Commonly Asked Questions about Applying for Federal Disaster Assistance: Pt 1

Q: How do I apply for assistance?

A: The quickest way to apply for federal assistance is online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov. Survivors may also apply by phone at 800-621-3362 (Voice, 711 or video relay) or 800-462-7585 (TTY), 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (EST) seven days a week, until further notice. The application deadline is Nov. 9, 2017.

Q:  I sustained hurricane damage and have private home insurance and flood insurance.  Should I still register with FEMA?

A:  Yes. Please contact your insurance company first. Insurance is the primary source of money to put lives, homes and businesses back in order after a disaster. Contact your insurance company, and if you are insured through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), call 800-427-4661 to speak to your flood insurance agent. Although you have insurance, you should still register with FEMA because you may have unmet needs after receiving a settlement.

Q:  I’ve already cleaned up and repaired my property. Am I still eligible to register with FEMA?

A:  Yes. You may be eligible for reimbursement for clean-up, repair and other expenses. Taking both before and after photos of the damaged property can help expedite your application for assistance and should be available at the time of your FEMA housing inspection.

Q: Does my income need to be under a certain dollar amount to qualify for disaster aid?

A: No. FEMA’s Housing Assistance program is available, regardless of income, to anyone who suffered damage or losses in disaster-declared counties. To be considered for other types of grants that cover losses such as personal property, vehicle repair or replacement and moving and storage expenses, you must apply for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan first. Homeowners and renters who don’t qualify for an SBA loan may be referred to FEMA for consideration of additional grant assistance.

Q: I am a renter. Can I get help to replace my damaged personal property?

A: Yes. If you rent in a disaster-designated Florida county, you may qualify for a grant for uninsured losses. In addition to personal property, grants may pay for medical and dental bills related to the disaster. Renters also may qualify for SBA low-interest disaster loans.

Q. As a college student, can I get disaster assistance?

A: Yes. If you are enrolled at a college or university in a Florida disaster-designated county, you may qualify for a grant. You do not need to be a permanent resident, but your damage or losses must have occurred in a disaster-designated county as a result of Hurricane Irma. In addition to personal property, grants may pay for medical and dental bills related to the disaster. Students may also qualify for low-interest SBA disaster loans.

Q: What types of FEMA grants are available?

A: FEMA assistance may include grants for rent, temporary housing, home repairs to a primary residence, uninsured or underinsured personal property losses, replacement or repair of a primary vehicle and medical, dental and funeral costs and other disaster-related expenses.

Q: Will FEMA pay for all home repairs and contract work?

A: No. FEMA does not pay to return your home to its pre-disaster condition. FEMA provides grants to qualified homeowners to repair damage not covered by insurance to make the home habitable, safe, sanitary and secure. However, a U.S. Small Business Administration low-interest disaster loan may provide the means to return a home to its pre-disaster condition.

Q: Do I have to repay the money I receive in grants for assistance?

A: No. You do not have to repay grant money. But save your receipts: you will have to return money that was not spent, was spent improperly or for which you have no receipts. Unlike grants, Small Business Administration loans must be repaid.

Q: How can I check the status of my case after I register?

A: You may go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or call the toll-free FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. If you need face-to-face assistance, visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). All DRCs are accessible and equipped with tools to accommodate disaster survivors who need disability-related communication aids.

Q: How will I find out whether I qualify for assistance?

A: FEMA will send you, either by mail or email (based on your preference), a determination letter. Read it carefully. The letter will explain the type and amount of help to be provided and identify any registration problems that need to be addressed. If your home or its contents were damaged, a home inspection will be required to process your application.

Q: What if I want to appeal FEMA’s decision or a mistake has been made?

A: All Floridians who applied for disaster assistance have the right to appeal FEMA’s determination. Appeals may relate to eligibility, the amount or type of help provided, late applications, requests to return funds or further help. Appeals must be in writing and mailed within 60 days of receiving FEMA’s determination letter. If you believe a mistake has been made, let FEMA know right away by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585) or visiting a Disaster Recovery Center.

Source: FEMA.gov

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