No more COVID funeral reimbursement funds available for Chicago families, but scammers are watching – .

No more COVID funeral reimbursement funds available for Chicago families, but scammers are watching – .

CHICAGO (WLS) – The federal government is providing much-needed help to families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19. Families can receive up to $ 9,000 in reimbursement for funeral expenses, but navigating the process can be tricky.
The money is offered through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, through the American Rescue Act. However, there may be difficulty accessing entertainment. The challenges are first the wait time and the call to FEMA. There are a lot of calls and FEMAL has a limited staff so it takes a while to reach them, ”said Bob Smith, Illinois Funeral Director Association president and owner. from Smith Corcoran Funeral Home on the northwest side. “The second part is, the second problem is collecting all the documents FEMA wants. Fairly simple: funeral invoice, payment receipt for death certificate. But not everyone has this available. “

There are at least 20 things on the checklist for getting the money, the I-Team has found, and it can be difficult for some people.

“Most of this stuff is pretty, pretty straightforward and straightforward, but there is a line of documentation that needs to be sent to FEMA and you need to send it. They prefer everything by email, ”Smith said.

The funeral home can help.

” We are here to help. And whatever we can do to make it easier for people is what we will do, ”Smith said.

If you are asking for the money, you must also be the person who paid for the funeral. The FEMA website says you must provide a death certificate stating the death was related to COVID-19, but not all death certificates can state the cause. FEMA said if that was the case, you should have the certificate changed.

“We encourage people who are in this situation to work with their attending physician, to work with the local coroner in their area to change the death certificate,” said Dan Shulman, spokesperson for FEMA Region 5. “And they can be modified with appropriate information. This may require securing the medical record of a hospital or other facility where the person died. He said there is also a waiting period for funds.

“Depending on the complexity of the information they are submitting, it may take three to five weeks for us to process the creation of that request. And then, once someone is approved, if they have opted for direct deposit for assistance, it will take between 24 and 48 hours for them to receive the funds, ”Shulman said.

Ed Michael Reggie, CEO of the Funeralcity website, which provides rates for funeral and cremation service providers nationwide, joined FEMA in saying that scammers are preying on those who are eligible for the funeral financing, trying to get social security numbers.

“Every funeral home in America basically puts their obituaries on their website as a courtesy to the people they serve,” Reggie said. “Any crook could go through these websites and get the information that, you know, Mr. Smith died that day, he could call the funeral home and maybe convince them to get a receipt. But also, he could take that information and contact families, then start getting social security numbers and other information. “

If you’ve ever asked for money, be aware that FEMA may call you and that call may be from an unidentified number.

“FEMA can call you to request additional information,” Shulman said. “If we do and you’re not sure the caller is FEMA

If you get help from your funeral home with the application process, be sure to contact them.

Smith said most of his clients apply, but not everyone wants to relive their loss.

“People go through grief. And that’s not what they normally want to think about. And that brings them back grief, loss. So some people will apply because they don’t want to deal with it at this point in their life, ”he said.

FEMA said it has already provided more than $ 278 million to 41,000 people. In Illinois, over $ 13.5 million is sent to people who have been approved.

Click here to request reimbursement of COVID funeral expenses from FEMA.

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