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The Biden government has made it easier for many families to qualify for funeral allowance after easing rules for a Covid-era program.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the program, has changed its funeral assistance policy regarding deaths in the first few months of the pandemic.
Funeral aid applicants – up to $ 9,000 per deceased and $ 35,500 per application – were first required to provide a death certificate listing Covid-19 as the cause of death.
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But at the outset, death certificates may not have mentioned the virus. Tests weren’t as widespread and the coronavirus, for example, wasn’t as well understood by the medical community. Many families may have been refused entry as a result.
FEMA Optimization offers a refund when applicants submit a death certificate statement or letter from the certifying officer, coroner or coroner who, according to the agency, attributes the death to Covid-19.
The change applies to deaths between January 20 and May 16 last year.
The new policy, according to FEMA, offers the flexibility to attribute a death to Covid without changing the death certificate. It also covers the period before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published guidelines on death certificates in the spring of 2020, the agency said.
Individuals must still present a death certificate linking the death to Covid-19 if after age 16.
Program funds can reimburse costs related to funeral services, cremation, a coffin or urn, burial site, marker or tombstone, and transportation of up to two people, for example to identify the deceased.
The program has total funding of $ 2 billion and was opened to applicants in April.
Since then, more than 78,000 applicants have received $ 525 million in assistance, according to FEMA. More than 605,000 people have died of Covid-19, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Scammers targeted the program early on when there was a high volume of applicants. Criminals posed as government officials who offered to register those seeking help but instead tried to steal money or sensitive personal information, according to the Federal Trade Commission.