VA’s National Cemetery Scheduling Office and VA national cemeteries have received many calls from family members and funeral homes asking how they can apply for the Funeral Expense Reimbursement Program that covers funeral expenses when a loved one’s death was related to COVID-19.

This new program, which began on April 12, 2021, is run entirely by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). VA has no role in creating or tracking claims for this reimbursement program.

To learn more about the program and how to apply, visit this FEMA website: https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance/faq.

Before getting started

  • Gather the documents FEMA requires before you call FEMA to apply. Family members must provide documentation to establish a claim. You do NOT need any paperwork from VA.
  • The only way to apply is by calling FEMA’s toll-free number. There is no way to apply online.
  • Only the person who covered the funeral expenses can call FEMA’s toll-free number, not a third party like a funeral home director or cemetery representative.
  • FEMA only wants documents showing the costs you incurred. If your loved one was interred in a VA national cemetery, there was no cost to you for those things associated with the cemetery, such as the headstone or marker, the gravesite or columbarium niche, the grave liner, and assorted fees for opening and closing the grave, mounting the headstone, etc. All these items were part of the Veteran’s burial benefit with VA.
  • FEMA’s program can be used to reimburse a family for funeral-related expenses that VA doesn’t cover, such as the cost of the casket or urn, clergy fees and funeral home fees. FEMA’s website has more details.
  • The Veterans Benefits Administration also pays a burial allowance to the families in certain circumstances, whether or not the Veteran is interred in a VA cemetery. To learn more about this VA benefit and who qualifies, click here: https://www.va.gov/burials-memorials/veterans-burial-allowance/.

Please be patient with FEMA’s call center, as it is currently dealing with a very high volume of calls. If you get a busy signal, try again later. There is no deadline for submitting claims.

Finally, be prepared before calling FEMA’s toll-free number. FEMA’s website provides all of the details on what you need to do:  https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance/faq.


Les’ Melnyk is the chief of Public Affairs for VA’s National Cemetery Administration.

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10 Comments

  1. Sandra Kay Kennedy May 9, 2021 at 3:56 pm

    I tried faxing several times wouldnt go through so I mailed abd tracking number shows it was delivered April 27th at 2:27pm but fema still says they do not have it and I need to get this done asap as we had another death and no money

  2. Mary Johnston May 4, 2021 at 10:44 am

    How long does it take for Fema to send you a check for funeral expenses after submitting all documents

  3. Marie A Jean April 29, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    How to apply for my love one who died as a result covid19

  4. Debra Darby April 26, 2021 at 10:52 pm

    spoke with rep. name Bria on April 15, immediately fax the info that was to be sent. I have not had any update on the application. What do I need to do in order to find out ?

    • Crystal N April 27, 2021 at 2:39 pm

      Hi Debra, the lady should have told you to sign up at the disasterassistance.gov to keep track of you application. The rep I spoke with told me to do so and that it how I keep track of mine. You will need to click on the “check status” and it will prompt you to sign up to keep track of everything. I hope this helps

  5. Sgt. E. Dickey April 26, 2021 at 2:54 am

    I am A Vietnam veteran age 76 highly decorated veteran living outside America. Did you know It means nothing what we did for covid to receive Vaccine? The embassy staff and Military have no vaccine also. I qualify to be lay to rest in Arlington but not if I have covid!
    Americans are watched how we spend our money chased if we owe taxes but no Vaccine! I am ashamed of my govt. the country have no mention of a vaccine & my age makes livine very dangerous.
    If I want really to be lay at Arlington to do mysyself iin to be able to be buried at Arlington. that will never happen because I love life & family.
    Sgt. E. Dickey

  6. Darlene K Shouer April 23, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    I called the first day and spoke to a lady. She took allot of my information. She said to watch my email. What do I do with all the paid bills and Death certificate? Will the email give me further instructions? I have everything ready to mail.

    • Bertha Freeman April 27, 2021 at 2:49 pm

      You will need to go to http://www.disasterassistance.gov and create an account
      Check Status
      Create Account
      You will need a user name -password and Pin
      It would be a good idea to write these down so you won’t forget

      Once your account has been created you can download your information
      Follow the instructions for downloading your information.

  7. John D Pfister April 22, 2021 at 10:30 am

    So, anyone, not just Veterans, can get up to $27,000 for coverage of burial expenses if they died as the result of COVID-19, but Veterans who die of other causes get a measly, what…..$300? What a crock!

  8. Jim Grafton April 22, 2021 at 3:03 am

    How can I track the progress of my application ?

    I filed an application via phone on 4/13/21, and sent my documents via USPS certified mail.

    I have not received a signature back from the USPS, so I want to see if this has been received by FEMA.

    Also, for my confirmation, what is the PO Box in Hyattsville was this to be sent.

    Thank you in advance.

Comments are closed.

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