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VERIFY: Yes, FEMA will pay funeral expenses for people who died from COVID-19

The federal agency has authority to do this in all disaster situations. However, it wasn't given the go-ahead until this month.

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of thousands of American families have been forced to grieve through the pandemic. Does the government have plans to step in to help with funeral costs?

QUESTION:

Is FEMA paying funeral expenses for people who died from COVID-19?

ANSWER:

There is a plan to pay for funerals and reimburse funerals that already took place.

SOURCES:

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency 
  • Elizabeth Zimmerman, the former FEMA associate administrator for the Office of Response and Recovery.

PROCESS:

“FEMA, through their individual assistance program has the ability to pay for funeral expenses,” Elizabeth Zimmerman said.

According to Zimmerman, FEMA can pay for funerals after a president declares a disaster.

“Typically, funeral expenses are covered on a cost-share basis,” she said. “So, FEMA would pay 75%, and the states would be responsible for 25%.”

RELATED: FEMA will help cover some funeral costs for COVID victims. Here's what you need to apply

Former President Trump already declared the pandemic a disaster in 2020. But it wasn’t until this week, Congress gave FEMA $2 billion to pay for funerals.

“This new policy, and the authorities that Congress gave to FEMA, in order to pay 100% of the cost for the funeral expenses,” she said.

As a result, FEMA will pay up to $9,000 for funeral expenses per deceased individual. This includes families that already buried loved ones in 2020. They can get reimbursed.

The program will start next month.

“Basically, a claim will have a death certificate,” Zimmerman said. “The death certificate must say that cause caused by or related to COVID.

What if the $2 billion runs out?

Zimmerman said Congress set aside $50 billion to replenish FEMA’s disaster accounts. The agency would then tap into that.