TDCI Highlights Federal Assistance for COVID-19 Related Funeral Reimbursements

FEMA Will Provide Maximum Assistance of $9,000 Per Funeral

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) and the Tennessee Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers are raising awareness among consumers and Tennessee funeral professionals that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued its final policy on providing financial assistance related to COVID-19 related funeral expenses. The federal agency said the financial assistance it will provide will be a maximum of $9,000 per funeral.

Under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, Congress authorized FEMA to provide financial assistance to individuals who incurred COVID-19 related funeral expenses after January 20, 2020. FEMA has issued its final policy — which includes details such as eligibility and documentation criteria and the application process — for how funds will be distributed to families. Additional information can be found here.

“The Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers extends its heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of any Tennessean who may have lost a loved one to COVID-19,” said Board Executive Director Robert Gribble. “I urge affected consumers to learn more about this federal financial assistance program in order to help cover burial expenses that may have been incurred.”

As part of its policy, FEMA will only award COVID-19 Funeral Assistance for a deceased individual on a single application. If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should register under a single application as applicant and co-applicant. The applicant or co-applicant must have incurred the funeral expenses. The deceased individual’s documentation status is not considered as part of the reimbursement process, but the applicant(s) must be U.S. citizens, legal residents, asylees, refugees or non-citizen nationals.

Families should decide who the applicant and any co-applicants will be and to gather the documents they need to be reimbursed for expenses. The applicant must provide the following documents:

  • A copy of the death certificate. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely a result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are also considered sufficient.
  • Proof of funeral expenses incurred. Documentation (receipts, funeral home contract, etcetera) must include the applicant’s name as the responsible person for the expense, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and that funeral expenses were incurred after January 20, 2020.

Eligible funeral expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Transportation for up to two individuals to identify the deceased individual
  • Transfer of remains
  • Casket or urn
  • Burial plot or cremation niche
  • Marker or headstone
  • Clergy or officiant services
  • Arrangement of the funeral ceremony
  • Use of funeral home equipment or staff
  • Cremation or interment costs
  • Costs associated with producing and certifying multiple death certificates
  • Additional expenses mandated by any applicable local or state government laws or ordinances.

If applicants have already received reimbursement for certain funeral expenses through government agencies, voluntary agencies, nonprofits, burial or funeral insurance then they cannot resubmit those same expenses for reimbursement through this FEMA-administered program. If they received any outside assistance, they must include documentation of this assistance in their application. If they received financial assistance through the deceased’s life insurance policy, they may still apply for reimbursement.

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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