The pandemic has caused immeasurable pain for hundreds of thousands of families.
The grief is compounded by financial hardship at a time when countless jobs have been lost. It’s for that reason that the Biden Administration will debut a program next week offering financial assistance to help offset burial costs for each of the 557,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19.
FEMA has provided reimbursements for funerals for victims of natural disasters like hurricanes, and the Trump Administration included aid up to $7000 in the stimulus bill he signed just before he left office. But this new program will offer up to $9,000 to help with funeral expenses — the most ever offered by the government for this type of assistance.
It’s open to all families regardless of income level. Documentation must be provided and the family may not have already received a similar benefit through another government program.
Because it’s not known how many people will apply for the assistance, the final cost of the program is yet to be determined. But it is likely to wind up in the billions of dollars. It’s almost certainly going to surpass the $2 billion cap that Trump’s stimulus bill put on funeral reimbursement.
Along with the dedicated toll-free hotline — 1-844-684-6333 — FEMA is also putting together a call center to answer questions about the program.
The agency says applicants must be “a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national, or qualified alien” who paid for funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020. In addition, the applicant must show a death certificate that states that the death occurred in the United States and “may have been caused by or was likely the result of COVID-19.”