PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Americans who have had a COVID-related death in their family could be reimbursed for funeral expenses. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is launching a funeral assistance program on Monday.

The coronavirus has taken over half a million lives in the U.S. and the deadly virus has left countless families with unimaginable grief and unexpected funeral costs.

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FEMA will launch the new program Monday morning to reimburse up to $9,000 for a COVID-victim’s funeral expenses.

Those who lost more than one family member can receive up to $35,000.

Paul R. Ajak III, the funeral director at Weddell-Ajak Funeral Home in Aspinwall, said $9,000 should cover a lot of the expenses.

“It helps substantially. For a basic funeral, it would obviously cover the funeral home but then if you have a traditional funeral, you must buy your grave, your marker for your grave,” said Ajak.

Here are the requirements listed on FEMA’s website:

“The death must have occurred in the United States, including the U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia.

The death certificate must indicate the death was attributed to COVID-19.

The applicant must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien who incurred funeral expenses after January 20, 2020.”

Ajak said when the pandemic started, it was tough for families who were planning funerals.

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“It was very hard to have one, 10 people max, and everything was pretty much private. We had funerals during that week when they shut everything down, gets canceled, and those families took it kind of hard, Memorialization is very important,” Ajak said.

In some cases, people could not afford a proper service or burial.

The FEMA reimbursement may help families honor their loved ones’ lives.

“If anybody had a COVID death in their family, I think they should apply for this,” Ajak said.

FEMA will start accepting applications Monday at 8 a.m. They will be taking calls until 8 p.m. You can call 844-684-6333.

You must supply a death certificate, funeral expense documents, and proof of funds received from other sources.

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For more information, go to the FEMA website by following this link.