FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program Surpasses $2.5 Billion

In Indiana, 10,558 families have applied for funeral assistance. Just over 8,000 of those families have been awarded.

INDIANAPOLIS — Funeral assistance for Hoosier families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19 is still available.

FEMA launched her COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program in April 2021.

Since then, data shows that FEMA has awarded more than $2.5 billion to nearly 400,000 American individuals and families across the country.

Dan Shulman is a FEMA representative for Region 5, overseeing Indiana.

Unfortunately, we have distributed a lot of money to many people across the country,” said Shulman.

Here in Indiana, 10,558 Hoosiers have applied for funeral services. Just over 8,000 of those families have been awarded.

“We’ve actually just started this process,” Shulman says. “We estimate that we really… only help provided to probably less than half of the eligible population.”

RELATED: Federal funeral assistance for Americans who have died from COVID-19 exceeds $2 billion, more are eligible

Shulman said the funeral assistance application process begins by telephone with an FEMA representative by calling 844-684-6333.

This is a toll-free number that is available in multiple languages. The FEMA phone lines are available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

“This is a simple process,” Shulman said. “It will take time. While we can’t bring back their loved ones, or their friends or family, we can lighten the burden of the deaths of those who have lost them.”

Shulman said the application process consists of three main aspects:

  • The suitability of the person or persons who paid for the funeral.
  • The fitness of the person who has died.
  • The documentation of funeral expenses.

Shulman said FEMA can reimburse multiple people for a funeral through a single application. Essentially, one person can apply, but the money is allowed to go to a group of people. That applicant must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.

Shulman also said the person applying must be able to prove that COVID-19 was a cause of death or related to the cause of death. The person who has died does not have to be a US citizen.

RELATED: Families can get up to $9,000 to cover COVID funeral costs, but many haven’t applied

Once the initial interview is conducted, Shulman said the applicants will create an online profile to upload the required documents. Those papers can also be submitted by post.

“There’s no barrier to asking for help here,” Shulman said.

Officials are encouraging all families who have lost a loved one to the coronavirus to go ahead and apply for the financial aid.

“The help is there. We tell people that you don’t take money from someone else by calling and asking for help. The funds are there to help people with these costs,” Shulman said.

If you’ve applied but haven’t been helped yet, Shulman said to call and ask what’s holding up your application. He said it might be something as simple as a missed call.

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