Common Misunderstandings Could Delay or Limit Your Assistance

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Release date: 
January 24, 2012
Release Number: 
4042-031

MIDLOTHIAN, Va. -- Virginia's earthquake declaration has spanned five months and much of central Virginia.  News outlets in and around the disaster area diligently spread the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) message, but often residents hear second-hand information, rumors and half-truths about how to get access to the assistance programs available. When residents suffer losses they need accurate information.

Answers to some common questions about disaster assistance:

I already repaired my home, can I still apply?
Yes. By registering, you could still be eligible for essential disaster related repairs or to help with needs not covered by your insurance. It is helpful to take photos and save your receipts and records.

If I accept aid from FEMA will I lose my Social Security assistance?
No. Earthquake survivors who receive disaster assistance from the FEMA will not lose their Social Security assistance nor have any assistance cut as a result of FEMA disaster assistance. FEMA disaster assistance is not taxable income.

Are only low-income residents qualified for disaster assistance?
No. Federal and state disaster assistance programs may be available to those who suffered damage, regardless of income. The types of help provided depend on the applicant's circumstances and unmet disaster-related needs.

If I registered with my county emergency manager, am I registered with FEMA?
No. You still need to call the special toll-free registration number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585, if you use 711-Relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362 or go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov. Phone lines are open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. EST, seven days a week, or apply online anytime at www.fema.gov.

If I receive assistance will my neighbor who has a greater need than mine have their assistance limited?
No. Once a disaster is declared all residents have equal access to all of FEMA's assistance. The factors that determine grant amounts are directly related to an individual resident's type and severity of damage.

Do I have to pay to register with FEMA?
No. Registration with FEMA is encouraged and has no cost. To receive FEMA assistance one must first register with FEMA.

Does FEMA charge for inspections?
No. Once a resident registers with FEMA and reports earthquake damage a FEMA inspector will call and schedule a visual inspection of all damage.  If a FEMA inspector sees evidence that would suggest damage to a chimney or well, then a resident will receive, as part of an initial grant, money to have inspections performed by state licensed contractors. If earthquake damage is identified by the licensed contractor an appeal can be made to FEMA for additional assistance to cover these repair costs.

Do I need to make an appointment at the Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) to apply for assistance?
No.  Appointments are not necessary at FEMA DRCs to get more information. You can register or ask for assistance anytime the DRC is open.  If you need additional assistance, disaster specialists at the DRC can help. Once the DRC closes, you may call FEMA at 800-621-FEMA (3362) to register or ask questions.

May I still visit the DRC once I have registered with FEMA?
Yes. Experienced and helpful FEMA representatives are at DRCs to assist and provide additional information. U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) representatives are available to help you apply for low-interest disaster loans for homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private non-profit organizations. Information about assistance from other federal, state and volunteer organizations is also ...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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