The COVID-19 pandemic has brought overwhelming grief to many families. With many families struggling through the pandemic with loss of jobs and income the added expense of providing a funeral for a loved one that succumbed to the virus has been a heavy burden.
This has been especially true for many in Charlestown but a new program by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) aims to ease some of those financial burdens.
Last week FEMA launched a new program that began providing financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020 for deaths related to COVID to, “help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic”.
Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the new program will reimburse local residents who lost a loved one to COVID up to $9,000 for funeral expenses.
“At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters,” said Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton. “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.”
Over at the Carr Funeral Home in Charlestown, Funeral Director Phil Carr said the pandemic has been particularly tough for many families in the neighborhood. Carr said the new program is a great idea and can provide some extra comfort to grieving families.
“When I think back to this point in time last year Charlestown was hit very, very hard,” said Carr. “A lot of families suffered serious, serious losses and unfortunately with all the restrictions it was a very disappointing time. A year ago, families weren’t able to mourn. Anything that helps these families out by all means is a great idea.”
Carr said he and his staff are on hand to help out in any way they can.
“We’re used to doing paperwork and what has to be done for this process,” said Carr. “While we cannot submit the forms on behalf of families we are here to help anyone and everyone that is interested in the program. They can call us anytime.”
Through the program families may qualify for up to $9,000 for funeral costs related to a single loved one and up to $35,500 for funeral costs related to multiple COVID-19 deaths.
Families should keep and gather documentation. The types of information should include an official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Other important documents are funeral expenses documents that include the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses happened.
To be eligible for FEMA’s funeral assistance, you must meet these conditions:
The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.
The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
There is no requirement for the deceased person to have been a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.
FEMA began accepting applications Monday, April 12 and additional Information may be found at https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.