ASSEMBLY, No. 4033

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED MAY 7, 2020

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  BENJIE E. WIMBERLY

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

Assemblyman  THOMAS P. GIBLIN

District 34 (Essex and Passaic)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Establishes “2020 New Jersey Burial Assistance Program;” appropriates $20 million.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act establishing the “2020 New Jersey Burial Assistance Program,” supplementing chapter 13 of Title 26 of the Revised Statutes and making a $20 million appropriation.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1. a.  There is established in the Department of Human Services the “2020 New Jersey Burial Assistance Program” for the purpose of providing financial assistance to individuals to cover eligible funeral expenses related to COVID-19 deaths during the COVID-19 crisis.

     b.  The Commissioner of Human Services shall administer this program and adopt, pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1), rules and regulations to implement this program.  The commissioner shall determine eligible funeral expenses, establish a maximum amount of assistance per applicant, and devise a formula for the distribution of an amount of program funds to each applicant based on household income and need.

     c.  In order to qualify for this program, an applicant shall comply with the following conditions of eligibility:

     (1)  the applicant is a New Jersey resident;

     (2)  the applicant is filing for a death that a state, local, territorial, or tribal (SLTT) government licensed medical official has attributed to COVID-19;

     (3)  the applicant incurred or will incur eligible funeral expenses, not covered by other sources such as burial insurance or financial assistance from voluntary agencies, applicable government programs, or other entities; and

     (4)  the applicant will provide to the Department of Human Services the following documentation:

     (a)  an official death certificate or a signed statement from a SLLT government licensed medical officer attributing the death to COVID-19;

     (b)  an itemized funeral bill, any funeral receipts, and a funeral contract signed by the funeral director, indicating the applicant incurred or will incur eligible funeral expenses;

     (c)  documentation of burial insurance and any forms of funeral assistance received from voluntary agencies, government agencies, charities, or other entities;

     (d)  information and documentation regarding the applicant’s available household assets and income as of the date of the death; and

     (e)  proof of New Jersey residency.

     d.  As used in this section:

     “COVID-19” means the coronavirus disease 2019, which is a highly infectious disease that causes respiratory illness.

     “COVID-19 crisis” means the duration of the public health emergency and state of emergency, as declared by the Governor in Executive Order 103 of 2020.

     e.     The commissioner shall identify amounts of federal government assistance provided to this State for COVID-19 emergency relief, which can be allocated to this program.

 

     2.    There is appropriated to the Department of Human Services the sum of $20 million to be credited to the “2020 New Jersey Burial Assistance Program” to effectuate the provisions of P.L.    , c.    (C.        ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill).  The amounts appropriated herein shall be funded first from assistance provided from the federal government to the extent not prohibited by federal law.  The remaining amounts necessary to fund this program are appropriated from the General Fund.

 

     3.    This act shall take effect immediately and shall expire one year following the rescission of Executive Order No. 103 of 2020 by the Governor.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill establishes in the Department of Human Services a burial assistance program for individuals, whose loved ones have died to COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus 2019, during the COVID-19 crisis.  The COVID-19 crisis has placed the State under a state of emergency and has been declared a public health emergency, pursuant to Executive Order No. 103 of 2020 by the Governor.  This crisis has resulted in thousands of casualties over a short period of time and has caused economic hardships, such as shut down businesses and job losses.  These factors make unexpected burial costs more burdensome for some individuals, especially those of low-income.  The bill appropriates $100 million to provide burial assistance for qualifying funeral expenses to New Jersey residents.

     This bill directs the Commissioner of Human Services to implement this program.  The commissioner will determine eligible funeral expenses, establish a maximum amount of assistance per applicant, and devise a formula for the distribution of an amount of program funds to each applicant based on household income and need.  This bill also directs the commissioner to identify amounts of federal government assistance provided to this State for COVID-19 relief, which can be allocated to this program

       In order to qualify for this program, the applicant is required to be a New Jersey resident; the applicant is filing for a death attributed to COVID-19; and the applicant incurred or will incur eligible funeral expenses not covered by other sources. The applicant will also provide to the Department of Human Services the following documentation: an official death certificate or a signed statement from a SLLT government licensed medical officer, attributing the death to COVID-19; an itemized funeral bill, any funeral receipts, and a funeral contract indicating the applicant incurred or will incur eligible funeral expenses; documentation of burial insurance and any forms of funeral assistance received from other sources; information and documentation regarding the applicant’s available household assets and income as of the date of the death; and proof of New Jersey residency.

     The bills specifies that the $20 million being credited to the “2020 New Jersey Burial Assistance Program” in the Department of Human Services will first be funded using any available federal assistance given to the State, to the extent not prohibited by federal law, and that the remaining amounts necessary to fund this program are appropriated from the General Fund.  This bill takes effect immediately and will expire one year following the rescission of Executive Order No. 103 of 2020 by the Governor