What to Know
- New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced plans to reimburse funeral benefits for families of low-income New Yorkers who have died from the virus
- The December COVID relief bill earmarked $2 billion for families, $200 million of which will go to New Yorkers
- The funding not-yet released will be retroactive back to March 2020 when the pandemic first made New York City the early epicenter of the global pandemic
Standing in one of New York City's hardest hit boroughs of the coronavirus pandemic, a pair of lawmakers outlined plans to get millions in federal aid funding to New Yorkers who have lost family members to COVID-19.
New York Senator Chuck Schumer and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were in Queens on Monday to announce funeral benefits for families of low-income New Yorkers who have died from the virus.
"In the December COVID bill that passed there is $2 billion, I am happy to say, to help people who are victims of COVID and do not have the dollars on their own to pay for the funeral and burial of loved ones," Schumer said.
The funding for New York will come from FEMA disaster funding, similar to money made available following the Hurricane Sandy disaster, Schumer explained. Of the agency's $2 billion earmarked for aid, the senator said over $200 million will go to New York families.
"Together we are going to make sure that FEMA implements this well, in a way that is easy for families to apply and get the dollars," Schumer said.
To effectively reach the families that need the money most, Schumer and Ocasio-Cortez say a family that thinks they are eligible should prepare the following:
- Documentation to verify relative's identity and relation to the deceased;
- Death certificate that lists the deceased's death as related to COVID-19;
- Documentation of all costs associated with funeral and burial services;
- Coordinate with family members as well as city and state on who will submit the claim as they are "next of kin"
"If you are a family that lost a loved one, please make sure that you start to document and please make sure that you start to collect all documentation of the costs of burying a loved one. Make sure that you start to assemble this. Get your death certificate so that we can reimburse your family up to $7,000," Ocasio-Cortez explained.
The funding not yet released will be retroactive back to March 2020 when the pandemic first made New York City the early epicenter of the global pandemic, the lawmakers said. They hope the next relief bill to pass will extend eligibility through the end of the pandemic.
A call center setup by FEMA will assist families to register and submit the necessary documentation to acquire reimbursement funds, they said. The personnel hired will speak a variety of languages to better assist the diversity of New Yorkers.
"This pandemic was not hitting all of us equally. It was hitting Black families hard, it was hitting frontline workers hard, it was hitting immigrant families extremely hard, working class families. It was disproportionately hitting along lines of race and lines of class," Rep. Ocasio-Cortez said Monday.