Families can receive up to $9,000 funeral assistance

Vincent Marshall
Dodge City Daily Globe

Two pieces of legislation have passed recently in Congress that can provide families of a loved one who died due to COVID-19, funeral assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Starting in April, Swaim Funeral Chapel of Dodge City notified citizens that up to $9,000 could be available to families from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

According to Swaim, FEMA authorized to provide financial assistance to families that incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020.

“This has been an extraordinarily difficult year as hundreds of thousands of families throughout the country have unexpectedly had to plan a funeral when a loved one died of COVID-19,” said the staff at Swaim Funeral Chapel. “Our hearts are with, not only the families we have served, but everyone in this community who is grieving the death of a loved one or friend due to the pandemic. While this assistance cannot take away their pain and grief, it will make a tremendous difference by enabling them to meaningfully honor the life of their loved one and lay them to rest with dignity.”

A dedicated 800-number will be established to help individuals who apply with the assistance used with expenses for funeral services, memorial services, burial, interment or cremation.

For families seeking assistance, the following documentation will be needed by FEMA to determine eligibility:

  • An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are considered sufficient attribution.
  • Funeral expense documents (e.g., receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and dates the funeral expenses were incurred.
  • Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. Funeral assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance; financial assistance received from voluntary agencies; federal/state/local/tribal/territorial government programs or agencies; or other sources.

Applicants can also apply for assistance for more than one individual who died and if multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant(s).

“FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance covers eligible expenses for the services you’ve already paid for when your loved one died,” said FEMA in a press release to funeral homes. “And, as our community becomes safer, your family may choose to plan a memorial service in your loved one’s honor that all of your family and friends can attend – something that many families are finding to be a meaningful experience. Those expenses may also be eligible.”

According to Swaim, families will be able to apply for assistance at any time but said FEMA recommends waiting until after all services have been contracted to avoid any issues of having to amend an initial application, if families wish to have a memorial service when it is safe to do so.

“If there is anything we can do to assist families with the application process – such as by ordering copies of a death certificate or providing copies of receipts or contracts showing the expenses that were incurred – please call us at 620-227-2136," said Swaim. "Our staff can also speak with families at any time about planning a memorial service for your loved one.”

For complete information about eligibility requirements, documentation applicants will be required to provide, and how to start the application process, visit https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.

To contact the writer email vmarshall@gannett.com