Ocasio-Cortez, Schumer announce federal COVID-19 fund to help families pay for funerals

Ocasio-Cortez, Schumer announce federal COVID-19 fund to help families pay for funerals
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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Pelosi plows full speed ahead on jam-packed agenda Photos of the Week: Renewable energy, gymnast testimonies and a Met Gala dress Ocasio-Cortez, Bush push to add expanded unemployment in .5T spending plan MORE (D-N.Y.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that funds will soon be available for families struggling to pay funeral costs after losing a loved one to COVID-19. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is operating the $2 billion dollar fund across the country, reimbursing families up to $7,000 for funeral expenses, the New York Democrats said. 

"In the December COVID bill that passed, there is $2 billion, I am happy to say, to help people who are victims of COVID and do not have the dollars on their own to pay for the funeral and burial of loved ones," Schumer said Monday alongside Ocasio-Cortez in the New York City borough of Queens.

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The program is retroactive and currently includes funerals that took place from Jan. 20, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020. The lawmakers will seek to extend eligibility for the program through the end of the pandemic in the next COVID-19 relief bill.   

“When you suddenly lose a loved one, you’re talking about an expense of [up to] $10,000, and then during COVID, with overrun funeral facilities, et cetera, families also are having to deal with having to pay for the storage of the bodies of their own loved ones,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “This is wrong.” 

"I lost my dad when I was about 18 years old. And the funeral expenses haunted and followed my family, along with many other families in a similar position, for years,” she added.

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Families will be required to apply for the funding and provide documentation of funeral expenses in addition to a death certificate showing that their family member died from COVID-19.

Ocasio-Cortez said Monday that the funds will be available for undocumented immigrant families.

An application for the program is not currently active, CBS New York reported, but should be within the next couple of months.

The FEMA program is similar to funds that were made available for families following Hurricane Sandy in 2012.