Frequently Asked Questions
What type of individual assistance is available in a disaster?
Insurance is the primary source of recovery from disasters. If you are uninsured or underinsured, available assistance will depend on the scope and magnitude of the disaster. If the event is below federal government disaster declaration thresholds, assistance may be available from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and members of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). If the event is severe enough to warrant a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance by the President, two primary federal programs offer disaster assistance.
- FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides money and direct services to those affected by a major disaster. Requirements must be met to qualify for help from this program.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest loans for damage to property owned by homeowners, renters, businesses and private non-profit organizations that are not fully covered by insurance. SBA’s Administrator may issue an SBA-only declaration based on at least 25 homes and/or businesses that sustained at least 40% uninsured property damage.
What type of ownership documentation can I provide to support my application for help?
Below are a few types of documents that may be provided to prove ownership:
- Deed or Official record may be the original deed or deed of trust to the property listing you as the legal owner.
- Title number which lists you on the actual escrow or title document for the purchase of the dwelling.
- Mortgage payment book or other mortgage documents (i.e. late payment notice, foreclosure notice) may be used to verify the ownership when your name is listed along with the damaged dwelling address.
- Real property insurance must be for the damaged dwelling you are occupying with your name listed as the Insured.
- Tax receipts or a property tax bill showing the damaged dwelling and listing you as the responsible party to the assessments.
What type of occupancy documentation can I provide to support my application for help?
Below are a few types of documents that may be provided to prove occupancy:
- Utility Bill for the damaged dwelling you are occupying with your name (or name of co-applicant). The utility bill should be for one of the major utilities, such as electricity, gas, or water.
- Merchant’s Statement sent to the damaged dwelling you are occupying with your name (or name of co-applicant). Merchant statements include: credit card bills, delivery notices, or other first class mail addressed to you and showing the damaged dwelling address.
- Employer’s Statement sent to the damaged dwelling you are occupying with your name (or name of co-applicant). An Employer’s statement refers to pay stubs and similar documents sent to you and showing the damaged dwelling address.
- Current Driver’s License showing the address of the damaged dwelling.
What is the difference between an Initial Damage Assessment and a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment?
An Initial Damage Assessment is the first data provided on the impact of an event. It is conducted by county representatives and helps to determine whether a Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment is necessary or not. If requested, a Joint PDA serves many purposes. It confirms the Initial Damage Assessment, may uncover additional damages and is necessary for a request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration. Joint PDAs have specific criteria based on habitability. Initial Damage Assessments criteria are decided on a county by county basis and may or may not coincide with the state and federal criteria.
What is the Small Business Administration and why do they conduct a different assessment?
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a federal organization offering assistance during a disaster. While their primary service is assisting small businesses in the recovery process, they ALSO can provide low-interest loans to individuals and families. These loans may be able to assist survivors with home repairs and personal property loss going well beyond what FEMA grants are authorized to cover.
SBA conducts a different damage assessment because SBA loans can cover more items. The state and FEMA damage assessment is concerned with bringing survivors back to safe, sanitary and secure, whereas SBA goes beyond this to potentially bring survivors back to where they were before the disaster. When conducting an SBA damage assessment, the SBA representative looks for 25 or more homes with 40% uninsured or underinsured damages.
Why do Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment teams have four people, isn’t that a lot?
Joint PDA teams have representatives from each level of government—federal, state and local. The most efficient way to ensure prompt assistance to survivors is to get each of these levels of government on the same page and the best way to do that is to allow them to evaluate the situation together.
What role does each Joint Preliminary Damage Assessment team member play?
- At the federal level, FEMA and SBA each conduct assessments based on different criteria. FEMA seeks to identify the total number of persons in a county who cannot safely live in their home, while SBA looks to assess whether the damages meet their specific threshold for declaration.
- The state representative judges damages using the same criteria as the FEMA representative but seeks to ensure that local issues that affect damage levels are incorporated into the assessment, state agencies are activated to assist when necessary and accurate, comprehensive data goes to the governor.
- The local team member is the most important piece of this puzzle. He or she guides the rest of the team to the damage, provides the initial damage assessment data, provides disaster information and offers local input on neighborhoods and individual homes. Without each of these individuals working together, state and federal assistance may be delayed.
Are there other damage assessments?
Definitely. The American Red Cross is often on scene first to assess the human needs of an affected population. The National Guard may conduct a Rapid Impact Assessment—a concept developed in Florida after Hurricane Andrew where the Florida National Guard is deployed to report immediate survivor needs (food, water, shelter, medical, security) and damage to supporting infrastructure (utilities, communications, transportation, medical facilities, emergency services). In small events, the Small Business Administration may conduct their own damage assessment when it is clear that a Joint PDA is unnecessary. For public infrastructure, a Joint Public Assistance Preliminary Damage Assessment can be conducted for roads, utilities, public buildings, etc.
However, the Joint Individual Assistance Preliminary Damage Assessment is the assessment that is used for the official request for a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance.
Can I get a federal grant based on the Preliminary Damage Assessment?
No. Survivors can only get assistance after a Major Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance has been signed by the President. After this declaration, survivors can apply for assistance online or through FEMA’s tele-registration line (1-800-621-FEMA(3362)). Once a survivor has applied for assistance, a FEMA home inspector will call to setup an appointment to conduct the official home inspection. This is the assessment on which assistance is based.
How can I tell whether a person conducting an IA PDA is legitimate?
All state Individual Assistance team members wear a State Emergency Response Team shirt and state identification. State PDA team members may ask about your damages and insurance but DO NOT REQUIRE any personally identifiable information (like your social security number). If you believe someone is fraudulently representing themselves, you should contact either your county Emergency Management Office or the non-emergency telephone number for your local police. For price gouging concerns, contact the Florida Division of Consumer Services.
How can I contact the state to have them conduct a Preliminary Damage Assessment on my home or business?
A Preliminary Damage Assessment can only be requested by the county Emergency Management Office. If you have experienced disaster-related damage to your home, call your county Emergency Management Office to receive disaster-related information and to document that you have been affected.
COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
How much damage does it take to get a federal declaration?
There is no Individual Assistance threshold for a Major Disaster Declaration. An IA declaration is based upon several factors, including but not limited to: concentration and level of damages, trauma, special populations, lack of available voluntary agency assistance, underinsured or uninsured population and recent multiple disasters.
An SBA declaration on the other hand does have a threshold of 25 homes with 40% uninsured or underinsured damages.
Who should serve as the local PDA team member?
Ideally, the local IA PDA team member is someone who can: provide county specific information regarding income level, insurance, ownership, guide the team to damage areas (most damaged first) and connect the team to information sources in county (shelters, property appraiser’s office info, voluntary agency resources). The most common local PDA team member with these qualifications is a representative from the county Property Appraiser’s Office. Property Appraisers in each county have access to Property Identification Numbers (PINs) which contain useful information such as home value. However, any local agent who has a deep understanding of the local area would be an asset.
What is probable assistance and why should I care?
Upon completion of an IA PDA, state and FEMA team members report probable assistance numbers for the damage assessment rather than total damage numbers. Probable assistance is used to identify those who are most likely to receive a federal grant if there were to be a Major Disaster Declaration. Those who are most likely to receive assistance are those survivors whose primary residence is uninsured and inaccessible or is uninsured and has damages at the minor, major or destroyed level.
The state utilizes these numbers because it gives the governor and the county an accurate picture of the likelihood that a federal declaration would be granted if the governor were to request one.
Do I have to visit a Disaster Recovery Center to apply for assistance?
No. You may call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362) to start the process. The hearing and/or the speech impaired may call TTY 800-462-7585 to apply. Also, applicants can register online at www.disasterassistance.gov.
Do I have to be a legal U.S. resident to receive Individual Assistance?
Possibly. To be eligible for assistance from FEMA you must be a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien. A qualified alien generally includes individuals who are lawful permanent residents (possessing an alien registration receipt card, commonly called a “green card”) or those with legal status due to asylum, refugee, parole (admission into the U.S. for humanitarian purposes), withholding of deportation, or victim of domestic violence.
Do I qualify if I am an undocumented immigrant?
Possibly. You may apply for Individual Assistance on behalf of your child who is a U.S. citizen— born in the U.S. or naturalized— or a qualified alien. In addition, another adult household member may qualify for assistance if he or she is a documented immigrant. You may also be eligible under many different programs run by state, local and voluntary agencies for various types of assistance. An undocumented immigrant may be eligible for short-term, non-cash emergency aid provided by FEMA.
If I rent an apartment can I get help to replace my damaged property?
Possibly. A renter may qualify for an SBA low-interest disaster loan or a grant from FEMA to replace personal property. One type of grant may cover temporary housing needs if a renter has to move to another dwelling. Individuals or families may also be eligible for grants that help with other serious disaster-related needs and expenses not covered by insurance or other disaster assistance programs.
Should I worry that receiving FEMA assistance may decrease the amount of my Social Security checks?
No. FEMA assistance funds do not come out of Social Security funds and will not affect your monthly Social Security check.
Do I have to register with FEMA if I am already registered with the American Red Cross (ARC)?
Yes. Registering with ARC is different than registering for FEMA assistance. In order to be considered for FEMA assistance you must register with FEMA directly.
If I receive disaster assistance from FEMA will it decrease the amount available to help others in need?
No. There are enough disaster funds to take care of every eligible applicant.
Is there any cost associated with registering for disaster assistance?
No. There are no costs related to registering for or receiving federal disaster assistance. If you are asked to pay for federal disaster assistance, contact the Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General hotline at 800-323-8603.
Does disaster assistance have to be repaid?
A grant from the Individual and Households Program does not have to be repaid. Loans from the Small Business Administration must be repaid.
THE DISASTER RESERVIST PROGRAM
What is the purpose of the Disaster Reservist Program?
The Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM) does not have sufficient numbers of trained disaster specialists to manage and recover from a major or catastrophic disaster. Because of this, DEM has initiated a Disaster Reservist program to quickly provide additional human resources to support the State of Florida’s actions during and after disaster.
What types of disasters can Reservists expect to be activated for?
While hurricanes are the most common type of disaster in Florida, Reservists need to be prepared to be activated for any type of event. These include, but are not limited to: severe weather (such as a tornado or severe flooding), terrorist attacks, natural disasters (such as an earthquake or a tsunami), or an environmental event.
What kind of training is available for Disaster Reservists?
When a Reservist is activated after a presidential declaration of disaster, he or she will be trained by the Florida Division of Emergency Management (DEM) to fulfill the duties for which that Reservist is responsible. While DEM does not currently offer training during periods of non-activation, there are several FEMA Independent Study Courses (some required and some highly recommended) for Reservists to complete.
How are Disaster Reservists compensated?
Disaster Reservists receive compensation for their travel and a per diem for their room and board. In addition, Reservists are also paid an hourly wage, including time and a half for any hours worked beyond the normal forty (40) hour work week. Compensation rates will be set at the time of hiring and are based on the individual’s job assignment. Disaster Reservist positions do not receive any benefits.
Because DEM employees are paid on a monthly basis, all activated Reservists need to be financially self sufficient for a period of six (6) weeks.
What items are necessary to complete a Disaster Reservist application?
See the main Disaster Reservist Page for a list of items necessary to complete a Disaster Reservist application.
What is required of a Disaster Reservist?
Potential Reservists must be at least 18 years old and have the time and commitment to complete the required training. In times of disaster, Reservists who are called to active duty must have the ability to commit a minimum of 15 consecutive days of service. Reservists must also be able to deploy to all areas of the State of Florida and may be required to work non-traditional hours (including holidays and weekends).
Is Florida Citizenship required to be a Disaster Reservist?
While a Disaster Reservist does not have to be a citizen of the State of Florida, the Division of Emergency Management will only pay for expenses that are incurred in the State of Florida. Therefore it is the responsibility of the out-of-state Reservist to provide his or her own travel to and from Florida.
To complete the State of Florida application, what should Disaster Reservists put for position title and number?
Enter “Disaster Reservist” as the position title. Leave the position number blank.
May Disaster Reservists submit applications through People First?
We cannot accept Disaster Reservists applications through People First at this time. All applications need to be mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to the Disaster Reservist Cadre Manager.
How do applicants know if they have been accepted into the Disaster Reservist program?
After the Disaster Reservist application has been processed and approved, an applicant can expect to receive an acceptance packet in the mail. This packet includes several forms that must be returned to the Disaster Reservist Cadre Manager before the applicant can be activated and deployed in the event of a disaster.
ACTIVATION AND DEPLOYMENT
After acceptance into the Disaster Reservist program, when can Reservists expect to be activated and deployed?
Reservists are only used after there has been a presidentially declared disaster. Because it is impossible to predict when, where, or how often a disaster may occur, Reservists must be prepared to be activated and deployed at any time.
How soon after a disaster can Reservists expect to be contacted?
Depending on the type of event, a Reservist can expect to be contacted almost immediately after the presidentially declared disaster. Because we often have a few days notice before a hurricane makes landfall, we sometimes may contact Reservists 24-120 hours in advance of a hurricane’s landfall to place them on standby. However, Reservists will not be activated before an event occurs.
After a presidentially declared disaster, how will Reservists be contacted to be activated and deployed?
The Florida Division of Emergency Management has established an automated calling system to determine who is available for a possible activation. If a Reservist indicates that he or she is available, the Reservist will be contacted a second time with details of the activation and deployment depending on the number of personnel required.
If a Reservist misses the call to be activated, can he or she still be deployed?
If a Reservist misses the call to be activated, the automated system is programmed to leave the Reservist a voicemail message. In addition, the system will send out an e-mail asking the availability of the Reservist. To let the Florida Division of Emergency Management know whether or not you are available to be deployed, please respond with an e-mail to Disaster.Reservist.email@example.com to verify your deployment status. For any other questions, please email the Disaster Reservist Cadre Manager.
After Disaster Reservists are activated and deployed, what are they expected to do?
Because Disaster Reservists are temporary employees, they can be used in any position for which they qualify. However, most Reservists are assigned as Disaster Recovery Center Managers or as Community Response team members. Please see the pages for Disaster Recovery Centers and Community Response for more information on the duties and responsibilities for these positions.
Is disaster housing assistance available to everyone following a disaster?
All survivors with disaster-related damage to their homes should apply for federal assistance. Individuals and families who either own or rent their home may be eligible for housing needs assistance. Eligibility determinations are made once it is verified that the pre-disaster primary residence is unlivable or that the resident is no longer living there because of the disaster. If a resident has insurance, he or she must first seek assistance through their insurance company. If a resident does not have insurance or if insurance does not cover the entirety of the damage, a resident may then be considered for housing assistance.
The following must be true for eligibility:
- A resident has losses in an area that has received a federal declaration of disaster from the president.
- A resident has filed for insurance benefits and the damage to his or her property is not covered by insurance or the insurance settlement is insufficient to meet the losses.
- A resident or someone who lives with the resident is a citizen of the United States, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.
- The home in the disaster area is the resident’s primary residence and where the resident is living at the time of the disaster.
- The resident is unable to live in the home, he or she cannot get to the home due to the disaster, or the home requires repairs due to the damage from the disaster.
A survivor may not be eligible for housing needs assistance if:
- A survivor has adequate rent-free housing that he or she can use (e.g. rental property that is not occupied).
- The home that was damaged is a secondary or vacation residence.
- Expenses resulted only from leaving the home as a precaution and he or she was able to return to the home immediately after the incident.
- He or she has refused assistance from his or her insurance provider(s).
- The only losses are business losses (including farm business other than the farmhouse and self-employment) or items not covered by this program.
DISASTER HOUSING ASSISTANCE
Disaster Housing assistance is rendered to eligible applicants whose primary residence is destroyed, uninhabitable, inaccessible, and/or unavailable. Regardless of income, programs may be available to help disaster survivors address their needs for temporary housing and home repairs. The kinds of help provided depend on the applicant’s circumstances and unmet disaster-related needs.
If a home is uninhabitable due to a disaster, what are the types of aid for which a resident may be eligible?
Temporary Housing Assistance is available to rent a different temporary home. If rental properties are not available, the government may provide a housing unit.
Repair: Assistance is available to homeowners to repair disaster-related damage to their primary residence that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to make the damaged home safe, sanitary and functional.
Replacement: Assistance is available to homeowners to replace a home destroyed in the disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to help the homeowner with the cost of replacing their destroyed home.
What types of assistance are available once a resident is eligible for disaster temporary housing ?
After insurance, one of the major sources of assistance will come from FEMA’s Individuals and Household Program (IHP), which provides temporary help in the form of alternative housing and financial assistance for other needs. Individuals and families may be eligible for:
Lodging Expense Reimbursement (Transitional Sheltering Assistance):
Lodging Expense Reimbursement is an extension of sheltering, though it does not include meals. Reimbursements may be provided for eligible hotel/motel expenses incurred due to the declared disaster.
Rental assistance provides homeowners with an initial three months rent. Renters may receive funds for two months, while repairs are being made to make their homes livable. Homeowners or renters will receive a check for short-term rental assistance based on the fair market rates in their area. Applicants who must remain in temporary housing for a longer period than the assistance covers may request additional assistance until their homes can be reoccupied or other permanent housing arrangements can be made.
Government Provided Direct Housing (Manufactured Housing):
Direct housing in the form of mobile homes, travel trailers, and park model units is another form of temporary housing that can be used to augment temporary housing needs. Such homes are moved to or near the disaster site and set up. Used as a last resort, FEMA provides temporary disaster housing units when all other resources-- including rental units-- are unavailable.
Financial assistance may be available if there is a loss of job and/or business because of a disaster. Applicants affected meet the criteria if they (1) are not able to make their mortgage payments as a result of disaster-related financial hardship (e.g. loss of income) and (2) have received a written foreclosure notice or notice of intent to foreclose from their mortgage lender. The mortgage assistance program is intended to provide emergency assistance to survivors who, without such assistance, would be dispossessed from their primary residence.
What type of individual assistance is available in a disaster?
Insurance is the primary source of recovery from a disaster. If a survivor is uninsured or underinsured, available assistance will depend on the scope and magnitude of the disaster. If the event is not federally declared, assistance may be available from state agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and members of Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD). If the event is severe enough to warrant a Presidential Disaster Declaration for Individual Assistance, two primary federal programs offer disaster assistance:
- FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides money and direct services to those affected by a major disaster. Requirements must be met to qualify for help from this program.
- The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest loans for damage to the property of homeowners, renters, businesses and private non-profit organizations that are not fully covered by insurance. SBA’s Administrator may issue an SBA-only declaration based on at least 25 homes and/or businesses that sustained at least 40% uninsured or underinsured property damage.
Should a survivor make repairs to damaged property or wait until all inspections have been completed?
A survivor should begin by making temporary repairs needed to prevent further damage only. Insurance adjusters generally must see the damages to evaluate the loss. A survivor should take pictures of the damage and keep all of the receipts for materials used in emergency repairs. After the insurance adjuster has seen all damages and the survivor has documented all damage with photographs, necessary repairs can then begin.
What should a survivor do if he or she does not know the name of his or her insurance company?
If a survivor does not know the name of his or her insurance company, the survivor should contact his or her insurance agent, who should have a copy of the survivor’s policy with all pertinent information. If the survivor does not have an agent, or the agent cannot be reached, the survivor should check with his or her mortgage lender. A survivor’s bank may also have records of pertinent insurance information. The survivor should check bank records for canceled checks or records of electronic payments. If the survivor used a credit card or check card to pay the premium, check those records as well.
When should I report my claim to my insurance company?
You should report your claim as soon as possible.
I was required to evacuate my home. I have had no damage. Will my insurance company pay for the cost of my temporary housing?
Most homeowner's policies provide Additional Living Expense (ALE) coverage when the policyholder is required to leave their home by order of civil authority during a disaster, but you need to check the type of coverage you have under your specific policy. If you do not have a copy of your policy, contact your agent or company to find out if you are covered.
I did not have renter's insurance. Will my landlord's policy cover my personal property?
Unfortunately, the answer is no, unless the landlord specifically named you in his/her policy as a covered insured. You may wish to seek assistance from one of the agencies that provide funds for uninsured or underinsured losses.
Where can I get information about flood insurance?
Call a local, licensed casualty or property insurance agent or call the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-800-427-4661.
FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY (FEMA) ASSISTANCE
FEMA told me to send in my receipts. What is the mailing address?
Please mail all correspondences to the following address:
Mail: FEMA - Individual and Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055
Fax it to: 1-800-827-8112
Write your name, social security number, disaster number and registration number on all pages of your document and keep a copy for your own records.
What should I do with my receipts for damage repairs?
Keep all receipts for repairs and file the loss with the IRS on your income tax return. FEMA also requires that receipts be kept for at least 3 years, because they are subject to audit if you received a FEMA assistance grant.
What happens if I register more than once for disaster assistance over the internet?
Completing more than one registration in a single disaster will delay the processing of your case. If you have suffered damage caused by two separate disasters, you may register for each. Be sure to select the correct disaster when registering
I received a check from FEMA. What can I use the money for?FEMA sends you money to meet your housing and personal property needs related to the disaster. You will receive a letter from FEMA telling you what the money covers. Be sure to read the "Help After a Disaster: Applicant's Guide to the Individuals and Households Program"
Are insurance deductibles covered under FEMA's programs?
FEMA does not cover insurance deductibles. If your insurance settlement does not meet you disaster-related needs you may be eligible for assistance from FEMA.
What documents does FEMA want from my insurance company?
If you apply for help from FEMA because your insurance does not cover all of your disaster related needs, you need to write a letter to FEMA explaining your situation and include a copy of a settlement or denial letter from your insurance company. FEMA cannot duplicate any insurance coverage.
My insurance company told me it would be weeks before they come to see my damages. Can FEMA help?
If a decision on your insurance settlement has been delayed longer than 30 days from the time you filed the claim you may be eligible for an insurance advancement from FEMA. These funds are considered a loan and must be repaid to FEMA once you receive your settlement from your insurance company. Contact FEMA if your insurance settlement is delayed. FEMA will send you a Request for Advancement and Signature letter. You must complete and return this letter before FEMA can evaluate your request for assistance.
I had damages to my farm or ranch. Can FEMA help me?
If you sustained damages to your home or personal property, you should apply with FEMA for assistance. If you had damages to your crops, livestock, farm equipment, barns, dairy, etc., you should contact your local Farm Services Agency office to inquire about the USDA's disaster assistance program.
Will FEMA help me pay my utility bills?
No, FEMA cannot pay utility bills. However, local charitable organizations may be able to help for a short period. We suggest you contact the Red Cross or your local United Way office for a referral to a local agency that may be able to help.
I lost my food because of the power outage; will I be reimbursed for it?
FEMA's disaster assistance program does not cover food losses. Voluntary organizations in the disaster area may be able to help you with a hot meal or other immediate needs for food.
I purchased a generator. Will I be reimbursed?
FEMA reviews requests for reimbursement of the cost of a generator on a case-by-case basis and determines if a generator was purchased to overcome a disaster-related hardship, injury, or adverse condition. You should register and submit your receipts to see if the cost will be covered.
Do I have a right to appeal?
Yes, any person who has had their application for assistance denied by
FEMA has a right to appeal. However, you should only appeal after you have completed all of the FEMA application processes, such as filing for an SBA Loan and seeking reimbursement from your insurance company. If all of the FEMA application requirements have been satisfied and FEMA denies your application, you may then appeal the denial.
How do I appeal?
Send a letter to FEMA explaining why you believe the decision about the amount or type of assistance you received is incorrect. You, or someone who represents you or your household, should sign the letter. Include the FEMA registration number and disaster number (shown at the top of your decision letter) in your letter of appeal.
You may send your letter in one of two ways:
(1) Mail your appeal letter and/or appeal form to:
FEMA – Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055
(2) Fax your appeal letter and/or appeal form to:
Attention: FEMA – Individuals & Households Program
Appeals must be in writing and mailed within 60 days of FEMA's decision.
Can someone else fill out my appeal form for me?
If the person writing the letter and/or submitting the appeal form is not a member of your household, then the request must also contain a statement signed by you giving that person authorization to act for you. For example, you might sign a statement that says, “I represent the household referenced by FEMA registration number _____, and _____ [name of person completing form or letter] is authorized to act for me.”
What is the deadline for filing an appeal?
All appeals must be postmarked within sixty (60) days of the date of the decision letter denying your FEMA application.
How long will it take to hear back from FEMA after I submit my appeal form?
You should be notified by mail of the response to your appeal within approximately thirty (30) days from the date FEMA receives your appeal letter. However, this estimate may be inaccurate if the magnitude of the event results in abnormally high volumes of appeals.
How can I check on the status of my appeal?
FEMA has implemented an “Automated Status Update” function for those who have registered for assistance. Dial 1-800-621-3362, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and follow a series of voice-activated prompts to access information about your personal registration, eligibility status, financial compensation, the appeal process and other information.
U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA) ASSISTANCE
Why am I being referred to the SBA?
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is the primary source of federal funds for long-term recovery assistance for disaster victims. The SBA has low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters and non-farm businesses to cover disaster damage to real and personal property.
Does the SBA make loans to individual or just businesses?
The SBA can loan money to homeowners, renters, and business owners. Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for disaster related home repairs. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged personal property including vehicles. The SBA may not duplicate benefits from your insurance or FEMA. You may receive an SBA referral when you apply with FEMA.
How do I reach the SBA Hotline?
The SBA has loan officers in the Disaster Recovery Centers to provide face-to-face service to disaster victims. You may visit the SBA at any of these locations without an appointment. A SBA representative will be glad to answer questions and help complete your application. To find out where the SBA disaster offices are located an applicant can call the SBA toll-free at 1-800-659-2955.
I applied for FEMA assistance, why did I receive an SBA loan application?
If you get a SBA Disaster Loan application in the mail, you must complete and return the application to be considered for a loan as well as certain types of grant assistance through FEMA. SBA representatives are available at Disaster Recovery Centers to help you with the application. If the SBA finds that you cannot afford a loan they will automatically refer you to FEMA's Individuals and Households grant program for help.
I have not been able to work since the hurricane hit. My employer says that I still have a job, but I am not drawing a paycheck. Does FEMA pay for lost wages?
If you lost work because of the disaster you may qualify for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). Contact the local office of your State's Employment Commission for information about DUA.
What do I do if FEMA and SBA cannot cover some of my immediate needs?
Contact your local emergency management office or your local Long Term Recovery Organization. They should be able to offer guidance or refer you to the appropriate assistance agency.
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