By Al Tompkins
The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it will reimburse the families of COVID-19 victims for funeral expenses incurred after Jan. 20, 2020. That could be more than a half million funerals.
FEMA has a $2 billion budget for this program. The agency estimates individual families can expect reimbursements of between $3,000 to $7,000.
Politico reports that this whole program is likely to become messy because many deaths may have been mislabeled and death records are not kept in a central location.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which collect mortality data on the pandemic, has advised FEMA that — for logistical and regulatory reasons — CDC cannot verify whether individual deaths are COVID-related. Instead, the disaster agency will need to lean on overburdened state health agencies and medical institutions to cross-reference federal data with death certificates.
Families will have to prove they are next of kin. They will need death certificates saying COVID-19 was the cause of death. They cannot have already made a funeral expenses claim through another agency.