Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- N.Y) saw a need in her district early in the pandemic for families that lost loved ones due to COVID-19 and could not pay for funeral expenses. Those already hit hardest with poverty and economic anxiety, on top of their grief, had to figure out how to pay for unexpected funeral costs, including storage costs because the pandemic killed so many people, funeral homes are just as overcrowded as hospitals.
Finally, the legislation she has been fighting for since May 2020 is seeing fruition as she and Senator Chuck Schumer unveiled funeral benefits for low income families that have lost a loved one due to COVID-19.
“It’s official. If you’ve lost a loved one due to COVID-19, you will soon be able to get reimbursed up to $7,000 for the expenses of laying a loved one to rest,” reads Ocasio-Cortez’s announcement.
AOC follows up the tweet by specifying that FEMA will be operating and authorized for up to $2 billion, as of right now, and is retroactive to January 2020.
The move comes as COVID-19 has hit low-income and marginalized communities in quick and disparaging rates, with many families unable to pay for their loved ones funerals or burials. Though initial social media postings made it unclear if this was a NY only bill, AOC specified to REMEZCLA that it is indeed nationwide.
The Bronx Congresswoman advises to start collecting documentation now. “FEMA will need expense documentation (receipts/invoices), death certificate, & docs for caller ID,” says AOC. She also states that the bill “includes the undocumented” though no further details have been unveiled.