Funeral Assistance for the COVID-19 Pandemic
Title II of Division M of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 appropriated an additional $2,000,000,000 to the DRF to carry out the work of Section 201 of Title II, which requires FEMA to provide Funeral Assistance through the IHP for the presidential Stafford Act declarations of emergency issued on March 13, 2020, and subsequent major disaster declarations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. It provides reimbursements for such expenses incurred through December 31, 2020, at a 100% federal cost share.
The Funeral Assistance provided through the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, has a more limited period of assistance than the IHP usually does. IHP assistance is usually provided for up to 18 months following a declaration (unless extended by FEMA), which, if authorized for the COVID-19 declarations, would run until around the end of September to early November 2021. This Funeral Assistance, however, is only available for expenses incurred through December 31, 2020.
Additionally, although the federal cost share for ONA is set at 75% in statute, Congress has the ability to adjust the federal cost share of ONA through legislation, as was done in this case.
According to FEMA, the agency is currently “reviewing the legislation [Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021] and evaluating potential options for implementation.”
FEMA provides Funeral Assistance for disaster-caused funeral expenses. Not all of the expenses associated with the death of a household member are eligible for Funeral Assistance. FEMA’s guidance lists
Eligible expenses associated with interment or reinternment, which include:
- remains transfer
- burial plots/cremation niches
- markers/headstones; and
- additional state/local/territorial/tribal (SLTT) government mandated expenses
Eligible interment expenses include
- transportation to identify the deceased (up to 2 people), if required by SLTT authorities;
- funeral services
- clergy/officiant services; and
- death certificate costs (up to five.)
Eligible reinternment expenses include:
- Funeral services (with limitations); and
- the cost of identifying disinterred remains
Ineligible expenses include costs associated with:
- printed materials
- transporting people to funeral services or interment/reinternment sites
This is an excerpt from a new federal program to distribute $2 Billion dollars to help offset the cost of Covid funeral related expenses.