March 31st, 2021

FEMA Will Reimburse Funeral Expenses Related to COVID-19

In accordance with the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) recently announced that it is developing guidelines for people to apply for reimbursement of funeral expenses for people who died from COVID. FEMA expects that applications will be available in early April.

How much will FEMA pay?

Reimbursement is limited to a maximum of $9,000 per funeral, and a maximum of $35,500 per application (for applicants who paid for more than one funeral due to COVID-19).

What expenses will be reimbursed?

The types of reimbursable funeral expenses include the following:

  • Transportation for up to two (2) individuals to identify the decedent;
  • Transfer of bodily remains;
  • Casket or urn;
  • Burial plot or cremation niche;
  • Marker or headstone;
  • Clergy or officiant services;
  • Arrangement of the funeral ceremony;
  • Use of funeral home equipment or staff;
  • Cremation or interment costs;
  • Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates; and
  • Additional expenses mandated by any local or state government laws or ordinances.

Who is eligible for reimbursement?

To be eligible for reimbursement, you must meet these conditions:

  • The death must have occurred in the United States (including U.S. territories);
  • The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19;
  • The applicant must be a United States citizen, or a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.

How to apply?

FEMA will begin accepting applications in April. The initial application will take place by a call to a dedicated toll-free number. FEMA representatives will answer the call and complete the application for you. After an applicant has applied for reimbursement and has been provided an application number, the applicant will be able to submit supporting documentation by mail, fax, or online.

In the meantime, applicants should gather an original death certificate, documentation of funeral expenses (receipts, contracts, etc.), and information about any funeral assistance received (funeral insurance policies, donations, CARES Act grants).

Attorney R. Nicholas Nanovic is an Accredited Estate Planner®, serving as chair of Gross McGinley’s Estates and Tax Law teams.