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Why Aren’t More New Mexicans Claiming COVID-19 Funeral Expenses?
Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death, Funeral Expert Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death, Funeral Expert
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Albuquerque, NM
Monday, November 22, 2021


COVID-19 virus for FEMA funeral expenses

Funeral Expenses Covered for COVID-19 Deaths

Would you take advantage of free funeral expenses? According to the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, just 35% of eligible New Mexicans have registered for FEMA’s COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program. This program reimburses residents for up to $9,000 in funeral costs related to deaths due to COVID-19.

Authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act, the program is designed to ease some of the financial burden caused by the pandemic, reimbursing residents for funeral services, cremations, headstones, ceremonies, and other funeral costs related to COVID-19.

The program has operated since April of 2021. Between then and now (late November 2021), FEMA has distributed more than $5.5 million in aid in New Mexico alone. Nearly 1,100 state residents have taken advantage of the program, averaging roughly $5,000 in aid per registrant. There is no deadline to apply, and you can be reimbursed for money already spent on funerals or memorial services.

But the percentage of New Mexicans who have registered stays stuck at 35% of state COVID deaths. It’s consistent across New Mexico’s largest counties: Bernalillo (35%), Dona Ana (39%), Santa Fe (37%), Sandoval (31%), and San Juan (29%).

Ironically, if you have been proactive in your funeral preparations, you can’t take advantage of the program. Pre-paid funerals for people who die of COVID-19 are not reimbursable.

With the current surge in COVID infections and hospitalizations, a rise in deaths is sure to follow. If one of your loved ones dies due to COVID, take advantage of this funding for covering funeral expenses. It is there to help your family cope during an overwhelmingly stressful time.

Who is Eligible for Reimbursement of Funeral Expenses?

  • For deaths that occurred after May 16, 2020, the death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.
  • For deaths that occurred from January 20 to May 16, 2020, any death certificate that does not attribute the cause of death to COVID-19 must be accompanied by a signed statement listing COVID-19 as a cause or contributing cause of death.
  • The signed statement must be provided by the original certifier of the death certificate or the local medical examiner or coroner from the jurisdiction in which the death occurred.
  • The statement must provide an additional explanation, or causal pathway, linking the cause of death listed on the death certificate to COVID-19.
  • Assistance is available to US citizens, non-citizen nationals, and qualified aliens.

How do Families Apply?

Additional Resources

  • Frequently Asked Questions are available here, including:
  • Can I apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance even though I’ve already applied for a recent disaster event? –> Yes.
  • Are pre-planned and pre-paid funerals eligible for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance if the individual died from COVID-19? –> No.
  • Can I apply for assistance with funeral expenses for a death that occurred outside the United States? –> No.
  • Is life insurance considered a duplication of benefit? What if I used life insurance to pay for funeral expenses? –> FEMA does not consider life insurance proceeds, death gratuities (a program for survivors of members of the Armed Forces), or other forms of assistance not specifically intended to defray funeral costs as a duplication of benefit.

The original announcement of news about this FEMA program was posted March 31, 2021 here on The Family Plot Blog.

Gail Rubin, CT, is author and host of the award-winning book and television series, A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die, Hail and Farewell: Cremation Ceremonies, Templates and Tips, and KICKING THE BUCKET LIST: 100 Downsizing and Organizing Things to Do Before You Die.

Rubin is a Certified Thanatologist (that's a death educator) and a popular speaker who uses humor and films to get the end-of-life and funeral planning conversation started. She "knocked 'em dead" with her TEDx talk, A Good Goodbye. She provides continuing education credit classes for attorneys, doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice workers, financial planners, funeral directors and other professionals. She's a Certified Funeral Celebrant and funeral planning consultant who has been interviewed in national and local print, broadcast and online media.

Known as The Doyenne of Death®, she is the event coordinator of the Before I Die NM Festival. She also hosts A Good Goodbye Internet radio show and produces Mortality Minute radio and online video spots. Her YouTube Channel features more than 450 videos!

Rubin is a member of the Association for Death Education and Counseling, the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association, Toastmasters International and the National Speakers Association New Mexico Chapter. Her speaking profile is available at eSpeakers.com.

Gail Rubin has been interviewed about funeral planning issues in national and local broadcast, print and online media. Outlets include The Huffington Post, Money Magazine, Kiplinger, CBS Radio News, WGN-TV,  and local affiliates for NPR, PBS, FOX, ABC-TV, CBS-TV and NBC-TV. Albuquerque Business First named her as one of their 2019 Women of Influence.

Sign up for a free planning form and occasional informative newsletter at her website, AGoodGoodbye.com.

News Media Interview Contact
Name: Gail Rubin
Group: A Good Goodbye
Dateline: Albuquerque, NM United States
Direct Phone: 505-265-7215
Cell Phone: 505-363-7514
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