(Washington, DC) – The DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) has released a translated webinar about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program. This program provides financial assistance to individuals nationwide who incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses on or after January 20, 2020. Funding for the program comes through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Residents can visit coronavirus.dc.gov/funeralassistance to watch the webinar hosted by DC Homeland Security Emergency Management Agency and the Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs which is available in Amharic, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Spanish, and Vietnamese. During the webinar, FEMA officials explain the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program and answer questions about the application process.
To date, FEMA has approved $2.42 million for DC applications submitted to assist with COVID-19 related funeral costs for deaths occurring on or after Jan. 20, 2020. FEMA has a dedicated call center, open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST, to help individuals and families apply: 1-844-684-6333, TTY: 1-800-462-7585. There is currently no deadline to apply.
In early July 2021, FEMA modified death certificate documentation requirements to include:
- For deaths that occurred from Jan. 20 to May 16, 2020, any death certificate that does not attribute the cause of death to COVID-19 must be accompanied by a signed statement listing COVID-19 as a cause or contributing cause of death. The signed statement must be provided by the original certifier of the death certificate or the local medical examiner or coroner from the jurisdiction in which the death occurred. The statement must provide an additional explanation, or causal pathway, linking the cause of death listed on the death certificate to COVID-19.
- For deaths that occurred after May 16, 2020, the death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
Additionally, applicants will be asked to provide FEMA the following documentation:
- Proof of funeral expenses, including:
- Applicant’s name indicated as responsible party for the expenses;
- Total amount of funeral expenses;
- Decedent’s name; and
- Date funeral expenses were incurred.
- Proof of insurance or other funeral benefits: insurance proceeds, insurance denial, or documentation of other forms of assistance
- Note: Life insurance proceeds, death gratuities, or other forms of assistance not intended to defray funeral costs are not considered a duplication of benefits.
For more information on vital records and online death certificates, please visit the DC Health Vital Records Division at dchealth.dc.gov/vital-records. An online appointment can be made here or by calling (202) 442-9303 and selecting Option 1 and then Option 9. Death phone certificate orders can also be made online at https://www.vitalchek.com/fax-phone/dc_death_application.pdf or by calling 1-877-572-6332.
If you are eligible for funeral assistance you will receive a check by mail, or funds by direct deposit, depending on which option you chose when you applied for assistance. More information regarding COVID-19 funeral assistance can be found at fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.