Dean Carpenter

As we collectively make our way back to restaurants, vacation hotels and sporting events, it’s safe to say the past 15-plus months have been a whirlwind that stopped our “normal” way of life right in its tracks.

There will undoubtedly be some stumbles along the way, and spikes in virus cases, but I’m hopeful that we can finally see the light at the end of this tunnel.

Unfortunately, according to Johns Hopkins University, more than 570,000 COVID-related deaths have been confirmed in the U.S. since the start of the pandemic, which officially began Jan. 20, 2020. The Federal government has given some financial relief in the form of three rounds of stimulus checks, but now they are offering some additional financial relief to those who have grieved the loss of a loved one as well.

Maybe I missed this being reported on the nightly news, but I first heard of this at the end of April, even though it was signed into policy on March 23.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that if you are a U.S. citizen, who paid for funeral expenses of someone after Jan. 20, 2020, that you could be eligible for assistance/reimbursement of up to $9,000 per funeral. The only way to apply for assistance is to call the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number at 844-684-6333.

According to the FEMA website, the application call should take about 20 minutes.

At that point, you will be given an application number, and then you are to submit death certificates, receipts for funeral expenses etc. either online, by fax or through the mail. The death certificate will likely need to indicate the death “may have been caused by” or “was likely a result of” COVID-19, or COVID-19-like symptoms to qualify for the assistance.

There is a fine line between being cynical about the government handing out money like it’s going out of style and being sympathetic to those who have grieved over the past 15 months, and this new policy is offering some financial relief during this emotional time.

I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my sympathy to those who have lost a loved one over the course of this pandemic, but hopefully the end is in sight. For more information on how to apply, you can visit https://www.fema.gov/disasters/coronavirus/economic/funeral-assistance.

Dean A. Carpenter is a financial adviser with Carpenter Financial Services in Johnstown.

Dean A. Carpenter is a financial adviser with Carpenter Financial Services in Johnstown.

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