Frequently Asked Questions About Disasters

This page offers answers to frequently asked questions about Individual Assistance for disaster survivors.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

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Can FEMA reimburse me for my lodging expenses?

FEMA may be able to provide reimbursement for out-of-pocket lodging expenses that are not covered by insurance benefits such as additional living expenses or loss of use. The survivor’s pre-disaster primary residence must be unlivable, inaccessible or affected by an extended disaster-caused utility outage to be considered.

I have insurance, can I still get reimbursed for my lodging expenses?

By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits of insurance. Insurance policies may include Additional Living Expenses or Loss of Use coverage, which is a benefit that provides supplemental money to cover increased costs, including temporary housing, when you are unable to live in your home due to a loss covered by insurance.

Lodging Expense Reimbursement (LER) from FEMA may only be considered if an applicant has not received lodging assistance from any other source (e.g., voluntary organization) for the same dates the applicant is requesting LER.

Will FEMA pay my rent and utilities?

The amount provided for temporary rental assistance covers the monthly rent including essential utilities. It doesn’t include phone, cable, TV or internet service. Money for utilities is not provided separately from the rent amount but is included in the total award.

Will FEMA pay insurance deductibles for disaster survivors?

FEMA provides financial benefits to eligible applicants who are not insured or underinsured, but those benefits occur after an insurance settlement. Disaster assistance may include financial assistance for temporary lodging and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. FEMA can't duplicate benefits from insurance or pay your deductible.

Can I apply for assistance with FEMA if I am a renter?

Yes, renters may apply for disaster assistance with FEMA. If you have renter’s insurance, you should call your insurance provider to file a claim. If you are insured, you must provide information from your insurance which may include a declaration page and a settlement or denial.

As a renter, what types of help could I be eligible for?

Grants may be available to rent or pay for a different place to live for a limited time while repairs are made to your rental home or until it is livable. Rental grants may be used for security deposits, rent and the cost of essential utilities, such as gas and water. The grants may not be used to pay for separate cable or internet bills.

Can I use my rental assistance grant to stay in a hotel/motel?

The funds can be used to stay in another temporary place to live, which includes a hotel/motel. The rental assistance grant is equivalent to the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for the area the primary home is located in.

My personal property was damaged, is there financial help available for my losses?

Assistance is available for eligible survivors, including renters, with uninsured and underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs.

Renters may also qualify for assistance for essential personal property and other disaster-related expenses. These may include replacement or repair of necessary personal property, such as furniture, appliances, clothing, textbooks or school supplies; replacement or repair of tools and other job-related equipment; vehicle repair; and medical/dental bills.

Does help from FEMA have to be paid back?

No. Grants are not loans, and don’t have to be repaid. They are not taxable income and won’t affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Is Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) the same as rental assistance?

TSA is a FEMA program that is approved for eligible disasters. It allows for temporary, short-term lodging at a participating hotel/motel, that FEMA pays for directly. Survivors may not request TSA. Those who are eligible will be contacted by FEMA about their eligibility.

Last updated September 27, 2022