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.”