FEMA’s COVID-19 funeral expense hotline overwhelmed on day one, prompting frustration

FEMA’s new funeral expense hotline was overwhelmed by calls on the first day as people tried to apply for $9,000 for COVID-19 funeral expenses.

That was especially frustrating for people like Bill Schwartz from Nashua, N.H. whose dad passed in December from COVID-19.

“I started calling immediately and didn’t have any luck 15-200 times,” Schwartz said.

The program’s debut was marked by busy signals and technical issues. And the same problem occurred nationwide. People took to Twitter to complain, including Bill who wrote:

Other faced similar issues:

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FEMA was aware of the issue, sending its own tweet that said, in part:

“We are working to solve the technical issues caused by a high number of calls.”

But for callers like Schwartz who finally got through, it was worth the wait.

“Frankly, if this actually works out, it would be a nice thing to get. I think it’s a positive. So many people were negatively impacted by this. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Schwartz said.

FEMA said all applicants can open a case. The number to call is 844-684-6333.

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