People who have paid for the funeral and burial expenses of someone who died of Covid-19 will be offered extensive federal financial aid starting Monday, according to a Federal Emergency Management Agency announcement.
The coronavirus has claimed the lives of more than 556,000 Americans, according to a New York Times database. Under the comprehensive assistance program, their next of kin can request compensation of up to $ 9,000 for the purchase of a plot, funeral, headstone, clergy, transfer of remains, cremation, or other services related to a funeral.
"The Covid-19 pandemic has caused overwhelming grief for many families," the agency said in a statement statement announcing the expanded benefits“At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are committed to relieving some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus. "
Congress approved billions of dollars to fund funeral benefits in two Covid measures, the measure signed in December by former President Donald J. Trump and the one known as the US bailout plan signed by President Biden last month.
Both measures included additional funding for funeral services in an attempt to cushion the financial blow to families, many of whom are already struggling due to the loss of income during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
To be eligible for compensation, an applicant must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident who has documentation that he has paid funeral expenses for someone whose death "may have been caused by" or "likely resulted from" Covid-19 or "Covid-19-like symptoms", or whose data includes "similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of Covid-19", according to FEMA. The person who died does not have to be a citizen or Resident of the United States, the agency said.
According to the agency, FEMA will reimburse funeral expenses for multiple people in the same family, up to a maximum of $ 35,000. But the amount of federal assistance will be reduced if applicants also receive support from other sources, including insurance policies designed specifically to pay funeral expenses.
The effort to ease the pandemic's financial burden is one of the greatest efforts the agency has ever undertaken. It also presents a potential for fraud, as the agency acknowledges in bright red letters on its website.
"Fraud Alert: We have received reports of scammers contacting people offering to register them for funeral funeral assistance," the warning says. "FEMA has not sent such notifications and we do not contact people before registering for assistance."
The agency will start taking applications on Monday. Applicants can call a hotline at (844) 684-6333.