Fact Check

Is FEMA Covering Funeral Expenses for People Who Died From COVID-19?

The emergency management agency reportedly might cover up to $7,000 per family.

Published Mar 23, 2021

EL CAJON, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Embalmer and funeral director Kristy Oliver (L) and funeral attendant Sam Deras prepare to load the casket of a person who died after contracting COVID-19 into a hearse at East County Mortuary on January 15, 2021 in El Cajon, California. The mortuary on average was handling about 50 decedents per month but owner Robert Zakar believes they may process closer to 100 in January as California continues to see a spike in coronavirus deaths. The mortuary holds the bodies of those who pass away due to COVID-19 for a minimum of three days before they are processed along with various other COVID-related safety measures.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Image Via Mario Tama/Getty Images
Starting April 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will reimburse families up to $7,000 for funeral costs for people who died due to COVID-19.

Snopes is still fighting an “infodemic” of rumors and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, and you can help. Find out what we've learned and how to inoculate yourself against COVID-19 misinformation. Read the latest fact checks about the vaccines. Submit any questionable rumors and “advice” you encounter. Become a Founding Member to help us hire more fact-checkers. And, please, follow the CDC or WHO for guidance on protecting your community from the disease.

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants to cover funeral expenses for families whose loved ones died due to COVID-19. According to its website, the agency would “provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020,” and will implement this program starting April 2021.

FEMA also said it would be sharing a dedicated toll-free number where people can apply for this assistance. The statement on the website says:

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families. At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus.

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, FEMA will provide financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020.

We are working with stakeholder groups to get their input on ways we can best provide this assistance, and to enlist their help with outreach to families and communities. FEMA will begin to implement COVID-19 funeral assistance in April. [...] In the meantime, people who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation.

In a news conference, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced that families would be able to receive up to $7,000 in funeral-related reimbursements from a $2 billion package dedicated to this purpose.

In order to be eligible, they have to show that the death occurred in the United States, the death certificate must indicate that the death was attributed to COVID-19, and people must have incurred those funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020. There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a citizen of the United States. FEMA will also ask for documentation of funeral expenses and—if applicable— proof of funds received from other sources.

This policy has also heightened fears of inefficiencies and fraud. A Politico report detailed how messy data surrounding the recording of COVID-19 deaths would result in potential challenges. During the early days of the pandemic, many deaths from COVID-19 were not recorded, and there were discrepancies in the language used on death certificates.

It should be noted that in the past FEMA has also paid for the funeral expenses of those who died as a result of hurricanes and storms.

Given that FEMA has itself announced this policy, we rate this claim as “True.”

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

Article Tags

Read More

a Member

Your membership is the foundation of our sustainability and resilience.


Ad-Free Browsing on Snopes.com
Members-Only Newsletter
Cancel Anytime