Misunderstandings Can Mean Some Miss out on Disaster Assistance

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Release date: 
July 14, 2008
Release Number: 
1770-021

Lincoln, Neb. -- Nebraskans who suffered losses because of recent storms and tornadoes may be misled by half-truths and rumors about who can apply for help. The Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offer a list of statements that seem to make sense, or sound as if they are true, but are myths:

I have insurance, so there's no other help available to me.

Not True: Insurance is your first and main source of funds after a disaster. However, insurance does not cover everything. That's where federal and state disaster programs may help. You may register with FEMA even before the insurance adjuster visits. Many victims find they are ?underinsured? and disaster assistance may help make up the difference.

I received disaster assistance before, so I'm not eligible for help now.

Not True: Even if you received disaster assistance funds before, you can register again for help.

I don't want to apply with FEMA for assistance because the money I receive may come out of my Social Security check.

Not True: Assistance funds do not come out of Social Security funds and will not affect your monthly Social Security check.

There may not be enough money for everyone, and my neighbor needs the money more than I do.

Not True: There are enough disaster funds to take care of every eligible applicant.

I have to wait for my insurance adjuster before I apply for disaster assistance.

Not True: You do not have to wait for an agent or adjuster's inspection before applying for disaster assistance or repairing your home so that it is safe, secure and functional. However, if you have insurance, you should find out what your policy covers and be sure to keep papers and receipts for any work. If you still have unmet disaster-related needs, you should call FEMA to apply. You may want to take photos of the damage.

I already repaired my home. It's too late to apply.

Not True: You can apply for reimbursement of expenses not covered by your insurance. Keep all receipts for disaster-related repairs.

I got help from the Red Cross, so I can't get help from FEMA or the State.

Not True: FEMA and the State of Nebraska coordinate a number of programs to help disaster victims. These programs are different from the emergency food, clothing and shelter initially provided by the Red Cross and other voluntary agencies.

I got help from the Red Cross, so I'm already registered with FEMA.

Not True: Registering with the Red Cross or local and county officials is not the same as applying with FEMA. For federal and state disaster assistance, you must apply by calling the special toll-free application number: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech and hearing impaired.

I have to be poor to qualify for disaster aid.

Not True: Federal and state disaster assistance programs may be available to those who suffered damage, regardless of income. The programs are not welfare. The kinds of help provided depend on the applicant's circumstances and unmet needs.

I don't have to fill out the SBA application FEMA sent me because I don't own a business.

Not True: The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which handles low-interest disaster loans for both individuals and businesses is an important source of financial assistance. Renters and home and business owners may be eligible for low-interest disaster loans for home or personal property losses not fully covered by insurance. If your SBA application shows you are not qualified for a loan, you may be eligible for a FEMA grant to handle certain needs. But it is necessary to fill out and return the SBA application.

Since I'm self-employed I can't qualify for disaster unemployment benefits although I'm out of work;

Not True: Disaster Unemployment Assistance, funded by FEMA and administer...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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