How to claim new reimbursement available for COVID burials

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The COVID pandemic has put a financial strain on thousands of families in the Tri-State area when it comes to burying their loved ones.

7 On Your Side found the amount of people buried in a mass grave on Hart Island nearly tripled in 2020 compared to 2019, although there are no specifics released on how many of those burials were COVID-related.

It's a place where unclaimed bodies have been buried for more than a century.

The amount of people buried there increased to 2,334 people compared to 846 the previous year.

7 On Your Side Investigates first reported on the financial help needed by thousands of families last May. Now, almost a year later, the federal government is offering some financial assistance.

Beginning this month, FEMA is reimbursing families up to $9,000 for burial and cremation costs.

RELATED | 250,000 COVID deaths: Where are the hardest hit communities in our area?

An applicant has to provide a death certificate, receipts, and proofs the funds came from other sources.

Click here for more information on the federal reimbursement program.

FEMA has received reports of scammers reaching out to people offering to register them for funeral assistance. FEMA has not sent out any notifications and does not contact people prior to them registering for assistance.

In addition to the federal help, the city of New York also doubled its reimbursement for COVID-related burials and cremations.

RELATED | FEMA to reimburse families of COVID-19 victims for funeral expenses
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FEMA will release final guidance to potential applicants soon. But here's what to know if you have COVID-19 funeral expenses.

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