For the nearly 50,000 Texas families who lost a loved one to COVID-19, there’s the shock, the grief, but also the added burden of arranging cremation or burial services during a pandemic. But now the federal government is offering a way to ease that financial burden for loved ones.
Texans dealing with a COVID-19 death in the family can now apply for help with burial or cremation costs. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) spokesperson Earl Armstrong says the Biden administration has directed the disaster relief agency to help.
“Well, with any deaths in the family,” Armstrong said, “the family is hit hard emotionally and financially. And this program is designed to help with the financial aspects of that.”
Under the program, FEMA will reimburse up to $9,000 of funeral-related costs for each COVID-19 death, with a maximum reimbursement of $35,000 for families who have lost multiple family members.
Applicants must have receipts for their expenses. And FEMA will not reimburse expenses covered through insurance.
Applicants must also offer proof that the family member died of COVID-19 in the United States. The person who died does not have to have been a legal resident or American citizen. But those applying to receive the aid must be either a U.S. citizen or have legal resident status
“The individual applying for assistance or the applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien responsible for funeral expenses for an individual who died of COVID-19,” Armstrong said.
FEMA has set up an application hotline for those in need of financial assistance for burial or cremation costs: 1-844-684-6333.
As of now, there is no deadline to apply.
Armstrong also warns that scammers have already tried posing as FEMA representatives asking for financial information. He says no one receives unsolicited calls from FEMA.
“The government won’t reach out to you, out of the blue, to ask you to pay anything, to get this financial help,” he said. “We won’t contact you, call, text, email, or contact you on social media and ask you for your Social Security, bank account or credit card number. If somebody does that, that’s a scam.”