Schumer and AOC urge New Yorkers who lost loved ones to COVID-19 to seek funeral funding help

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Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez hold up the phone number for FEMA burial relief.
Photo by Dean Moses

The phone lines are now open as FEMA begins accepting applications for COVID-19 funeral and cemetery cost claims, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Queens/Bronx Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced Monday. 

During a press conference just outside of the 7 train station on 103rd Street Corona Plaza, Schumer and  Ocasio-Cortez urged New Yorkers who lost loved ones during the pandemic to call for FEMA relief, which will reimburse and help pay for burial expenses. 

For over a year, Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez have been seeking federal funds to help those who lost family to COVID-19. With tens of thousands of lives lost in New York City alone, the economic crisis that followed made funeral arrangements and memorial services an expense that many could barely, if at all, afford. In addition, some were forced to pay to store their loved one’s bodies while they figured out finance cemetery services.

Schumer believes that the mental scars of COVID-19 should not include a bill for funeral services.

“Adding insult to injury, so many families can’t afford it. They can’t give that loved one a proper funeral and a proper burial. It is like a deep, deep wound salt is poured in,” Schumer said.

Schumer discuses the burial relief, which is now accepting applications. Photo by Dean Moses

Starting on Monday, FEMA will provide up to $9,000 in retroactive reimbursements for those who faced financial difficulty holding funeral/burial services from Jan. 20 to Dec. 31, 2020. In addition, Schumer shared that those who are currently in need of burial relief can also apply for help and this will continue going forward.  He also stated that the new hotline provides a multilingual service with compassionate operators, who will listen and try to assist applicants.

“It is just gut wrenching to realize that there are thousands of people, bodies, lying in morgues not being buried properly. It’s just one of the many, many problems that average people face, poor people, working people with this COVID disaster,” Schumer said.

In February, Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez ventured to Corona, Queens — one of the hardest hit areas from the virus — to unveil the release of  the $2 billion in COVID-19 burial relief for the over 35,000 New Yorkers who perished from the novel coronavirus.

“I am very excited to say that today is the day the hotline is open and because that hotline is open you can call into FEMA and you can start this process today,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says death certificates must have COVID-19 written on them in order to be eligible for the program. Photo by Dean Moses

The Congresswoman explained a few key items that individuals should make sure they have when applying.  Families must have COVID written somewhere on their death certificate.

AOC also noted that in the earlier days of the virus, much was unknown as to what the contributing causes of death were. She advised that there are several options to have the death certificate amended at the institution that provided the document.

If you need assistance applying or need more information, contact 844-684-6333.

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