FEMA Disaster Assistance: What You Should Know
FEMA is a disaster assistance program from the Federal government, intended to meet survivors’ basic needs and help them on their way to recovery. Assistance may include grants (money that does not need to be repaid) for rent, temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster related needs. If a natural disaster has resulted in property damage or loss, you should register/apply for FEMA assistance, even if you have insurance.
The Registration Process
You can register at a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center, online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, via the FEMA app or by calling 800-621-3362. Typically, registration takes about 20 minutes and FEMA takes a few days to process an application. You’ll receive a nine-digit registration number that you should keep on hand in case you need to update your application with any new information. When registering with FEMA, you must provide:
· Social security number
· Address of the location where damage occurred
· Current mailing address
· Current telephone number
· Insurance information
· Total household annual income
· Routing and account number for your checking or savings account (for direct transfer of your FEMA assistance funds)
· A description of your disaster-caused damage and losses
In some cases you may be required to submit a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan application before FEMA can determine your eligibility for assistance. You may not be considered for FEMA grants unless the SBA loan application is completed so if you’re asked to complete a SBA loan application, don’t hesitate. To learn more about SBA loans check out the SBA Disaster Loans: What You Should Know document.
What to Expect
Once you register, FEMA will call you to schedule a home inspection. When the inspector arrives, be sure to check his or her official photo identification. As part of the inspection process, you must provide a valid driver’s license or other photo ID as well as proof of ownership or occupancy. Homeowners may show a tax bill, mortgage payment receipt or insurance policy with the property’s address. Renters may show a lease, rent receipt, utility bill or other document confirming the home was their primary residence at the time of the disaster. After registering for assistance, you’ll receive a decision letter regarding the status of your application and how you should respond. If you qualify for a grant you’ll receive a check from FEMA, by mail or direct deposit, and a letter describing how you are to use the money. If you don’t qualify for a grant, you’ll receive a letter explaining why you did not qualify and an opportunity to appeal the decision. In some cases you may be asked to provide additional information, so don’t be discouraged if this happens. If you need help understanding your decision letter visit a Disaster Recovery Center or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362.