Gathering FEMA Funeral Cash Takes Some Tenacity — And Assist

As a funeral director at Ingold Funeral and Cremation in Fontana, California, Jessica Rodriguez helps families say goodbye to loved ones. “We mostly look after Latino families, most of them second and third generation,” said Rodriguez. “We have some of the first generation who don’t speak English.”

Most are unaware of a federal program that offers up to $ 9,000, she said. And even if they know about the help of the Federal Emergency Service, the process is daunting and the bureaucracy confusing. The lack of English proficiency is preventing some families of people who have died of Covid from receiving funeral reimbursement from FEMA, so their office is offering them help in Spanish.

Rodriguez himself is one of the applicants. “My father died of Covid. That’s why I really wanted to push the program, ”she said. “I know firsthand what it is like to have to raise so much money without planning it.”

Rodriguez said her funeral home was in a town in which almost 70% of its 215,000 inhabitants are Latinos who have kept a running list of all the deceased they care for who have died of Covid since the beginning of the pandemic. “We originally made a list to see the impact,” she said. “But when FEMA first announced the funeral services program, we made it our business to call and let every family on that list come up.”

As of Monday, FEMA has approved more than $ 278 million for more than 41,000 eligible applicants, with the average amount per application being $ 6,756. FEMA said it doesn’t consider ethnicity when determining eligibility, so the agency doesn’t track this data.

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It is important to help customers get some of this money as California Latinos suffered more Covid deaths than any other race or ethnic group and the Latino population was at greater risk from exposure to Covid-19, and noisy was tested less one study by researchers at Stanford University. Latinos are also much more likely than non-Hispanic whites to live in a household with a key worker who may not have the luxury of protecting themselves at home during the devastating months of the pandemic.

“In my 35-year career, I’ve never been in a situation like this where I’ve seen so much death,” said Rafael Rodriguez, a funeral director in the town of Bell at Funeraria del Angel Bell, part of the Dignity Memorial.

The cost of an average funeral can be as high as $ 15,000, he said, so the FEMA reimbursement program offers financial relief to many customers. But it is not easy to get the money.

Rodriguez and the funeral home manager Norma Huerta said they had daily calls from people who weren’t sure how to apply. “These are humble people who don’t have access to the Internet or who don’t know how to use a computer,” said Huerta. “They’ve trusted me since I helped them with the funeral. How could I say no? “

Although the FEMA helpline offers instructions in Spanish, uploading, emailing, or even faxing the required documents was a challenge, Huerta said. “I can spend three to four hours a day helping families with their applications.” Just sending a fax cover sheet is frustrating, she said. “I’ll tell you it will take a while, but be patient and I’ll help you get it done.”

Families call to request duplicate contracts and receipts, and to clarify death certificates. The hardest part for some was proving that their family member’s death was related to Covid, Huerta said. If not specifically stated on the death certificate, they are not qualified. Death certificates can be modified to receive reimbursement, but this process is also complicated and time-consuming.

Manuela Galvez, a 61-year-old originally from Sinaloa, Mexico, is one of the applicants Huerta has helped. She lost her son Luis Alberto Vasquez to fall ill with Covid on April 22, 2020. The 36-year-old led a cleaning team that disinfected assisted living facilities where Galvez suspects her son was getting Covid.

Galvez said she heard about the FEMA checks from family members but didn’t understand the process. “Norma did me a great favor filling out the paperwork,” Galvez said in Spanish. “I wouldn’t have made it myself because I’m completely lost in technology.”

Those in need of help the most are most segregated, said Rafael Fernández de Castro Medina, Director of the Center for US-Mexican Studies at the University of California-San Diego. “Often it is people who not only speak no English, but sometimes not even speak Spanish well,” said Medina. “Like people who come from Yucatán and speak Maya.”

Isaias Hernandez, executive director of the Eastmont Community Center in East Los Angeles, said many of the people who ask for help are overwhelmed by the process. “Most have never buried a loved one, so they are emotional and still struggle with the trauma,” said Hernandez. “Simply gathering the documents together seems complicated to them.”

Undocumented immigrants and those who have a temporary visa are not authorized for FEMA funeral aid, though proponents like Hernandez say these are the people who kept the country afloat during the pandemic. “They work in grocery stores, daycare centers and schools,” he said. “They are the most important workers.” Hernandez said his office received few calls from people inquiring about legal status qualifications.

He said it’s not just about having access to technology, it’s also about having access to people who can support it. “The people in our community are extremely dependent on the younger generation to help them navigate basic computer functions,” he said.

For Galvez, that person was her late son, Luis Alberto. “He was the one who was most patient with me,” she said.

Galvez is waiting to hear from FEMA whether she will be eligible for a refund for the $ 5,400 she spent on her son’s funeral. “If they can’t give me money, that’s fine,” said Galvez. “It’s a help they offer that I didn’t expect anyway. It’s in God’s hands. “

Heidi from Marco:
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Scammers Goal FEMA Funeral Cash, What You Want To Know?

Scammers Target FEMA Funeral Money, What Do You Need To Know?

ROBERTSON COUNTY TENNESSEE: (Smokey Barn News) – At Smokey Barn News we were tracking unusual traffic in our obituary area. Traffic comes from all parts of the US and abroad and at any time. We weren’t sure what to do with it until we learned of a FEMA scam that was robbing families of FEMA COVID money to help survivors with funeral expenses. A by-product of the fraud would of course be identity theft.

Let’s face it, if we lose someone close to us, we may be more prone to just the right scam.

What is FEMA doing? FEMA offers financial assistance to families who have lost a loved one to COVID-19 to cover funeral expenses. Here’s why it’s so attractive to scammers. Assistance can be up to $ 9,000 per funeral and a maximum of $ 35,500 per request. Click here to login.

FEMA believes scammers are browsing obituary sections looking for COVID-19 victims. Once they have a destination, they call and pretend to be FEMA representatives. “We hear that you lost a loved one to COVID-19, we can help.” The scammer then collects social security and other personal information. After that, the scammer can apply for the FEMA money himself or simply sell the information on the internet.

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To begin with, FEMA will NEVER call you unless you have made contact. So if you get a call it is fake.

Here’s what FEMA says: “FEMA’s Funeral Assistance Program has controls in place to mitigate fraudulent activity. FEMA will not contact anyone until they call FEMA or ask for assistance. Do not give out information such as the name, date of birth, or social security number of a deceased family member on unsolicited phone calls or emails from anyone claiming to be a federal employee or from FEMA. “

FEMA added; “If you have any doubts as to whether a FEMA representative is legitimate, hang up and report them to the FEMA hotline at 800-621-3362 or the National Anti-Fraud Center hotline at 866-720-5721. Complaints can also be filed by contacting local law enforcement agencies. “

If you’re having problems with forms or the registration process, the company handling your funeral arrangements may be able to help.

Remember, the scammers can vote for dollars and call any member of your family who may or may not know about the scam.

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FEMA begins providing cash to households to pay for funerals of COVID victims – WISH-TV | Indianapolis Information | Indiana Climate

INDIANAPOLIS (WUNSCH / CNN) – The Federal Agency for Disaster Protection pays up to $ 9,000 for a funeral and nearly $ 35,000 for families who have buried multiple people who have died of COVID-19.

The money is intended for families who have paid the funeral expenses out of their own pocket. However, the program’s debut on Monday was marked by busy signals and “technical issues,” the agency said on Monday, noting that it had received “thousands of calls” on the first day of operation.

“We ask applicants to be patient as we work to fix these issues and have all relevant documents ready when they call to apply,” said FEMA. “Please note that there is no application deadline and that applicants have the opportunity to open a case.”

More than 562,000 people in the United States had died from the coronavirus as of Monday Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering Dashboard. A total of 12,746 Hoosiers have died of COVID-19 as of Monday. according to Indiana health officials.

Amy Sloan buried her father Charlie in April 2020. Charlie Sloan had a modest life insurance policy to cover some of the costs associated with his death. Amy, her sister, and her mother had to pay a few thousand dollars in funeral expenses that were not covered by the policy.

“Is my mother entitled to get some of this money back because the wording is very vague?” Sloan asked News 8.

When Charlie Sloan was hospitalized last year, his family was told that he was infected with the virus. Charlie Sloan’s family received a call in the middle of the night that it was time to take him off life support.

“The entire funeral was covered for the funeral home because the funerals were so small at the time that we technically didn’t have to pay for a service because there weren’t enough people to hold a service, and then we interfered for the entire funeral . the land cost for the cemetery and its stone, ”Sloan said.

FEMA assumes the costs for the coffin, the funeral, the transport of the deceased, the burial site and the burial or cremation for people who died of COVID-19 after January 20, 2020 The death must have occurred in the United States or in the US territories. The person seeking assistance must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen, or a qualified alien or immigrant.

Andy Clayton, the managing director of Indiana Funeral Directors Associationsaid his group provides information to funeral homes and families. FEMA funeral aid money is paid directly to families, not funeral homes.

Clayton said, “You don’t have to be a citizen of the United States to be eligible if someone is in this country on a work visa or may be illegal and has died of COVID and it is listed on your death certificate as a contributing factor.”

People cannot apply for assistance online. You have to call 844-684-6333 and FEMA warns that there is already fraud;; Nobody is going to call to offer people to sign you up. The TTY number is 800-462-7585. Both numbers are open to callers on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET.

While FEMA has a history of helping families with disaster-related funeral expenses, CNN reports, the COVID-19 effort is the largest of its kind. Approximately $ 2 billion was raised from the $ 900 billion Congress approved in December, while the Democrats’ $ 1.9 trillion package last month backed the agency with an additional $ 50 billion in coronavirus costs.

York selectmen rethink seawall prices, nonetheless ready for FEMA cash

YORK, Maine – Although the Long Sands Beach seawall was struck during last week’s storm, city administrator Steve Burns said the new barrier is holding up well.

“You could really see the difference,” said Burns, describing how the storm surge hit the new build with little or no negative impact.

That was the good news.

The way the repair project is paid for continues to be a cause for concern.

Triggered by massive storms in 2017 and 2018, repairs to the seawall are expected to cost several million dollars. As previously reported, Public Works Director Dean Lessard had anticipated that most of the cost would be reimbursed through state and federal funds. However, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has not yet approved any payments.

These questions came to a head at the Board of Directors meeting on January 25, when Board members asked if the cost of the work carried out exceeded the budget approved by the voters, given that FEMA had no financial commitment. Board member Mike Estes requested a full account and the matter was carried over to the February 8 meeting.

In putting the FEMA accounts on the agenda for further discussion, the board took into account the worst-case scenarios provided by Burns, Lessard, and City Treasurer Wendy Anderson: “I want to find out how much liability there is when FEMA nothing reimbursed at all from the accounts receivable and how much money has been spent so far, ”Burns wrote in an email dated February 5 to Anderson and Lessard.

This potential worst-case scenario gap is nearly $ 2 million in the FEMA Refundable Account. “We should ask voters to approve the use of the credit to cover that amount in the event of a reduced or zero FEMA reimbursement,” Burns wrote in his February 5 report for Board Review and Discussion.

Currently, the city has approval for up to $ 2 million in bond funding for the project, of which approximately $ 1.2 million has been billed to date, Burns wrote, adding that the city needs to be sure not to exceed this current limit of US $ 2 million.

More:The state fined York $ 75,000 for illegal dam work

The chosen ones discussed the possibility of adding an arrest warrant article to the ballot, asking voters to approve up to $ 2 million from the city’s fund to cover any costs the city will incur in the event FEMA fails to provide reimbursement. They are also considering the possibility of asking the Budget Committee to postpone the elements of the FY22 dam project for one year.

The board asked the public works department, finance director and city administrator to obtain an opinion from a bond attorney and report to the board by the next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, February 17th.

“When we get back, we need to have the numbers,” said CEO Todd Frederick.

In response to these concerns, board member Kinley Gregg requested that all work on the seawall be halted from March 1st. However, she later withdrew her application after a brief discussion.

“I don’t want to quit (work) and have safety issues until summer,” said Vice President Robert Palmer Jr.

Board members suggested reconsidering the possibility of discontinuing work after the next meeting if they awaited further information from Public Works.

Budget discussion postponed

The elect had planned to discuss parts of the budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 during the meeting on Monday evening, but this notice was incorrectly issued. The elect plan to revisit the budget discussion on Feb.17, Burns said.

Separately, the Budgets Committee will hold its first public hearing on the budget proposal for fiscal year 22 on February 16, Burns said in an email.

City Hall project manager

The board considered a recommendation to hire a project manager for the Town Hall Building project with a salary of $ 80,000.

Palmer said he wanted to make sure the city is spending enough money to do this job. “It’s too important a project,” he said.

Estes expressed concern that there is currently no need to hire a project manager for this salary.

“I would like to hear from the building committee how much has to be spent. If this committee says $ 80,000, so be it, ”said Estes.

A vote on the matter was postponed until later in February after feedback from the building committee.

Approvals approved for recurring events

With a touch of optimism for the coming year, the board approved a series of post-COVID-city events, starting with the York Parks and Recreation Department’s Spring Surprises slated for March 7th.

The full list of approved events includes the Big A 50k (May 21), the York Little League Opening Day Parade (May 1), and Memorial Day Parade (May 31).

Board approval stipulates that all COVID guidelines must be followed as they may be at the time of the event.

Clarification of the appeal process

Burns told the board that he had prepared a “script” to guide anyone affected by a land use decision in the city. This should clarify the process and assist citizens and staff alike and will be posted on the city’s website this week.

Temporary traffic light must be visited again

Palmer did not provide any information on the progress of the York Beach Connector Road opening and asked for a written report on the status of the temporary traffic lights on Route 1 and Short Sands Road to be presented at the next meeting.