Yes, FEMA Still Pays for COVID-19 Funeral Expenses

Although some medical experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has now entered an endemic status in the United States, that has not stopped the flow of money from the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, usually called FEMA, will still pay for some COVID-19-related funeral expenses. Funerals are notoriously expensive, and people whose family members died as a result of their COVID-19 infection may be able to save money on funeral expenses thanks to this continuing FEMA benefit. On April 29, FEMA released a statement that it is still covering funeral expenses for deaths caused by COVID-19.

How Much Will FEMA Cover?

Family members of people who passed away from COVID-19 may receive up to $9,000 for funeral expenses. If a family has experienced more than one COVID-19 related death, it may receive up to $35,000. According to FEMA, family members include minor and adult children, siblings, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Only one family member can receive the reimbursement. For example, each grown child cannot be reimbursed $9,000 for their parent's funeral expenses. Only one of the children can receive the reimbursement. FEMA may also pay for funeral expenses from other relatives or even a friend.

What Funeral Expenses Are Covered By FEMA?

FEMA pays for typical funeral expenses, including cremation and burial fees. It also pays for an officiant and transportation expenses. The transportation expenses include the cost of transporting the decedent and the cost of up to two transporting family members to the funeral. FEMA will pay for the use of the funeral home. It will also cover the cost of the casket or urn, headstone or grave marker, burial plot or cremation niche and certification and copies of the death certificate.

What Funeral Expenses Aren't Covered By FEMA?

While FEMA will pay for a lot of costs related to a funeral, the agency won't pay for every expense. Flowers are not included in FEMA's coverage for a funeral. FEMA will not pay for wreaths. The agency does not pay for funerary clothes for the decedent. It also will not cover memorial photos, cards or obituary printing or online obituary announcements.

How Much Does an Average Funeral Cost?

The average cost of a funeral varies by state. The median price of a burial style of funeral exceeds $10,000 in 2022. The average cost of cremation is $8,000. This means that FEMA's benefit will pay for most or all of the cost of an average funeral in all states. Embalming and body preparation costs $500 to $1,000. Transportation also costs $500 to $1,000 for the decedent. The typical funeral service fee is $2,500, and a casket's price also averages $2,500. Funeral home fees cost about $1,500 for a closed casket. A viewing with an open casket costs more. The cost of cremation is typically less than the cost of a casket. Families that choose cremation also won't pay as much for body preparation fees or service fees.

What Are Some Other Ways Families Can Reduce the Burden of Funeral Costs?

Many families do not realize that funeral costs are not fixed. Many parts of a funeral's costs can be negotiated. It is also possible to entirely forego some of the common costs associated with funerals. Planning ahead and comparison shopping online is one way to reduce funeral expenses. In nearly all states, embalming is not required for a one-day funeral. Families could ask the funeral home to refrigerate the body instead.

Skipping the so-called protective gaskets on the casket could save another $800 on funeral expenses. These gaskets do not actually preserve the body. For a direct cremation, families could skip the casket. Cardboard or a wood box costs less and has a smaller impact on the environment. No law requires a casket for direct cremations, and many states do not require a casket for a burial. The cemetery may accept other containers, such as wood boxes or pressboard. Look for alternative casket suppliers. Costco sells caskets for less than $1,000.

How Can a Family Request Funeral Expense Reimbursement or Assistance?

Qualifying families may contact FEMA at 844-684-6333. The agency also has information on its website. Telephone services are available in multiple languages. That is because the agency wants to be able to help as many people as possible. Each person who has suffered the loss of a family member will be able to speak with a FEMA representative and apply for assistance.

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