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Many Coloradans still waiting for COVID-19 funeral aid from federal government

According to FEMA, more than 1,400 Coloradans have called to begin the process. 80 have received money as of Tuesday.

DENVER — On April 12, FEMA opened applications to reimburse people for COVID-19 funeral expenses. The person must have paid for funeral expenses after January 20, 2020 and the funeral expenses have to be for a person whose death may have been caused by or was likely the result of COVID-19. 

In the seven weeks since the agency began accepting COVID-19 funeral assistance applications, FEMA has disbursed more than $128 million to nearly 19,000 applicants. 

According to FEMA, more than 1,400 Coloradans have called the agency to begin the assistance process. 80 applicants in Colorado have received money as of Tuesday. That is just over 5% of people who have called FEMA. 

"Case review takes time," said a FEMA spokesperson. "It is a manual process between a FEMA representative and the applicant. However, once the applicant submits all of the required documentation, the agency is usually able to determine eligibility in less than 25 days. If the applicant has chosen direct deposit, the payment is sent within days."

RELATED: FEMA now accepting applications to cover funeral expenses for COVID victims. Apply here

COVID-19 took the lives of more than 6,700 people in Colorado, which brought thousands of families to funeral homes across the state. 

Kendra Briggs, CEO and President of Fairmount Cemetery Company in Denver, has helped more than 50 families who have lost someone to COVID-19. 

"One woman lost her husband and so then there is all of a sudden one social security check," said Briggs. "She had to scramble for the expenses for a simple, non-ceremonial cremation."

Now people like her can get help with those expenses through FEMA's program.

In order to apply, a person must call 844-684-6333. The COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time. No online applications will be accepted. 

Once a person has applied and is given an application number, that person may provide supporting documentation to FEMA a few ways:

  • Upload to your DisasterAssistance.gov account
  • Fax documents: 855-261-3452.
  • Mail documents: P.O. BOX 10001, Hyattsville, MD 20782

FEMA will distribute a maximum of $9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $35,500 per application. 

"It was a huge relief for her," said Briggs. "She felt like [her husband] was watching over her."

Fairmount Cemetery Company has sent out letters to all of the families who they knew were impacted by COVID-19. 

"If they want a service now because they didn’t last year, then let’s have that service and then you can apply for the relief then," she said.

At this time, there is no deadline to apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. 

RELATED: New Colorado public health order removes capacity limits on indoor events

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