By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Wyoming residents who have lost a loved one in the last year to the coronavirus can apply for federal reimbursement of funeral expenses.
The Wyoming Department of Health announced the program this week, which will ease some of the financial stresses and burdens caused by the pandemic.
A dedicated toll-free phone number to call is 844-684-6333. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) representatives are available to assist callers from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The helpline has received thousands of calls, which is causing some callers to receive a busy signal. Having the required documents ready when calling can ease some of the congestion.
To be eligible for COVID-19 funeral assistance:
- The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after Jan. 20, 2020 for a death related to COVID-19.
- If multiple individuals contributed toward funeral expenses, they should apply under a single application as applicant and co- applicant. FEMA will also consider documentation from other individuals not listed as the applicant and co-applicant who may have incurred funeral expenses as part of the registration for the deceased individual.
- An applicant may apply for multiple deceased individuals.
- The COVID-19-related death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.
- This assistance is limited to a maximum financial amount of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per applicant.
- Funeral assistance is intended to help with expenses for funeral services and interment or cremation.
The below documentation is needed to submit the application:
- An official death certificate that attributes the death to COVID-19 and shows that the death occurred in the United States. The death certificate must indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19-like symptoms. Similar phrases that indicate a high likelihood of COVID-19 are considered sufficient attribution.
- Funeral expense documents (receipts, funeral home contract, etc.) that include the applicant’s name, the deceased individual’s name, the amount of funeral expenses and dates the funeral expenses were incurred.
- Proof of funds received from other sources specifically for use toward funeral costs. Funeral assistance may not duplicate benefits received from burial or funeral insurance, financial assistance received from voluntary agencies, federal/state/local/tribal/territorial government programs or agencies, or other sources.
Individuals who feel they need crisis counseling are encouraged to call Wyoming 2-1-1, which provides free, confidential, health and human services information and referrals.
Wyoming has seen more than 700 coronavirus-related deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.