COVID-19 Funeral Reimbursement Program

Melissa Cantu Trevino
Alice Echo News Journal

COVID-19 didn't just make us sick. The pandemic caused people pain and heartache as over 500,000 United States citizens passed away from the deadly disease.

As part of the death process, family members needed to have a funeral and the expenses associated with the cost of burying their loved ones which is costly event.

As of Thursday, April 1, FEMA began providing financial assistance for funeral expenses associated with deaths related to the pandemic for anyone who passes after Jan. 20, 2020.

You may be eligible for a reimbursement on your funeral expenses from FEMA. Go to https://www.funeralbasics.org/applying-fema-covid-19-funeral-reimbursement/ to learn more about how it works and how to apply.

“We are here at Holmgreen Mortuary are available to help. Our staff members can meet with you to assist you in gathering all the information needed to apply,” said John Rudel, owner of Holmgreen Mortuary in Alice. "Call us at 361-664-6571 anytime if you have any questions about this program. The application: requires an official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19, funeral expense documents and proof of funds received from other sources."

FEMA's assistance goal is to help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic. FEMA is now moving rapidly to implement this funeral assistance program nationwide.

"At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters," said Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate."

To be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance, the policy states:

  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020 for a death attributed to COVID-19.
  • 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.

In the coming weeks, a dedicated 800 number will be established to help individuals who apply. In the meantime, potential applicants are encouraged 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 (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.

For more information about this assistance, visit COVID-19 Funeral Assistance | FEMA.gov.