The Biden administration has amended some rules, making it easier to get funeral costs reimbursed for people who have lost family members due to COVID-19. This means if your application was already rejected, you still have a chance to get up to $9,000 in funeral costs paid for by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Here’s what you need to know.
As part of the $2.3 trillion spending package that President Trump signed in December 2020, $2 billion was set aside for FEMA’s pandemic funeral assistance program, which covers the unexpected costs of losing a family member to COVID. The program reimburses funeral costs, which includes the service, cremation, casket or urn purchase, burial plot, headstone, and transportation. (FEMA has run smaller-scale versions of this program before, for victims of major hurricanes and other natural disasters).
The only problem? The fund has only doled out $447 million so far, as applicants have complained that they’ve been rejected based on death certificate requirements that are too stringent.
As Politico has reported, death certificates originally had to state that a family member’s death was caused by, or “may have been caused by” COVID. However, that excludes thousands of Americans who died early on in the pandemic when testing was limited and doctors were struggling to understand the disease. As a result, many death certificates from that time don’t specify the cause of death as being related to COVID.
Now, with a rule change, new and previously rejected applicants can submit a supplementary letter from the death certificate’s certifying official that links the death to COVID, applicable to deaths between Jan. 20 and May 16 of last year (a death certificate that mentions COVID as a cause of death is still required after May 16, however).
All other eligibility and documentation requirements for the program can be found here. If you’re unsure whether you might qualify, you can also call the Funeral Assistance Helpline, at 844-684-6333, Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.
This article was originally published on Feb. 10, 2021 and updated on July 7, 2021 with new information.
Source link: lifehacker.com