Local funeral homes want to make sure that families whose loved ones died from COVID-19 know about FEMA’s funeral assistance.
“We’ve printed up a Q-and-A to give people,” said John Allison, a licensed funeral director at Sebrell Funeral Home in Ridgeland. “We’ve had a couple of people interested.”
Ellis Wright, manager at Wright & Ferguson Funeral Home with locations in Flowood, Clinton and Raymond, said funeral directors give families a letter about the assistance.
“We’ve had two or three families that called us after that was announced,” he said. “We’ve had a good many COVID deaths over the last two years.”
Nationwide, FEMA has provided more than $1.088 billion to more than 165,000 people to assist with COVID-19-related funeral costs for deaths that occurred on after Jan. 20, 2020.
As of Sept. 7, 4,375 Mississippi residents have started the application process, according to FEMA, and 2,562 awards have been made for a total of $25,459.
Mississippi has led the nation in the number of deaths due to the coronavirus. The Mississippi State Department of Health reported on Oct. 13 that the state’s total number of coronavirus cases was 496,851 with 9,900 deaths.
FEMA will provide up to $9,000 in assistance to families who have incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020.
Families who have had more than one COVID-related death may be eligible for FEMA assistance in the full amount of $9,000 for each funeral, up to a maximum of $35,000.
The assistance includes expenses for funeral services and interment or creation, transportation for up to two people for identification, transfer of remains, casket or urn, burial plot or cremation niche and marker or headstone.
Also covered is clergy or officiant services, arrangement of the funeral ceremony, use of funeral home equipment or staff, interment, costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates and additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances.
An applicant must have an official death certificate attributing the death directly or indirectly to COVID-19 and proof of funeral expenses. Proof of any burial or funeral insurance, government burial benefits must be disclosed.
If several families have joined to pay for funeral services, they must submit just one application. Only one person may apply for the FEMA benefit per COVID-19 related funeral.
An applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020.
Qualified applicants can receive a check by mail or opt for funds to be direct deposited into a bank account. The funds are not sent directly to a funeral home.
FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline may be reached at 1-844-684-6333 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday.
The fastest way to submit documentation is online through disasterassistance.gov.