(WHTM) — Millions of Americans were faced with unexpected funeral expenses after losing loved ones to COVID-19, which is why FEMA created its COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program.

According to FEMA, to date it’s given out $1,694,959,348 nationwide, with $79,638,194 going to Pennsylvania.

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To qualify for assistance the death certificate must attribute the death COVID-19, which was not included for some who died early in the pandemic.

FEMA made a policy change to address the gap.

If you lost someone between Jan. 20 and May 16 of 2020 you can now submit a death certificate that does not attribute the death to COVID-19 along with a signed statement from a coroner or medical examiner linking the death to COVID-19.

For deaths occurring after May 16, 2020, the death certificate must say COVID-19.

To apply:
Call: 844-864-6333 (toll-free) | TTY: 800-462-7585
Hours of Operation: M-F 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Eastern Time
Multi-lingual services available
Online registration is not available

When you call, it will take about 20 minutes to apply, and you can ask questions and receive the help you need with the application process. Once the application is approved it takes two-to-three months to receive the funds, which can be direct deposit or a check by mail.

Currently there is no deadline to apply.

Beware of scammers that try to use the program to get your personal information. FEMA will not contact you unless you have already called FEMA and applied for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. Do not disclose information such as the name, birth date, or Social Security Number of any deceased individual during an unsolicited telephone call or e-mail from anyone.