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I-Team: Federal government launches program to reimburse funeral expenses after COVID deaths


WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — More than 550,000 people have died as a result of COVID-19 with more than 25,000 in Pennsylvania.

The Federal Government has launched a program to reimburse families for funeral expenses for loved ones who died from COVID or COVID-related illnesses.

It’s called the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program. It’s part of the American Recovery Act. The program is designed to provide some financial relief for families who already have lost so much because of the coronavirus.

The John V. Morris Funeral Home in Wilkes-Barre has helped families deal with the loss of a loved one due to the coronavirus pandemic. John Morris says the funeral assistance program–run by F.E.M.A, the federal emergency management agency, can help provide financial assistance to those families.

“This does include all personal and professional services of the funeral home and staff. It does include peripheral charges, cemetery, crematory charges, the monument,” Morris said.

The program requires the families to provide certain information to apply for federal reimbursement. Key of which is the death certificate.

“The death certificate must show on the primary or contributory cause COVID-19 as contributing or immediate cause of death,” Morris said.

According to F.E.M.A. an individual can apply for reimbursement of $9,000, a family can apply for up to $35,000 for multiple deaths due to COVID and people can apply for the reimbursement by calling F.E.M.A. There is no online application.

“I told my family we recently served the process is pretty streamlined. Once you get them on the line and there’s a lag time and you get through, it’s about a half hour process,” Morris said.

A F.E.M.A. spokesperson tells Eyewitness News that since the program opened on April 12th they have received just over 100,000 applications for funeral reimbursement.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average funeral costs about $8,000. F.E.M.A. is also warning of scam threats.

These are individuals who will offer to help people apply for these federal funds for a fee. F.E.M.A. points out there is no fee to apply.

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