Battle Creek and Kalamazoo residents are now able to apply for federal funeral assistance. It’s available for individuals or families who have lost relatives to COVID-19. The program is available for all US residents.

The U.S. Emergency Management Agency is administering the program. It has about $2 billion available to provide survivors of COVID-19 victims financial help to cover funeral and related expenses.  The funding was allocated as part of the recent virus support legislation. That’s better known as the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Act of 2021.

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The program covers the time frame of January through the end of December 2020.
The government says the financial help is capped at a maximum of $9,000 per funeral. But that is extended to as much as $35,000 per application based on geographical location.  FEMA is not accepting online applications.  The process must be done directly with a FEMA employee by phone. The direct line to the FEMA funeral assistance program is 844-684-6333. ( TTY - 800-462-7585)

The FEMA website indicates funeral service expenses and cremation or interment are typically covered but the program is not limited to that.  Here is a general list of the types of expenses that may be covered:

-Use of funeral home equipment or staff

-Clergy or officiant services

-Cremation or interment costs

-Burial plot or cremation niche

-Transportation for up to two individuals to identify the deceased individual

-Transfer of remains

-Casket or urn

-Marker or headstone

-Arrangement of the funeral ceremony

-Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates

-Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances

FEMA is already receiving reports of scammers trying to get people to sign up over the phone in order to get their personal information to be able to pull off ID theft. FEMA stresses its caseworkers do not initiate calls to people about potential expense coverage. The coverage payment can be direct deposited or sent by check through the US Postal Service.

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.