID-19. The written statement must show causal pathway, or an explanation, linking the cause of death listed on the death certificate to the virus and should be submitted with the death certificate.
Applicants also retain the option of contacting the individual who certified the death to request a death certificate amendment if they can provide justification demonstrating the death should be attributed to COVID-19. The certifying individual’s name and address should be on the death certificate.
For deaths occurring after May 16, 2020, COVID-19 funeral assistance documentation must include a copy of a death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19.
Individuals who would like to apply for assistance should call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline tollfree, at 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday - Friday. Applicants who use a relay service, such as a videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel should provide FEMA with the specific number assigned to them for that service so agency representatives are able to contact them. Phone calls from FEMA may come from an unidentified number.
Additional information about COVID-19 funeral assistance, including frequently asked questions can be found on FEMA.gov. This information is available online in 12 different languages and through FEMA-provided language services.
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FEMA FUNERAL ASSISTANCE
Beginning April 12, 2021 families that experienced the death of a loved one due to COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $9,000 in funeral assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Two pieces of legislation recently passed by Congress – the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – authorized FEMA to provide financial assistance to families that incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral and memorial services, and burial, interment or cremation. In April, a dedicated 800-number will be established to help individuals who apply. FEMA encourages families that may be eligible to start gathering the following documentation: An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States. 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 (e.g., receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and 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. If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant(s). Applicants can also apply for assistance for more than one individual who died.
The FEMA website has complete information about eligibility requirements, documentation applicants will be required to provide, and how to start the application process. Visit https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.
All families (with Covid-19 stated on the death certificate) are eligible unless they had a previously funded Irrevocable Funeral Trust.
We as Hartzler Funeral Services care deeply for our Fulton, Kosciusko, Miami, and Marshall County communities. Please read the following prepared statement.
As an unwavering steward of our community, Hartzler Funeral Home and King Memorial Home are humbled to have the opportunity to care for those who have died while also caring for those who mourn. Our responsibility in providing care at times demands that we make decisions and implement practices, while confusing and potentially difficult, that are made for the greater good of public health and welfare.
In practice as licensed Indiana funeral directors and funeral homes, the protection of public welfare and health, along with prevention in spread of infectious disease is part of our fundamental duty of care and legal responsibility. Indiana Code 25-15-2-17(7)
With this is mind, and the public welfare and reverent care at the heart of our mission, Hartzler Funeral Home and King Memorial Home are committed to strictly following all prevailing federal, state, and local mandates in suppressing the spread of COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus. While restrictive to public gatherings and events, these mandates are for the greater good of our community and nation.
We are living in unprecedented and extraordinary times, filled with anxiety and uncertainty; we are sensitive that experiencing death is never easy, but most especially during times of national emergency when such restrictions may be in place. Amid these uncontrollable circumstances, Hartzler Funeral Home and King Memorial Home remains committed to you and your family while caring for your loved one.
Although service options in the immediate future may be severely limited due to these public health-related mandates, we will diligently work with you to find appropriate options and alternatives for your immediate needs within the current restrictions and assist in planning for future public memorial events when circumstances have improved.
We hold sacred the trust you have placed in us and are truly humbled that you find our family worthy of caring for your family at such an important time.
-Statement prepared for Indiana Funeral Homes by the Indiana Funeral Directors Association