Program reimburses loved ones for funeral expenses related to COVID-19, averaging $5,000 in aid per New Mexico registrant
Santa Fe, NM – On Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released data showing that New Mexicans have now received roughly $5.3 million in assistance through FEMA’s Funeral Assistance program for COVID-19 related deaths. Authorized and funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, this program is designed to help ease some of the financial burdens caused by the pandemic, covering expenses for funeral services, cremations, headstones, ceremonies, and other funeral costs related to COVID-19. FEMA began processing applications for funeral assistance on April 12, 2021, and they have since distributed more than $1.2 billion in aid nationwide.
“This is a truly heartbreaking situation, because each and every person who is receiving this aid has been deeply impacted by COVID-19,” said DHSEM Secretary Bianca Ortiz-Wertheim. “The state and the federal government know that these funds can never heal the trauma caused by this pandemic, but we hope this program can provide some relief to the people who need it the most. If there is any chance you could be eligible for this program, I encourage you to call 844-684-6333. And please share this information within your community to help support our fellow New Mexicans.”
FEMA has approved slightly more than 1,000 applications from New Mexico so far, averaging $5,000 in aid per registrant. Additionally, FEMA is actively reviewing an additional 700 applications from New Mexico, but these 1,700 registrations represent just 34% of the New Mexicans who may be eligible for assistance. Moreover, this low registration rate is largely consistent across the state, including several of New Mexico’s most populous counties, such as Bernalillo (34%), Doña Ana (39%), Santa Fe (36%), Sandoval (30%), and San Juan (29%).
Notably, the application system is specifically designed so that applicants speak with trained FEMA representatives, rather than navigating online forms. This means that representatives are available to help answer questions, check eligibility requirements, and submit documents.
Who is Eligible?
- 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 January 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.
- Assistance is available to US citizens, non-citizen nationals, and qualified aliens.
How to Apply?
- Call the dedicated toll-free phone number below to get a COVID-19 Funeral Assistance application completed with help from FEMA representatives. Multilingual services will be available. No online applications will be accepted.
- 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585 (open Monday to Friday from 9am to 9pm ET).
- FEMA has also produced a video that provides program details and application instructions: ASL #FEMA: Providing Financial Assistance for COVID-19 Related Funeral Expenses – YouTube.
- Funeral Assistance information by language: 中文 | Español | Kreyòl Ayisyen | 한국어 | Tiếng Việt |Français | عربي | हिन्दी | Português | Pусский | Tagalog | Bengali
Additional information and FAQs can be found at COVID-19 Funeral Assistance | FEMA.gov.
- Can I apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance even though I’ve already applied for a recent disaster event? –> Yes.
- Are pre-planned and pre-paid funerals eligible for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance if the individual died from COVID-19? –> No.
- Can I apply for assistance with funeral expenses for a death that occurred outside the United States? –> No.
- Is life insurance considered a duplication of benefit? What if I used life insurance to pay for funeral expenses? –> FEMA does not consider life insurance proceeds, death gratuities, or other forms of assistance not specifically intended to defray funeral costs as a duplication of benefit.
DHSEM works to protect the people of New Mexico and the nation through a comprehensive and coordinated program of mitigating hazards, preparing for emergencies, preventing attacks, and recovering from disasters. The New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office is part of DHSEM beginning on July 1, 2021.