How to Get a Certified Death Certificate To Apply for FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

FEMA will give financial help for COVID-19-related funeral expenses that took place after January 20, 2020. This is provided under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

FEMA can accept applications by phone for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance to the estates and/or survivors of those lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. The maximum amount of assistance is $9,000.

How to Apply

The FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance information can be found here: COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Phone Number

Call: 844-684-6333
TTY: 800-462-7585

Hours of Operation:

Monday - Friday - 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time

To apply, you need the following:

  • An official death certificate that shows the death was directly or indirectly caused by COVID-19. It should also show that the death occurred in the United States or its territories. This includes the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands.
    • If you need help getting a certified death certificate that meets the criteria for the FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance reimbursement program, call the NYS Bureau of Vital Records at 855-322-1022.
  • Funeral expenses documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant's name, the deceased person's name, itemized funeral expenses, and the dates when those funeral expenses were charged.
  • Proof of all prior payments of funeral costs. FEMA cannot pay for funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. FEMA will not give financial help if the funeral costs have already been paid by others. Examples of this include burial or funeral insurance and financial assistance received from private relief agencies, government agencies, or other sources.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible for funeral assistance, the following must be true:

  • The death must have occurred in the United States. This includes the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
  • The death certificate must state that the death was caused by COVID-19.
    NOTE: FEMA changed their policy to let applicants submit a signed statement or letter from the original medical certifier (i.e., the person who signed medical portion of the death certificate, such as a doctor, medical examiner or coroner), for deaths that occurred between January 20 and May 16, 2020. The letter or statement must attribute the death to COVID-19. Local and State Registrars, the entities that issue death certificates to survivors, are not legally qualified to submit a letter to comply with this Advisory Policy.
  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.
    NOTE: There is no requirement that the deceased person was a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien.

How to Get an Official Death Certificate with a Cause of Death

NOTE: To get a death certificate for a death that occurred in the New York City area [the boroughs of Manhattan, Kings (Brooklyn), Queens, Bronx, and Richmond (Staten Island)], please contact the NYC Department of Health Vital Records: NYC Death Certificates

Applicants from the rest of New York State can request a copy of a death certificate from the local Registrar of Vital Statistics where the death took place. Or, you may order a copy at any time from the DOH BVR here: Death Certificates.

When ordering a death certificate, applicants from New York State must:

  • Be a spouse, child, parent of the deceased, or the lawful representative of the estate; or
  • Have a court order demanding a copy of the death certificate containing the information regarding cause of death; or
  • Provide documentation of a legal right or claim (e.g., proof of funeral expenses incurred or paid as described by the FEMA Funeral Assistance program).

When you apply for the death certificate, you must ask that it include the Cause of Death (COD) section. Be sure to tell the official you speak to that the death certificate is for FEMA COVID-19 Assistance.

How to Correct a Death Certificate

Any corrections to the medical portion of a death certificate must be started by the Medical Certifier who completed the original death certificate. They must provide the cause of death based on available medical records. The Medical Certifier is named on the death certificate.

To reach the Medical Certifier, you can contact the facility (hospital, nursing home, assisted living facility, or hospice) where the death occurred, or a funeral director if they filed the death certificate with state or local vital records authorities.

Note: The New York State Department of Health does not have the authority to alter information on a death certificate without a request from the Medical Certifier. The Department also cannot require a Medical certifier to correct a death certificate.