There’s no fourth stimulus check, but a more obscure COVID benefit covers $9,000 for a funeral – Community News
Stimulus Check

There’s no fourth stimulus check, but a more obscure COVID benefit covers $9,000 for a funeral

There's no fourth stimulus check, but a more obscure COVID benefit covers $9,000 for a funeral

There’s no fourth stimulus check, but a more obscure COVID benefit covers $9,000 for a funeral

The country’s massive pandemic rescue plan includes one type of funding that’s getting less attention: a funeral assistance program that provides families of COVID victims up to $9,000 to cover funeral costs.

As part of the $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill signed by President Joe Biden in March, the funeral expenses program is providing much-needed assistance to families who have lost wages during the pandemic or are trying to recover from debt. That said, there is no income limit to apply.

Here you can read more about who is eligible for funeral assistance and how you can get it.

How does it work?

Flaming candles at the funeral ceremony inside

Konstantin Tronin / Shutterstock

While the federal government has previously helped Americans cover funeral expenses during disasters, this initiative will be the largest of its kind.

It is led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the government branch that responds to hurricanes and floods.

In a statement dated Nov. 1, FEMA says it has provided more than $1.2 billion in COVID funeral support to more than 196,000 people.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought tremendous grief to many families,” FEMA said on its website. “At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters. We are committed to helping alleviate some of the financial stress and burden caused by the virus.”

Through the assistance program, next of kin can request reimbursement for the purchase of a plot, burial, tombstone, clergy services, transfer of remains, cremation or other funeral services.

Who is eligible for support?

Male doctor holding female patient hand on hospital bed.

Pitchayaarch Photography / Shutterstock

To apply, you must be a U.S. citizen, citizen, or qualified alien who paid the funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.

And those funeral expenses should be for a person whose death in the United States may have been caused by or likely resulted from COVID-19, according to FEMA’s website.

You can claim up to $9,000 for an individual’s funeral expenses, but if you’ve lost more than one member of your family, you can claim up to $35,000.

But if you’ve already received some other form of funeral assistance — such as a funeral benefit tied to life insurance — that will reduce or completely offset what you’re entitled to under the FEMA program.

And you only get what you paid for. So if you opted for a cheaper funeral, you may not get the full $9,000.

Funeral expenses are just one category of the many expenses that families incur when a loved one dies.

What do I have to do to get money?

Worried elderly man sitting on the couch making a call

fizkes / Shutterstock

FEMA has a dedicated toll-free hotline and call center to answer questions about the program.

Families, regardless of income, can call 844-684-6333 to apply. FEMA says the process will take about 20 minutes, but advises applicants to gather all necessary information and documentation before placing the call to speed things up.

Once you have successfully applied, the agency will provide you with an application number and provide supporting documents online, by fax or by post.

FEMA will ask you to provide the receipts and other documentation of what you paid for, including coffins or urns, cemeteries, headstones, a funeral service and all other expenses.

There is currently no option to request help online. FEMA has also not assigned a deadline for applying for funeral assistance.

How can you save on other costs during this difficult time?

Hipster man hands holding wallet with credit cards and pile of money.

beanchoke / Shutterstock

Even disregarding funeral costs, millions of American households are struggling to make ends meet nearly two years after the global pandemic.

If you spend money cautiously in these uncertain times, you have a number of options.

  • Shrink your other insurance bills. You may be paying $1,100 a year too much for your car insurance. Shop around for a better deal and save yourself hundreds a month. And while you’re at it, you can save a few more hundred dollars off your budget by comparing rates to find a lower price on homeowners insurance.

  • Get the best deals. Prices can go up everywhere when you shop online, so be careful not to overpay. A price comparison tool automatically searches for better deals and coupons before you click ‘buy’.

  • Lower the price of your debt. If you rely on your credit card, you will soon have to deal with a lot of expensive interest. Keep your debt in check — and pay it off faster — by converting your balances into a lower-interest debt consolidation loan.

  • Build your investment portfolio. You don’t need another stimulus check – or any money at all – to go public or broaden your investments. A popular app helps you build a diversified portfolio by investing your “change” from everyday purchases.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It comes without any kind of warranty.