Pro Bono Net, in partnership with Alston & Bird, announced today that a new resource is available for individuals applying to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program.
The online resource includes general information about the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program and Frequently Asked Questions about how to appeal FEMA’s determination if an applicant has been denied financial assistance or awarded an amount that’s not enough to cover funeral expenses.
Earlier this year, FEMA created the program to help individuals pay funeral costs for COVID-19-related deaths. Then Acting FEMA Administrator Bob Fenton said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense grief for so many people. Although we cannot change what has happened, we affirm our commitment to help with funeral and burial expenses that many families did not anticipate.” A few weeks after its announcement, the federal agency began accepting applications by phone. FEMA reported that its call center had received over one million calls the first day it opened.
“It has been an incredibly meaningful endeavor for the firm to help ease the burden of seeking tangible aid for these families,” said Cheryl Naja, Director of Pro Bono & Community Service at Alston & Bird. “We know it doesn’t alleviate the pain of losing a loved one, but hope this work will provide relief from the overwhelming experience of managing agency applications and appeals.”
“Over half a million individuals in the U.S. have lost their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz, Pro Bono & Strategic Initiatives Manager at Pro Bono Net. “Families and loved ones who have incurred in funeral expenses have a right to understand FEMA’s decision on assistance and also a right to appeal the agency’s determination. We are proud to partner with Alston & Bird to develop this timely resource for individuals and families affected by the pandemic.” FEMA’s latest breakdown on the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program shows that over 300,000 individuals across the United States have already applied to the program. The agency also reported that it has provided over $1.2 billion to over 196,000 people.
The Frequently Asked Questions, which cover the appeals process and FEMA’s interim policy updates to help applicants understand their rights, are available at:
- DisasterLegalAid.org www.disasterlegalaid.org/covid-funeral-help and
- LawHelp.org https://www.lawhelp.org/resource/covid-19-funeral-assistance-program
Pro Bono Net extends our appreciation to Miriam Archibong, Jessica García Keenum, and Cheryl Naja at Alston & Bird for their time and contributions to this resource.
To learn more about Pro Bono Net’s disaster response efforts, visit https://www.probono.net/our-work/initiatives/disaster/ or contact Pro Bono Net’s Pro Bono & Strategic Initiatives Manager, Jeanne Ortiz-Ortiz at firstname.lastname@example.org.