Lost a loved one to COVID? FEMA may reimburse funeral expenses
(CBS Newspath) — Over the past year, the families of more than 560,000 Americans have had to bury their loved ones who died of COVID-19. As of Monday (4/12), they can apply for federal aid to off-set some of those costs.
Tammy Bowman had to go through receipts and documents related to her sister Kim’s death. Kim Blanchar of Indianapolis died of COVID-19 as the pandemic began. “And she said, ‘I didn’t want to get COVID.’ And I said, ‘We didn’t want you to get it,’” said Bowman.
The unexpected death presented an unexpected financial burden. The family paid for cremation with help from friends, but April 12th, Bowman applied for a federal reimbursement for the thousands of dollars she spent. “And you hate to even think about it because it’s so not important, but it’s real,” she said.
FEMA is now accepting applications through a toll-free hotline, offering up to $9,000 per funeral to ease the financial burden on families who have lost loved ones due to COVID.
To be eligible for a reimbursement, the death must have occurred inside the U.S. and the death certificate must list COVID as a direct or indirect cause of death. That’s causing problems for some families.
Ut Thi Weaver’s daughter said she took her mother to the hospital last July when she got sick with COVID. The New Orleans hospital listed her death as cardiopulmonary, making the Weaver family ineligible to receive reimbursement. “The audacity of not noting that it’s COVID, when the patients were clearly in the COVID ICU, is an insult to the memory of these beloved ones who are now no longer with us,” says Barbara Weaver.
Weaver says the hospital is working to change the death certificate, but she says there are many more families like hers having to deal with too much bureaucracy to get help.
The phone number to apply is: 844-684-6333. Applicants must also show funeral expense documents and receipts.