FEMA Assistance for COVID-19 Funerals: What Your Family Needs to Know

Our team at Cypress Lawn Funeral Home & Memorial Park has been serving Bay Area families throughout the pandemic, and we know firsthand how catastrophic the past year has been on our city, state, and world.

During this time, we have helped many of our neighbors who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19, and we hope that sharing this information will help families with the financial burden of losing a loved one.

Beginning on April 12, 2021, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will start accepting applications from families for financial assistance related to COVID-19 funeral expenses.

FEMA will offer reimbursements of up to $9,000 per person for expenses related to funerals, interment, or cremation. All expenses must have occurred after January 20, 2020.

As per FEMA’s policy, funeral homes are not allowed to apply on the behalf of families. Our staff at Cypress Lawn Funeral Home & Memorial Park — and at all of our affiliates across the Bay Area — are ready and willing to offer support to families with this process, but all claims must be filed by families with FEMA.

These applications will only be accepted through FEMA’s telephone hotline, starting on April 12, at 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585). The hotline will be open to receive calls between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. CT Monday through Friday.

To be eligible for funeral assistance, applicants must meet these conditions:

  • The death must have occurred in the U.S., 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 a qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020. There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

If your family is eligible, we recommend starting to gather all of the documentation you will need to apply. Click here to find the full list of documents that you will need.

Below are examples of the expenses that are covered under FEMA’s assistance program. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list:

  • Transportation for up to two individuals to identify the deceased individual
  • Transfer of remains
  • Casket or urn
  • Burial plot or cremation niche
  • Marker or headstone
  • Clergy or officiant services
  • Arrangement of the funeral ceremony
  • Use of funeral home equipment or staff
  • Cremation or interment costs
  • Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates
  • Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances

According to FEMA’s policy, reimbursement is not available for funerals that were paid through preneed trusts, preneed funeral insurance, irrevocable trusts for Medicare, GoFundMe, or any other agencies or donations.

Also, please be wary of scams during this time. FEMA will not be contacting anyone unless the person has previously called the agency or has already applied for assistance. If you are unsure if the phone call is legitimate, hang up and report the call to the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

FEMA has set up several web pages with digital resources for families. Click the links below for additional information:

As always, our team of experts at Cypress Lawn stands ready to assist your family in any way possible. If you need our help or guidance, don’t hesitate to contact us at any time.