This week, more than 90,000 people began the application process to receive funeral assistance for deaths caused by COVID-19.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides funeral assistance as a normal part of the disaster process through our Individual Assistance program. However, the agency has never delivered this assistance on this scale before, and it expects a high volume of calls to continue.
FEMA recognizes the frustration this brings to people who have already dealt with so much, and the agency is working to ensure every person who needs to file an application can do so as easily as possible.
Using a call center guarantees that applicants already experiencing loss and grief can speak to people who are specifically trained to walk them through the application process. They can also help minimize delays by ensuring that callers thoroughly understand the process and any additional steps needed to complete the application.
To help speed the process, FEMA has 5,000 phone agents available and is training additional staff to support the large call volume. Multilingual services are available on the helpline.
The funeral assistance call center is now open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. EDT, Monday through Friday. Applicants can call 844-684-6333 or TTY: 800-462-7585 toll-free and speak directly to a trained representative who will guide them through the application process.
Anyone who may apply for the assistance should remember the following items:
There is no deadline to apply for this assistance. Funding is not going to run out – and people who need this assistance will have every opportunity to apply.
If someone is trying to apply and receives a busy signal or automated message, please try calling again at another time. FEMA appreciates the public’s patience as it continues helping people across the country who have lost loved ones. Once a caller has a representative on the line, the application process will take approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Monetary assistance will be delivered about a week later.
Before applying, gather the documentation needed to help speed up the process. The exact documentation needed can be found on www.FEMA.gov but will include receipts, official death certificates and funeral contracts.
To provide additional assistance to individuals who may need to apply for this assistance, a listing of frequently asked questions is available and is being updated on www.FEMA.gov.