On Wednesday, MArch 24, 2021 FEMA issued a press release about the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program. It includes a link to their interim policy for the program as well as a Funeral Assistance FAQ that addresses a number of topics, such as who can apply, the application process, eligible funeral expenses, documentation needed, and more. We encourage you to read the FEMA FAQs.

Yesterday, NFDA hosted a webinar with a FEMA official. During that program, several questions were answered that have already been submitted to PFDA. We wanted to share the answers to those questions specifically:

1)      Q: If a funeral was prepaid using a preneed burial/funeral insurance policy or trust, would those expenses be eligible?

A: No. Applicants are not able to seek reimbursement for funeral insurance policies/trusts or other forms of assistance specifically intended to cover funeral costs. This would be considered a duplication of benefits as the policy/trust was set up in the anticipation of need. However, if the funeral insurance policy/trust did not cover the full cost of eligible funeral expenses, then those expenses not covered by the policy/trust could be submitted for reimbursement. For example, someone opened a preneed trust years ago, and when they died the trust covered $6,000 of an $8,000 total funeral bill, the person who incurred the difference of $2,000 could apply to get reimbursed for $2,000 assuming other eligibility requirements are met.

2)      Q: Can an applicant apply for reimbursement if funeral expenses were paid for using life insurance?

A: Yes. If funeral expenses were paid using life insurance, and the life insurance was not specifically purchased to cover funeral costs, the funeral expenses would be eligible for reimbursement.

3)      Q: Can the reimbursement benefit be assigned directly to the funeral home if the funeral home has not yet been paid, or if the funeral home would like to apply on behalf of a family?

A: No, FEMA is unable to assign the benefit to anyone other than the person that incurred the expense.

4)      Q: Can someone apply for reimbursement for service not yet rendered, or a service that was added on? (Example: A direct cremation or burial took place, but the memorial service was planned for later, or added on at a later date.)

A: Yes, FEMA views a signed contract as a commitment to pay; therefore, those expenses can be included when applying, even if payment has not yet been made to the funeral home, or if the services have not yet been rendered by the funeral home. FEMA encourages submitting all documents showing the full cost of all services at once when applying to avoid having to go through their appeal process to request additional reimbursement.

5)      Q: Must the applicant submit an original certified death certificate?

A: No, FEMA only requires a copy of certified death certificate be submitted.

6)      Q: If someone was able to get a death certificate amended to indicate the cause of death was COVID-19, could they then apply for reimbursement?

A: Yes. According to FEMA, and assuming other eligibility requirements are met, if a certifying official were to amend a death certificate to include COVID-19, that decedent’s funeral expenses could be submitted for reimbursement.

7)      Q: What is the deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

A: Currently, there is no deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. FEMA will communicate a specific deadline once established.

8)      Q: Will FEMA provide educational resources about COVID-19 Funeral Assistance?

A: Yes. FEMA is developing a document, as well as a video which will be posted on YouTube, to help educate the public on eligibility and the application process.

9)      Q: Is the reimbursement taxable to applicants?

A: No. The reimbursement is not taxable as disaster funding is not taxable.

10)  Q: Is there an income threshold for applicants?

A: No. Income is asked about during the application process for demographic information, but there is no income threshold to apply for funeral assistance.

11)  Q: Will there be any more webinars with FEMA?

A: Yes, NFDA will offering another free member-only webinar on March 30 – NFDA members can click here register for the March 30 webinar. NFDA will also be holding an open webinar for all funeral professionals, including nonmembers, on April 1 – click here to register for the April 1 webinar. ICCFA is also hosting a free webinar open to all funeral professionals, including nonmembers, on March 31 – click here to register for the March 30 webinar. It is recommended to register right away if you’re interested as the webinars are expected to reach capacity.

PFDA will continue to provide updates on any new information or clarification related to FEMA Funeral Assistance as it becomes available. Again, we encourage you to read FEMA's Funeral Assistance FAQ and let PFDA know if you have any questions.

Graziano Funeral Home
Phone: (570) 654-7831
Fax: (570) 654-2759
700 South Township Boulevard, Pittston, PA 18640

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