Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 2021-04-30 15:53:58 –
Oklahoma City (KFOR) – More than 570,000 people die from COVID-19 in the United States, according to the CDC. The FEMA Funeral Assistance Program was launched on April 12 to provide financial assistance to those who lost their loved ones to the virus. Within the first 90 minutes of the hotline going live, nearly a million calls arrived at the center.
News 4 has contacted FEMA for updates on how its call center works and what people can expect if they contact for service.
In connection with the overwhelming number of phones, a FEMA spokesperson said he was working on managing those phones and enhanced the functionality of the call center. FEMA has 5,000 agents working with other federal officials to assist with high volume calls.
News 4 asked why the call center was set up in the first place rather than having an online option available.
A FEMA spokesperson said he decided to apply by phone for several reasons. One is that it was the fastest way to launch a program, given the existing system. A spokeswoman said developing a new online application would delay the program by several months, while a call center would allow trained operators to gather the specific information needed for the new program. ..
Due to the large number of calls, FEMA has sought people who are waiting patiently to continue, as operators are not rushing to make emotional calls to those who are dealing with grief. A FEMA spokesman told News 4: “If you hear a busy tone or the call does not connect, please wait. Please try again later. There is no deadline for application.”
Interested parties can apply by calling 844-684-6333 (TTY: 800-462-7585) Monday through Friday from 9am to 9pm EDT. A FEMA spokesman said the application would take 20 minutes. Operators don’t rush to call because they want to ensure that all applicants answer questions and get the help they need. Multilingual services are also available. So far, the support line has supported applicants in about 40 languages.
A FEMA spokesman said it is important to note that each application is processed manually and on a case-by-case basis at the time of registration. When someone makes a call, they are given a unique application number. That number must be included in all documents submitted to FEMA. FEMA will send you a letter with information about COVID-19 funeral assistance and documents that must be submitted within 3-5 business days of completing your application.
As of Friday, April 30, at 8:00 am, FEMA received more than 154,500 funeral assistance applications.
FEMA has awarded more than $ 1.2 million since the program began on April 12.
FEMA can award up to $ 9,000 per funeral and up to $ 35,500 per application for families who have lost many loved ones. The average amount of funeral assistance per application is $ 7,423.
FEMA told News 4 that pre-planned funerals are not eligible for assistance. “This includes burial or funeral insurance, prepaid funeral contracts, prepaid funeral expenses trusts, or Medicade irrevocable trusts,” said a FEMA spokeswoman.
FEMA also warns that scams are widespread as scammers are beginning to contact people who are offering to register for funeral assistance.
FEMA will not contact anyone until the person calls FEMA or has already applied for assistance. If you’re not sure if your FEMA phone is legal, please report it by handing it to the FEMA Helpline (800-621-3362) or the National Fraud Hotline (866-720-5721).
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