Houston, Texas – The staff at Morales Funeral Home want the citizens of Houston to be aware, that beginning on April 12th, families that experienced the death of a loved one due to COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $9,000 in funeral assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Two pieces of legislation recently passed by Congress – the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 – authorized FEMA to provide financial assistance to families that incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
“This has been an extraordinarily difficult year as hundreds of thousands of families throughout the country have unexpectedly had to plan a funeral when a loved one died of COVID-19,” said Christina Morales, President, Morales Funeral Home. “Our hearts are with, not only the families we have served, but everyone in this community who is grieving the death of a loved one or friend due to the pandemic. While this assistance cannot take away their pain and grief, it will make a tremendous difference by enabling them to meaningfully honor the life of their loved one and lay them to rest with dignity.”
Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral and memorial services, and burial, interment or cremation. In April, a dedicated 800-number will be established to help individuals who apply. FEMA encourages families that may be eligible to start gathering the following documentation:
- An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are considered sufficient attribution.
- Funeral expense documents (e.g., receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and dates the funeral expenses were incurred.
- Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. Funeral assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance; financial assistance received from voluntary agencies; federal/state/local/tribal/territorial government programs or agencies; or other sources.
If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant(s). Applicants can also apply for assistance for more than one individual who died.
“FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance covers eligible expenses for the services you’ve already paid for when your loved one died,” said Morales. “And, as our community becomes safer, your family may choose to plan a memorial service in your loved one’s honor that all of your family and friends can attend – something that many families are finding to be a meaningful experience. Those expenses may also be eligible.”
While families can apply for assistance at any time, if they do wish to have a memorial service when it is safe to do so, FEMA recommends waiting until after all services have been contracted to avoid the hassle of amending an initial application.
The FEMA website has complete information about eligibility requirements, documentation applicants will be required to provide, and how to start the application process. Visit https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.
“If there is anything we can do to assist families with the application process – such as by ordering copies of a death certificate or providing copies of receipts or contracts showing the expenses that were incurred – please call us,” said Morales. “Our staff can also speak with families at any time about planning a memorial service for your loved one that all of your loved ones and friends can attend when it is safe to do so.”
Families may wish to visit RememberingALife.com, for “Planning a Service in the Future – Free Planning Guide” for ideas on how they can honor a loved one and other information that may be useful as they continue their grief journey.
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