Federal program offers free money for COVID victim funerals, but few takers so far


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A federal program that reimburses for the burial costs of loved ones who died from COVID-19 is having trouble attracting recipients.

“Many people are leaving serious dollars on the table,” said Ed Michael Reggie, owner of funeralocity.com, a website that helps people navigate funeral costs by posting the prices of every funeral home in the area for services from cremation to burials.

The federal funeral assistance program, operated by FEMA, reimburses families up to $9,000. Everyone is eligible no matter their income. So even if your loved one died last year, you can still submit a claim.

Many people have yet to take advantage of the program. For example, in Missouri, about 48% of eligible families have applied for the money. The percentage is even lower in Kansas at 39%.

“The FEMA funeral reimbursement program is a big deal,” Reggie said. “It’s being incredibly underutilized.”

To get the money, visit the FEMA website’s page for COVID-19 funeral assistance to find out all the facts before you call FEMA at 844-684-6333. The only way you can apply is by phone. A FEMA representative will ask you for a copy of your loved one’s death certificate and social security number, along with an itemized receipt from a funeral home.

Remember, no one from the federal government will contact you about this assistance program. So, if you do receive a call, hang up. It’s a scam.

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