COLUMBUS (WCMH) — COVID-19 claimed the lives of more than 600,000 Americans over the last year. If you buried a loved one because of the virus, you could be reimbursed for covering the cost.

The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act and the American Rescue Plan Act earmarked billions of dollars for FEMA to provide financial assistance for COVID-19 related funeral expenses.

Who’s eligible?

A representative for FEMA said funeral assistance isn’t based on income or location — it’s about getting money into the hands of people who need it. Up to $9,000 dollars per funeral is available.

You may qualify if you paid for funeral expenses after January 20 of 2020, if the death occurred in the United States, and if the death certificate indicates it was attributed to COVID-19.

How long does the process take?

FEMA said it is processing claims and determining eligibility in less than 30 days from the time the applicant submits all required documentation.

If you’re deemed eligible, the payment could arrive in just a matter of days, either through direct deposit, or by check. That money can be used to cover the costs for a casket or urn, a burial plot, or the use of funeral home equipment or staff.

Currently, there is no deadline to apply.

As of June 7, 2021, here in Ohio, 7,198 families have applied for financial assistance, $10,333,793 in reimbursements have been approved, and 1,576 applicants have received that money.

While a funding cap for the initiative has not yet been determined, those who are seeking reimbursement are encouraged to apply quickly.