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Feb. 11, 2021, 11:50 a.m. EST

Lost a loved one to COVID? You may be eligible for funeral-expense reimbursements

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By Elisabeth Buchwald

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told New Yorkers Monday that they could expect to receive up to $7,000 as reimbursement for funeral expenses for loved ones who have died from coronavirus last year.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up a $2 billion fund dedicated to provide financial assistance to individuals and households for COVID-19-related funeral expenses at a 100% federal cost. 

FEMA, through the $900-billion stimulus package that passed in late December, is only authorized to reimburse coronavirus-related funeral expenses that were incurred last year. 

Other states are also eligible for funeral-related FEMA funds.

FEMA did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment regarding whether Americans in other states could also expect to receive up to $7,000.

In 2019, the national median total cost of an adult burial funeral was $9,135 including the cost of a metal casket, according to 2019 data published by the National Funeral Directors Association, a trade group. While the national median cost of an adult cremation funeral with viewing was $5,150.

FEMA has yet to launch a platform where individuals can directly apply for funeral-expense reimbursement, a spokesperson told MarketWatch on Tuesday. The agency is currently hiring contract workers to help administer the program.

“We are working to streamline the delivery of this program to make it easier for people who lost loved ones to apply for and receive assistance,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “It’s taking some time to develop the right process and tools to make this program easy, efficient and effective for everyone.”

“While we can’t change the outcome of what has happened, we are honored and dedicated to helping ease some of the financial stress and burden that this terrible virus has created,” the spokesperson said.

As of Tuesday, more than 465,000 people in the U.S. had died from coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Globally, there have been more than 2.3 million deaths from coronavirus as of Tuesday. 

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