Families dealing with the loss of a loved one due to coronavirus-related illnesses are eligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s funeral assistance program.

The program pays families up to $9,000 in funeral costs.

Roanoke’s WDBJ-TV reported the following details of the program:

• For deaths that occurred after May 16, 2020, the death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
• 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.
• FEMA amended the program in June, allowing applicants to submit a signed statement from the certifying official on the death certificate or the local medical examiner, or coroner, that attributes the death to COVID-19 deaths from between Jan. 20 and May 16, 2020.
• Currently, there is no deadline to apply for assistance.
• If you’d like to learn more and apply for assistance, call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 844-684-6333 or text 800-462-7585
• Hours of Operation are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST.

Sammy Oakey, president of Oakey’s Funeral Service & Crematory in Roanoke, said people should know of the program’s existence.

“It’s also going to make it easier for the funeral director to talk to families about cost knowing there’s going to at least be $9,000 coming to that family,” Oakey said, WDBJ reported. “Money is not everything and of course it’s not going to make a family’s suffering go away, but it can ease up a tough time and make it a bit easier for a family and make it a bit more bearable for them.”

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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