It’s a federal program that could help you with funeral costs if your loved one passed away from COVID-19.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) started taking applications in mid-April over the phone, but some callers say they are having a hard time getting through.
In an email to NBC 6 Responds, one viewer wrote, “I’ve been trying to call FEMA and it’s busy nonstop. I’m at 100 attempts already.”
According to FEMA, more than 147,000 people have applied to the program so far.
If you qualify, you can get up to $9,000 in reimbursements for certain funeral expenses related to the death of a loved one from COVID-19.
In a statement, FEMA told NBC 6 Responds, “As a result of the very high volume of calls, individuals could receive a busy signal. This is a technical issue that we continue to work to correct. We ask for patience and for callers to call back. Remember there is no deadline to apply to the program.”
They went on to say, “Due to the sensitive nature and complexity of these conversations, we are not accepting online applications. We will not rush through calls because we intend to make sure every applicant gets their questions answered and receives the help they need to apply. The initial application call should take about 20 minutes.”
"A million people a day were calling in the opening days and you could get the voice prompt but you were on the call for a long time and most people didn’t have the right information at hand," Ed Michael Reggie said.
Reggie is the CEO of the online funeral cost comparison website Funeralocity.com.
He said those trying to apply should make sure they have all of the needed paperwork when they call.
“You will only then need to provide the death certificate and the receipt for the funeral services. Then you are on the way to getting a direct deposit or a check,” Reggie said.
According to FEMA, applicants should be prepared to provide the social security number and date of birth of the deceased. They will also need to provide the location where the person passed away.
In addition, they need to provide an official death certificate showing COVID-19 as the cause of death, funeral expense documents, and proof of funds received from other sources.
“I think they will get the kinks out and everyone will get the proper reimbursement,” Reggie said.
FEMA recently sent out a fraud alert saying they have received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for the funeral reimbursement program.
The agency says they will not call anyone to register. This is a step you must do by calling their phone lines directly.