Why Aren’t More New Mexicans Claiming COVID-19 Funeral Expenses?

Nov 22, 2021 | 0 comments

COVID-19 virus for FEMA funeral expenses

Funeral Expenses Covered for COVID-19 Deaths

Would you take advantage of free funeral expenses? According to the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, just 35% of eligible New Mexicans have registered for FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program. This program reimburses residents for up to $9,000 in funeral costs related to deaths due to COVID-19.

Authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act, the program is designed to ease some of the financial burden caused by the pandemic, reimbursing residents for funeral services, cremations, headstones, ceremonies, and other funeral costs related to COVID-19.

The program has operated since April of 2021. Between then and now (late November 2021), FEMA has distributed more than $5.5 million in aid in New Mexico alone. Nearly 1,100 state residents have taken advantage of the program, averaging roughly $5,000 in aid per registrant. There is no deadline to apply, and you can be reimbursed for money already spent on funerals or memorial services.

But the percentage of New Mexicans who have registered stays stuck at 35% of state COVID deaths. It’s consistent across New Mexico’s largest counties: Bernalillo (35%), Dona Ana (39%), Santa Fe (37%), Sandoval (31%), and San Juan (29%).

Ironically, if you have been proactive in your funeral preparations, you can’t take advantage of the program. Pre-paid funerals for people who die of COVID-19 are not reimbursable.

With the current surge in COVID infections and hospitalizations, a rise in deaths is sure to follow. If one of your loved ones dies due to COVID, take advantage of this funding for covering funeral expenses. It is there to help your family cope during an overwhelmingly stressful time.

Who is Eligible for Reimbursement of Funeral Expenses?

  • 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.
  • The signed statement must be provided by the original certifier of the death certificate or the local medical examiner or coroner from the jurisdiction in which the death occurred.
  • The statement must provide an additional explanation, or causal pathway, linking the cause of death listed on the death certificate to COVID-19.
  • Assistance is available to US citizens, non-citizen nationals, and qualified aliens.

How do Families Apply?

Additional Resources

  • Frequently Asked Questions are available here, including:
  • 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 (a program for survivors of members of the Armed Forces), or other forms of assistance not specifically intended to defray funeral costs as a duplication of benefit.

The original announcement of news about this FEMA program was posted March 31, 2021 here on The Family Plot Blog.

A Good Goodbye