FEMA is starting to offer relief to those who have lost family members due to COVID-19

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — If you’ve had a family member die in the last year due to COVID-19, you may qualify for some financial help.

Under the latest COVID relief act, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses.

FEMA is still in the beginning stages of providing this relief.

They will begin accepting applications for the program in April but they first need to create the application process.

Senior Funeral Director for Rose Funeral and Cremation Mann, Adam Starkey, said in regards to FEMA relief, “Not much information has been sent out to us directly. In fact, we just heard about it from a family that was seeking assistance.”

Last year, Rose Funeral and Cremation saw an uptick in business due to COVID-19.

“At this location (Kingston Pike) we did 342 families exactly and out of those families 342,” said Starkey. “We had 24 that were listed with Covid as a cause of passing. This year we’ve done approximately 81 families at this location, and out of those, 12 have been listed as Covid as a contributing factor.”

Starkey said since more people have access to the vaccine, their seeing fewer Covid deaths, but those who have lost a family member due to the Pandemic can now receive extra assistance, “FEMA’s hope is to have a phone number hotline in which families could easily call and start the claim process on that, but they don’t have that set up yet.”

In the meantime, those who have COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather documentation.

“Don’t be afraid to reach out to the funeral home and lean on them for their support,” explained Starkey. “Those documents, all the documents that the FEMA website says you’re going to need are all available through your funeral provider, cremation provider.”

Some of the documentation you need will be an official death certificate that attributes the death directly or indirectly to Covid-19 and funeral expenses documents.

FEMA is still trying to finalize the program and create an application process.

However, if you are eligible for funeral assistance you will receive a check by mail or funds by direct deposit. You can check your eligibility here.

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