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Underutilized Federal Program Provides Financial Aid Covering Funeral Costs for COVID-19-Related Deaths

Have you lost a loved one to COVID-19? Has the costly burden of arranging and paying for their funeral fallen on your shoulders? Help may be out there.

One of the seemingly lesser-known benefits of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Action of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the “Acts”) is a program through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) to provide financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses. So how does it work?


There are two categories of eligible deaths as they relate to this program. In both, you must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or a qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses. First, for deaths occurring from January 20, 2020, to May 16, 2020, either (1) the death certificate must indicate the death was attributed COVID-19 or (2) the death certificate must be accompanied by a signed statement provided by the original certifier of the death certificate or the local medical examiner or coroner and must indicate that COVID-19 was a cause or contributing factor in the death. Second, for deaths occurring after May 16, 2020, the death certificate must indicate that the death was attributed to COVID-19.


Under the Acts, an individual is eligible for maximum relief of $9,000.00 per deceased individual and a maximum of $35,500 per application if the applicant incurred funeral expenses for multiple decedents. The following are some, but not all of the expenses covered:

  • Funeral services
  • Cremation
  • Internment
  • Casket or urn
  • Burial plot
  • Marker or headstone
  • Clergy
  • Costs of producing and certifying multiple death certificates

For a complete list, see the related FEMA FAQ’s here: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance/faq#policy-change

How to Apply

The only way to apply for the program is to call FEMA, which indicates it should take only 20 minutes to apply. The COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline can be reached at (844) 684-6333 Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST. When you call, you will be assigned a FEMA application number, and you can then submit your documentation online, by fax, or by mail.

For more information, you can check out the FEMA flyer on the program here: https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fema_funeral-assistance-flier_102021.pdf and you can visit the program website at: https://www.fema.gov/disaster/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance

If you have any questions about this program or need any assistance in administering the estate of a loved one, contact your attorney at Carlile Patchen & Murphy or any member of the Family Wealth and Estate Planning Group.


  1. my mother passed this past friday of covid and i was trying to apply for it but not sure if its even a real thing

    1. Thank you, Brandon, for your comment. I am sorry for your loss. Yes, this is an actual program included in the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Action of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. We were just as surprised as you when we learned about this program. If you have any questions or apprehensions, please see free to give one of our Estate Planning attorneys a call, and we will be able to answer your questions.

  2. If Covid was a contributing factor in someone’s death and they had life insurance can executive of estate still qualify for FEMA funeral assistance?

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