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FEMA paid $1B to help cover COVID-related funeral expenses

FEMA’s Deputy Director of Individual Assistance Matthew Redding says the US government has no projected end date for the funeral assistance.

WASHINGTON — Matthew Redding, FEMA’s Deputy Director of Individual Assistance, says the agency has paid more than $1 billion to 150,000 people who have applied for help covering coronavirus funeral expenses.

The government provides a maximum of $9,000 per deceased individual and up to $35,000 per application for U.S. citizens who can provide proof their family member died of COVID-19 and had qualified expenses not covered by some other source.

Redding says the U.S. government has no projected end date for the funeral assistance. “FEMA has sufficient resources to continue this mission as the nation continues to grapple with so much loss,” he said.

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In some cases, there’s been assistance for multiple family members since the program launched nearly three months ago. FEMA has provided funeral assistance in the past but never on this scale.

More than 619,000 people have died in the U.S. from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.

To learn more or to apply for funeral assistance, click here. FEMA's website states that people who have had COVID-19 funeral expenses are encouraged to keep and gather related documentation.

FEMA warns Americans of scams related to the assistance program. The agency said it will not contact someone unless they have already called FEMA and applied for the assistance. It urges people to not disclose information such as the name, birth date, or Social Security Number of any deceased individual during an unsolicited telephone call or e-mail from anyone.

FEMA said its phone calls may come from an unidentified number. However, if there is any doubt about the call's legitimacy, hang up and report it to the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline at 844-684-6333 or the National Center for Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

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