FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – People who have had to pay for funerals of family members who died of COVID-19 can now be reimbursed for the costs. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has started accepting applications for its funeral assistance program.
“Going through a death is always difficult and grief is something that is a journey and takes time,” Jarod Steffen, a funeral director at Fairhaven funeral home told WANE 15. “Families were unfortunately not able to have a full service and invite their full social circles and the community they were a part of. It makes the grieving process harder.”
According to the funeral director, the unexpected assistance will help families who were already experiencing a tougher-than-normal process of saying their final goodbyes.
“That was tough really tough to see,” Steffen added. “It was tough to sit at a funeral arrangement conference or be at a funeral with so few people and see the hurt that it caused families. But families did the best that they could and we did the best that they could to guide them and provide for them.”
Whoever paid for the funeral expenses can now apply for that help, but will need documentation to prove the death was COVID-related. According to Steffen, funeral planners can help applicants get organized. He also told WANE 15 to expect the application process to take longer, the more people that request help.
Those who qualify, can complete an application by calling FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number at 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585). No online applications are being accepted.
According to FEMA’s website, expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation typically include, but are not limited to:
- 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
Depending on which option you chose when applying, funds will be directly deposited or a check will be sent through thre mail.