Tell your friends and neighbors who have not registered for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that the last day to register is May 1, 2013. Make sure they know the facts about FEMA registration; many Hurricane Sandy survivors are eligible for disaster assistance and just may not know it.
With about two weeks left to register, here are facts about FEMA assistance:
- FEMA assistance does NOT affect benefits from other federal programs, such as Social Security benefits, taxes, food stamps or Medicaid.
- FEMA assistance is available for renters; it is not exclusive to homeowners.
- FEMA provides grants; it does not make loans. These grants do NOT have to be repaid, and they are NOT considered taxable income.
- You may be eligible for reimbursement for repairs to your home, even if the repairs are already completed.
- You may be eligible for FEMA assistance even if you have flood or homeowner’s insurance.
- Income is NOT a consideration for eligibility for FEMA assistance.
- A grant you may receive does not take away from another survivor’s assistance; FEMA has sufficient funding to assist all eligible survivors with their eligible disaster-related needs.
- There is no paperwork to register with FEMA; the process normally takes between 15 and 20 minutes.
The rule of thumb is that if you’re unsure if you are eligible for assistance, call 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) or go to
DisasterAssistance.gov. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY, call 1-800-462-7585 directly. If using 711 or Video Relay Service, call 1-800-621-3362.
Although the assistance process may continue after the deadline, May 1 will be the last day to call or go online to register for FEMA and apply for SBA physical damage disaster assistance.
FEMA grants cover expenses for temporary housing, home repairs, replacement of damaged personal property and other disaster-related needs such as medical, dental or transportation costs not covered by insurance or other programs. The objective is to make damaged dwellings safe, sanitary and functional.
Some applicants may receive a loan application for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) after registering with FEMA. The SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to renters, homeowners and businesses of all sizes. No one is obligated to take out a loan, but if they don’t complete the application they may not be considered for other federal grant programs.
The SBA may lend up to $200,000 to repair or replace homes and up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Also, up to $2 million is available for businesses for their uncompensated disaster losses.
For more information about the SBA, call the SBA Customer Service Center from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EDT) Monday through Friday, at 1-800-659-2955. Survivors may apply online at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela. Applicants also may visit the SBA Web site at sba.gov/services/disasterassistance or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials want to encourage those residents who may be hesitant to register for disaster assistance. Federal taxes are appropriated specifically to fund disaster assistance. Also, the assistance one individual may receive will not take away from another applicant's federal assistance funds.