Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania Acting Insurance Commissioner Michael Humphreys and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield today encouraged Pennsylvanians who incurred funeral expenses for a COVID-19-related death to apply for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) COVID-19 funeral assistance program to help ease the financial burden brought on by the pandemic.
"The federal government made this assistance available through FEMA to help families overcome the financial impact of paying for a funeral after experiencing a devasting personal loss," Acting Commissioner Humphreys said. "We encourage any Pennsylvanian who lost a loved one to COVID-19 to explore whether they may be eligible for financial assistance. The program may help reimburse Pennsylvanians' use of life insurance proceeds to cover funeral costs, though it will not provide reimbursement where funds specifically designated to pay for a funeral were used, according to FEMA material."
FEMA's funeral assistance program will provide financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020, for deaths related to COVID-19. To be eligible, the COVID-19 related death must have occurred in the United States and the death certificate must attribute the death to COVID-19. In addition, the applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien. There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien. Assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application.
FEMA has provided $2 billion to assist with COVID-19-related funeral costs for the more than 445,000 applications the program has received. In Pennsylvania, more than 16,000 applications have been submitted as of January 2022, and FEMA has provided nearly $73 million in assistance.
"The mental, emotional and financial losses due to COVID-19 were devastating for many families," said PEMA Director Padfield. "While no amount of financial assistance can ease the pain of a loved one's loss, it can help ease the burden for those left behind."
The funeral assistance program will provide reimbursement for expenses incurred for funeral services, including but not limited to transportation to identify the deceased individual, the transfer of remains, a burial plot or cremation niche, a marker or headstone, clergy or officiant services, the use of funeral home equipment or staff, and cremation or interment costs.
Eligible applicants can apply for the funeral assistance program by calling FEMA's COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 1-844-684-6333 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday – Friday to begin the application process.
Prior to applying, potential applicants are encouraged to gather documentation, including the official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19, funeral expense documents (receipts or a funeral home contract that include the applicant's name, the deceased individual's name, the amount of funeral expenses and dates the funeral expenses were incurred), and 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.
"FEMA is committed to supporting those who suffered losses as a result of COVID-19," said FEMA Region 3 Regional Administrator MaryAnn Tierney. "FEMA and our partners are working together to make sure everyone who is eligible for funeral assistance can access and receive it."
For more information on how to apply and FAQs, visit COVID-19 Funeral Assistance at FEMA.gov.