by Jon Styf
Tennessee residents have received $81.9 million in funeral expense assistance through COVID-19 funeral reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Just short of half of those payments were made this year. As of January, FEMA had sent Tennessee $47 million in assistance.
Statewide, 14,895 Tennesseans applied for the assistance and 12,178 – about 82 percent – received the reimbursement.
The payments are part of a program funded by the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 that reimburse or pay for funerals related to deaths related to COVID-19 since Jan. 20, 2020.
The reimbursement is limited to $9,000 per person. Since the program began, nationally it has sent $2.7 billion to over 420,000 individuals and families.
The applications must include a death certificate attributing the death to COVID-19 or named COVID-19 as a contributing factor. If the death occurred before May 16, 2020, a statement from the certifying official on the death certificate, medical examiner or coroner is sufficient proof.
The assistance can be approved before the funeral with a signed funeral home contract, invoice or similar legal documentation. It also can be processed as a reimbursement afterward.
Proof of any funeral insurance or other coverage must be included in the application. The reimbursement will not cover any expenses covered by another entity.
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Jon Styf is an award-winning editor and reporter with The Center Square. Styf has worked in Illinois, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and Michigan in local newsrooms over the past 20 years, working for Shaw Media, Hearst and several other companies.
Photo “Funeral” by Pavel Danilyuk.