Nothing about coping with the loss of someone you love is easy. And losing someone due to complications from COVID-19 can make grieving more complex.
Reminders of the virus are everywhere. Information abounds on billboards and store doors. Social media is full of reminders that may cause rage, anger and other feelings of grief. And no matter who you ask, everyone has an opinion about it. You can’t escape the daily reminders of the disease that took your loved one and it makes coping with grief even more complex.
You may feel anger, a deep sense of hurt or even numbness among other emotions. These feelings are very powerful and real. In fact, they may even become toxic over time if you don’t address them. But, while everyone talks about the physical loss of the person you love, people rarely ever discuss the financial loss.
Like any death, losing someone you love will likely impact you financially. And often the financial impact can amplify feelings of loss and grief. That is exactly why I think this post is important.
Struggling With Financial Loss
Losing a major household contributor is devastating. In fact, even with estate planning in place, it may spark emotions of despair and hopelessness for the remaining family members.
And while I always recommend visiting with a trusted professional about these emotions and your finances, you also need to know that financial help is out there.
In this post I specifically address the largest resource available (to my knowledge) for loss to COVID-19. If your loved one did not have COVID-19 at the time they passed, this post will not be helpful to you.
FEMA Funeral Assistance for COVID-19
Everyone is issued a certified death certificate when they pass away. It lists the official cause of death as well as any contributing factors.
If COVID-19 is anywhere on the death certificate, you need to know about the FEMA Funeral Assistance program. This program is designed to help you recover expenses you have already paid out.
Since the program began in April 2021, I have helped dozens of families apply for funds through FEMA. You may click here to read my original post about the program.
At this time funds are still available through this program. However, there are several important things to keep in mind if you would like to apply.
- Most of the individuals and families I have spoken with throughout the application process report you need to be patient. The best I can tell, the process takes an average of 3 months to complete.
The Application Process Is By Phone
- The application process must begin by phone. No online or by mail application exists.
- Several languages are available. Use the language you feel most comfortable speaking.
Have the Required Paperwork & Receipts Ready
If you checkout this link, you will see the number of applications submitted in your state. You will also see the corresponding number of successful claims. The number one reason claims are not successful is due to a lack of documentation. Don’t find yourself amongst those statistics! Have all of your paperwork ready!
- You will need a certified copy of the death certificate. You may request this from your funeral home if you do not already have one.
- Receipts showing payment in full for everything regarding the cremation or burial are required. This includes the headstone! These receipts need to reflect all products and services for which you have paid. A list is here.
- Be certain to request copies of any receipts you may be missing.
- If your loved one does not have COVID-19 on their death certificate, you may petition to have it added. Read the FAQ’s here to learn how to do that.
What Expenses are Covered
- The covered expenses may be found here.
- This program DOES cover the cost of a headstone. Honoring your loved one with a memorial is important to their legacy and to your healing. Checkout my website to begin ordering one.
For additional information and to read through the FEMA Funeral Assistance FAQ’s click here.
To learn how to apply for FEMA Funeral Assistance click here.
Do Not Wait to Apply for COVID-19 Assistance
It is important to apply as soon as you have your documentation gathered. At its inception, FEMA was allotted $2 billion in Funeral Assistance program funds. Most recently it has been reported that $968 million has been dispersed.
While roughly half of the funds remain, it is important to keep the following in mind.
- To date COVID-19 has created unexpected funeral-related expenses for survivors of approximately 619,723 people in the US.
- According to data released by the National Funeral Director’s Association, in 2019 the median cost of a funeral was between $7,640 and $9,135.
- FEMA has committed to reimbursing up to $9,000 in funeral-related expenses per person who deceased due to COVID-19 until funds run out.
- If each family were to apply for the maximum benefit, FEMA would now need over $5 billion to disperse. Unfortunately, roughly $2,000,000,000 in reimbursement funds are available through FEMA right now.
Share Your Experience
Have you been successful in completing the FEMA Funeral Assistance application process? Drop me a line and tell me about your experience.