The Federal Emergency Management Agency has expanded its definition of disaster relief with its latest program, which it hopes will lessen the financial burden of families whose loved ones have died from COVID-19.
On Wednesday, FEMA announced in a press release that starting in April, it will reimburse funeral expenses and allocate up to $9,000 for individuals and a maximum of $35,000 for multiple funerals. The money comes from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021, which includes $2 billion for “individuals and households” who had to pay for funerals between Jan. 20 and Dec. 31, 2020, according to ABC News.
The agency is also gearing up to launch a dedicated 800 number and call center to help guide individuals as they apply. In the meantime, FEMA has urged potential applicants to gather documentation like death certificates, receipts and expense documents, and proof of funds received from other sources.
FEMA wrote in its statement that it looks to “help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic.”
“At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters,” FEMA Administrator Robert Fenton said in the press release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate.”