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FEMA providing help with funerals for COVID-19-related deaths

The staff of Stephens Funeral Home Inc., Allentown, wants Lehigh Valley residents to know families who have experienced the death of a loved one due to COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $9,000 in funeral assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Two pieces of legislation recently passed by Congress - the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 - authorized FEMA to provide financial assistance to families who incurred COVID-19-related funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020.

“This has been an extraordinarily difficult year as hundreds of thousands of families throughout the country have unexpectedly had to plan a funeral when a loved one died of COVID-19,” writes Stephens Funeral Home.

“Our hearts are with, not only the families we have served, but everyone in this community who is grieving the death of a loved one or friend due to the pandemic.”

Assistance is intended to help with expenses for funeral and memorial services, burial, interment or cremation. This phone number 1-844-684-6333 has been established to help individuals apply.

FEMA encourages families who may be eligible to start gathering the following:

•An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows the death occurred in the U.S. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms.

•Funeral expense documents: receipts, funeral home contract, etc., that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and dates the funeral expenses were incurred.

•Proof of funds received from other sources for use toward funeral costs. If families want to have a memorial service when it is safe, FEMA recommends waiting until after all services have been contracted to avoid amending an initial application.

FEMA’s website has information about eligibility requirements, documentation needed and how to start the application process.

Visit fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.