FEMA offers funeral financial help

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By HEATHER WALTERS Those planning funerals for relatives who died as a result of a positive COVID-19 case can now receive financial help from federal authorities. Last week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) began processing applications for financial funeral assistance. The financial help is for those whose family members incurred funeral expenses related to COVID-19 after Jan. 20 of 2020. These federal funeral funds are a part of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. To apply for funeral assistance, Colleton residents should call the FEMA Funeral Assistance line at 844-684-6333 or 800-462-7585 on Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. According to Meagan Utsey, administrative services director for Colleton County, the following documentation is needed to support an application for COVID-19-related funeral expenses: An official death certificate that attributes the death to the COVID-19 virus; Funeral expense documents, including receipts, a funeral home contract, and the applicant’s name, the deceased person’s name, the amount of funeral expenses, and the dates the funeral expenses were incurred; Proof of funds taken from other sources used for the funeral costs. If someone is applying with FEMA for federal funeral assistance for COVID -19, but the death certificate does not reference COVID-19 virus as the reason for the death, South Carolina stipulations say an applicant can contact the medical certifier and have the death certificate revised, if applicable. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) maintains death records, but this state agency cannot change death certificates.

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