FEMA to reimburse families for COVID-19 funeral costs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Families who lost loved ones due to the COVID-19 pandemic can soon get money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help cover funeral costs.

The coronavirus has claimed more than 32,000 lives in Florida since the start of the pandemic, including nearly 1,300 in Duval County.

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Darryl Patterson, the owner of Patterson Cremation and Funeral Service, said he’s done about 200 funeral services for COVID-19-related deaths in the past year.

“It’s something that you never get used to,” Patterson said. “I’ve had some personal connections with a lot of people that we’ve served that lost a family due to COVID.”

Aside from dealing with grief, Patterson said funerals can get expensive. He said families can pay anywhere from $800 to upward of $10,000, depending on the services.

“A lot of times people don’t plan for a death,” Patterson said. “The funeral expense — where is that money going to come from?”

FEMA announced $2 billion in special funds will go toward helping families pay for coronavirus-related funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020.

Patterson said it will be a big relief for families.

“This program will allow them to now have a funeral and to be able to give closure, you know, to say their goodbyes,” Patterson said.

Patterson said he’s already received about 10 calls this week from families who plan to apply for the funds.

To be eligible for funeral assistance, you must meet these requirements:

  • The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
  • The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020.
  • There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien.

FEMA stated it plans to open the application process in April. It recommends holding onto certain documents like:

  • An official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
  • Funeral expenses documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the funeral expenses amount and the dates the funeral expenses happened.
  • Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. FEMA stated it’s not able to duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies or other sources.

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If you’re eligible, you can choose to receive a check by mail or funds by direct deposit.

To read more information, click here.