The Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide up to $9,000 to help cover funeral costs for people who died from COVID-19, according to information provided this week by the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance and the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.

Money already spent can be reimbursed, according to the news release, which follows a final policy on providing financial assistance for COVID-19-related funeral expenses issued recently by the federal agency.

Greene County has had 151 virus-related deaths during the pandemic. The county recorded 13 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and currently has 95 active cases, according to a daily updated from the Tennessee Department of Health.

The state Commerce Department and funeral directors association said they issued the news release to raise awareness among consumers and Tennessee funeral professionals of the FEMA policy.

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Congress authorized FEMA to provide financial assistance to individuals who incurred COVID-19 related funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020.

“FEMA has issued its final policy, which includes details such as eligibility and documentation criteria and the application process, for how funds will be distributed to families,” the news release said.

“I urge affected consumers to learn more about this federal financial assistance program in order to help cover burial expenses that may have been incurred,” Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers Executive Director Robert Gribble said in the release.

ELIGIBILITY

As part of its policy, FEMA will only award COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for a deceased individual on a single application. If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should register under a single application as applicant and co-applicant.

The applicant or co-applicant must have incurred the funeral expenses. The deceased individual’s documentation status is not considered as part of the reimbursement process, but the applicant or applicants must be U.S. citizens, legal residents, asylees, refugees or non-citizen nationals.

Families should decide who the applicant and any co-applicants will be and to gather the documents they need to be reimbursed for expenses.

REQUIRED DOCUMENTS

The applicant must provide the following documents:

  • A copy of the death certificate. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely a result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are also considered sufficient.
  • Proof of funeral expenses incurred. Documentation, including receipts and a funeral home contract, must include the applicant’s name as the responsible person for the expense, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and that funeral expenses were incurred after Jan. 20, 2020.

ELIGIBLE EXPENSES

Eligible funeral expenses include, but are not limited to:

  • Transportation for up to two individuals to identify the deceased individual.
  • Transfer of remains.
  • Casket or urn.
  • Burial plot or cremation niche.
  • Marker or headstone.
  • Clergy or officiant services.
  • Arrangement of the funeral ceremony.
  • Use of funeral home equipment or staff.
  • Cremation or interment costs.
  • Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates.
  • Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances.

If applicants have already received reimbursement for certain funeral expenses through government agencies, voluntary agencies, nonprofits, burial or funeral insurance then they cannot resubmit those same expenses for reimbursement through this FEMA-administered program.

If applicants received any outside assistance, they must include documentation of this assistance in their application. If they received financial assistance through the deceased’s life insurance policy, they can still apply for reimbursement.