IOWA – FEMA is providing financial assistance for COVID-19 funeral expenses. The program will begin accepting applications Monday, April 12.
Funeral directors were with families as they planned services for their loved ones during the pandemic. Now they are standing by to answer questions, gather documents, and help people apply for this assistance.
“So many families lost loved ones, maybe people who weren’t elderly or weren’t expected to die, and they were maybe financially caught off guard with that,” Mark Parrish, the funeral director at Caldwell Parrish Funeral Home, said. “Maybe they lost their job through the pandemic and finances were a little tight. I think this will help them kind of get back on their feet and get going.”
Here’s what you need to know about the program:
- People can apply by calling the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line. The toll-free number is 844-684-6333.
- FEMA will reimburse funds up to $9,000.
- The assistance will be for funeral expenses since Jan. 20, 2020 and ongoing. Current and future services will be eligible for payment.
- The death must have occurred in the United States.
- The death certificate must indicate COVID-19 as the cause of death.
The Iowa Funeral Directors Association has stayed on top of program updates and communicated them with local funeral directors. Executive Director Suzanne Gebel says because many COVID-19 deaths were surprises, FEMA is focused on disaster assistance.
“They’re reimbursing families that didn’t plan for a death of this nature, and they’re reimbursing them for the services, the ceremonies, the casket or the urn, things that the funeral director did for them,” Gebel said. “And so those charges, as long as there wasn’t something set aside specifically for a death and tied to a contract with the funeral home, those things should be able to be reimbursed.”