Page 16 THE EVERETT ADVOCATE – FRiDAy, JunE 3, 2022 S y Senior How t G Udili d COVID Funeral Assistance Funds Sa a a H Dear Savvy Senior, I recently saw a news segment on TV about a government funeral assistance program available to families who lost loved ones during the pandemic. What can you tell me about this? I lost my 78-year-old mother to COVID in 2021 and want to find out if I’m still eligible for any funeral funds, and if so, what I need to do to get them. Still Sad Dear Sad, I’m very sorry about the loss of your mother. The government program you are asking about is the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (or FEMA). This program is part of the American Rescue Plan, a stimulus package passed in 2021 in an effort to help the country financially manage amid the pandemic. This program, which has no end date, offers up to $9,000 to cover the cost of a funeral for someone who died of COVID-19 as far back as January 2020. Unfortunately, less than half the people believed eligible for funeral assistance have actually applied for it. Here’s what you should know about the program’s requirements and how to apply. Where to Start? To apply for COVID-19 funeral assistance, you must do it over the phone by calling FEMA at 844-684-6333, anytime Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time. The application process takes about 20 minutes. After you apply, FEMA will provide you an application number, which you may use to create an online account at DisasterAssistance.gov if you choose. You will then need to submit supporting documents, including a death certificate for your mother, but it must state that her death “may have been caused by” or “was likely the result of” COVID-19 or COVID-19like symptoms. Her death Seni by Jim Miller o Get Underutilize must also have occurred in the U.S. on or after Jan. 20, 2020. If you don’t have this, you won’t be eligible. You’ll also need to submit proof of funeral expenses, such as itemized receipts, invoices or funeral home contracts. These supporting documents can be submitted either online (through your DisasterAssistance. gov account), by mail (P.O. Box 10001, Hyattsville, MD 20782) or via fax (855-2613452). After the paperwork is received, it takes FEMA about 45 days to make an eligibility decision. Families who had multiple deaths due to the coronavirus can also apply. One family can receive up to $35,000 across multiple funerals. Reimbursements can be used to cover any portion of funeral expenses including burial plots, caskets, preparation of the body, cremation, urns, clergy, services and headstones as well as costs related to state or local ordinances and producing death certificates. But be aware that prepaid funerals are not eligible for reimbursements. Any payment made specifically for a funeral prior to death is considered a duplication and is not eligible. If FEMA approves your application, the funds will either be deposited into your bank account or sent by mail via check, usually within a few days of approval. If, however, you receive a letter from FEMA saying you’re ineligible, or if the amount awarded is not enough, you have the right to appeal within 60 days of FEMA’s decision letter. For more information on the COVID Funeral Assistance program, visit FEMA. gov/disaster/coronavirus/ economic/funeral-assistance. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book. By Bob Katzen GET A FREE SUBSCRIPTION TO MASSTERLIST – Join more than 22,000 people, from movers and shakers to political junkies and interested citizens, who start their weekday morning with MASSterList— the popular newsletter that chronicles news and informed analysis about what’s going on up on Beacon Hill, in Massachusetts politics, policy, media and infl uence. The stories are drawn from major news organizations as well as specialized publications selected by widely acclaimed and highly experienced writers Keith Regan and Matt Murphy who introduce each article in their own clever and inimitable way. MASSterlist will be e-mailed to you FREE every Monday through Friday morning and will give you a leg up on what’s happening in the blood sport of Bay State politics. For more information and to get your free subscription, go to: https:// lp.constantcontactpages.com/ su/aPTLucK THE HOUSE AND SENATE: Beacon Hill Roll Call records local senators’ votes on roll calls from the week of May 2327. Some Senate roll calls are on proposed amendments to the $49.78 billion fi scal 2023 budget. This was the Senate’s third state budget in the COVID-19 era and many senators participated virtually from their homes or offi ces. Of the of the 1179 amendments fi led by senators only 15 came to a roll call vote. Many others were simply approved or rejected one at a time on voice votes without debate. To move things along even faster, the Senate also did its usual “bundling” of many amendments. Instead of acting on each amendment one at a time, hundreds of the proposed amendments are bundled and put into two piles— one pile that will be approved and the other that will be rejected, without a roll call, on voice votes where it is impossible to tell which way a senator votes. Senate President Karen Spilka, or the senator who is fi lling in for her at the podium, orchestrates the approval and rejection of the bundled amendments with a simple: “All those in favor say ‘aye,’ those opposed say ‘no.’ The ayes have it and the amendments are approved.” Or “All those in favor say ‘aye,’ those opposed say ‘no.’ The no’s nior n r ior Beacon Hill Roll Call have it and the amendments are rejected.” Senators don’t actually vote yes or no, and, in fact, they don’t say a word. The outcome was predetermined earlier behind closed doors. BAKER VETOES ALLOWING DRIVER’S LICENSE FOR UNDOCUMENTED/ ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS(H 4805) House 118-36, Senate 328, approved and Gov. Charlie Baker vetoeda conference committee version of legislation that would, starting July 1, 2023, allow undocumented/illegal immigrants to apply for a Massachusetts standard driver’s license. The House and Senate had approved different versions of the measure and this compromise was reached by a conference committee comprised of three senators and three representatives. The wide margin of passage by both branches means that each branch has the necessary two-thirds vote to override Baker’s veto. The legislation requires an applicant “without legal presence” in the United States to provide the Registry of Motor Vehicles with a foreign passport and at least one of five other documents: a driver’s license from another state, a foreign driver’s license, a birth certifi cate, a foreign national identification card or a marriage certificate or divorce decree from any U.S. state. “I cannot sign this legislation because it requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to issue state credentials to people without the ability to verify their identity,” Baker said in his veto message. “The Registry does not have the expertise or ability to verify the validity of many types of documents from other countries. The bill also fails to include any measures to distinguish standard Massachusetts driver’s licenses issued to persons who demonstrate lawful presence from those who don’t. “We are a nation of immigrants,” tweeted Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland) following the veto. “We all benefi t from increased public safety. And everyone deserves to feel safe and get to work, pick up children and be a part of their communities without fear. The @ma_senate looks forward to overriding this misguided decision.” “We are deeply disappointed that Gov. Baker has vetoed the [bill],” said Elizabeth Sweet, executive director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition.“The policy would not only make our communities safer, but benefi t our economy and bolster trust between law enforcement and immigrant communities. We hope that the Legislature will waste no time in overriding the governor’s veto.” Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), the sponsor of the measure, said it will make the lives of the more than 185,000 Massachusetts immigrants without status easier by allowing them to earn a standard driver’s license. “Nobody should have to fear detention or deportation over essential everyday tasks, such as getting to work, school, doctor’s appointments and grocery stores noted Crighton. Opponents said the bill doesn’t include any safeguards to ensure that a license to drive does not become misused for any illegal purposes including access to voting in elections or things that could put the public at risk. “I do not support this legislation as I believe it disincentivizes the individual from pursuing citizenship through legal means,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton). “It is also counterintuitive to the strong identity laws we have passed that keep us compliant with federal REAL ID requirements where individuals need greater documentation to protect and secure one’s identity when they go to obtain a license.” (A “Yes” vote is for the bill. A “No” vote is against it.) Rep. Joseph McGonagle Yes Sen. Sal DiDomenico Yes REVENGE PORN (H 4498) House 154-0, approved and sent to the Senate a proposal that would prohibit the posting of sexually explicit images of another person online without their permission— commonly referred to as “revenge porn.” The practice is often used by ex-spouses or ex-partners. Massachusetts is one of only two states that does not have a law about this crime. Another provision changes current law under which minors, under 18 years of age, who share explicit images of themselves or other minors can be charged with violating Massachusetts child pornography laws and are required to register with the Sex Off ender Registry. The bill allows minors to be diverted to an educational program that would provide them with information about the consequences of posting or transmitting indecent visual depictions of minors. BEACON | SEE PAGE 17

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