POINT PLEASANT — For families who suffered the unexpected loss of a loved one and funeral expenses due to COVID-19, FEMA is providing some financial relief to eligible applicants.
According to a news release, beginning this month, FEMA will provide financial assistance for funeral expenses incurred after January 20, 2020, for deaths related to COVID-19.
Locally, residents can contact the Mason County Clerk’s Office for assistance, according to County Clerk Diana Cromley who’s staff has attempted to contact area families they have been made aware of who could be eligible.
Gov. Jim Justice also announced the initiative earlier this week.
“The intent is to help ease some of the financial stress and burden caused by the pandemic,” Gov. Justice said.
The governor’s office also released the following: FEMA is now accepting applications for this new COVID-19 Funeral Assistance through a dedicated call center. West Virginians who are eligible for this financial assistance should call the toll-free COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number: 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585 to apply. The assistance line is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Mayor Brian Billings announced the assistance at this week’s COVID-19 memorial observance, also attended by Cromley who offered her office’s services to assist in navigating this new nationwide policy recently finalized by FEMA.
“At FEMA, our mission is to help people before, during and after disasters,” said Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton in a statement. “The COVID-I9 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate.”
To be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance:
– The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020 for a death attributed to COVID-19.
– If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. FEMA will also consider documentation from other individuals not listed as the applicant and co-applicant who may have incurred funeral expenses as part of the registration for the deceased individual.
– An applicant may apply for multiple deceased individuals.
– The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
– This assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application.
– Funeral assistance is intended to assist with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation.
Potential applicants are encouraged to start gathering the following documentation:
– 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 (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.
Locally, contact Cromley’s office for assistant at 304-675-1997.
Information provided by FEMA, the office of Gov. Jim Justice and the office of Mason County Clerk Diana Cromley.