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FAQ: Setting the Record Straight on FEMA Assistance for Hurricane Ida-NY

Release Date:
November 19, 2021

Residents of the Bronx, Dutchess, Kings, Nassau, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties who had damage or losses as a direct result of Hurricane Ida have until Monday, Dec. 6, to apply to FEMA for disaster assistance.

Here are answers to your top Frequently Asked Questions this week

Q: What documents will I need to apply for FEMA disaster assistance?

A: Save time in filling out your application by having this information at hand:

  • Your name and Social Security Number 
  • Name and SSN of any secondary or co-applicant
  • Your current and pre-disaster address
  • Names of all occupants of the pre-disaster household
  • Your current contact information
  • Types of insurance held by the household
  • Household pre-disaster annual gross income
  • Losses caused by the disaster
  • Banking information for direct deposit of financial assistance, if requested.

Q: What does FEMA consider a household? Do we all have to be blood relatives?

A: Every adult and child who lived in the home before the disaster is a member of your household, even if they are not related. A child who lives with you but is away at school is also counted as a member of your household. Each household needs to complete only one application with FEMA for disaster assistance.

Q. What if I have a tenant who is renting a room and not part of the family?

A: A tenant renting a room or separate unit within your home may apply separately if the tenant can show he or she has a commercial relationship with you. In other words, the tenant must have a current written lease or housing agreement that was in effect before the disaster.

Q. Will I have to pay taxes on the money I receive from FEMA?

A: FEMA assistance is not considered income and is not taxable. It will not affect your eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.

Q. Can I take a vacation with my FEMA money?

A: Absolutely not. Your FEMA determination letter will outline how you can use the funds you receive. Misuse of your FEMA disaster grant is a federal crime that could result in prison, a fine, or both. To anonymously report the misuse of FEMA funds, call 866-720-5721 or email StopFEMAFraud@fema.dhs.gov.

Q. What information do I need to save to document my disaster-related expenses?

A: Keep a paper trail. Save any receipts you have for disaster-related expenses including repair estimates, contracts, bills and payments that are directly related to your disaster-caused damage. Store these documents in a safe place and keep them for at least three years.

Q: Do I need to wait for FEMA to inspect my home before I begin repairs?

A: No. Do not wait for a FEMA inspection before beginning repairs. First, file a claim with your insurance company then apply for FEMA assistance. If you have no insurance or your insurance coverage is not enough to make your home safe, livable and functional, FEMA may be able to help. Send copies of your insurance documents; coverage, settlement and/or determination letter to FEMA, and save any receipts, contracts and estimates for repair of disaster-caused damage to show to the FEMA inspector. The inspector will advise you to send them to FEMA.

Q: I already applied for FEMA assistance. Will FEMA reimburse me for the costs of cleaning up my apartment after Hurricane Ida?

A: Homeowners and renters who are approved for FEMA disaster assistance may be eligible for a one-time payment to address minimal damage the storm inflicted on the home, eliminate potential safety concerns and prevent additional losses.

Q. FEMA referred me to the U.S. Small Business Administration, but I can’t afford a loan. What should I do?

A: If you applied to FEMA for disaster assistance and were referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration, it is important that you complete and submit the SBA loan application. If you are approved for a loan, you don’t have to accept it. After you apply, SBA will determine if you should be referred back to FEMA to be considered for its Other Needs Assistance, which includes replacement of essential household items and other disaster-related expenses. For more information, call the SBA Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or email DisasterCustomerService@sba.gov.

Q. I own and live in a condo. Am I eligible for FEMA assistance?

A: If you reside in one of the nine counties designated for federal disaster assistance for Ida and the damage to your unit was not covered by insurance, you may be eligible for certain kinds of help from FEMA. First, file a claim with your insurance company then apply to FEMA. Send copies of your insurance coverage, settlement, or determination letter to FEMA. The agency will review your information and determine what types of assistance you may qualify for. Eligible disaster-caused damage may include fixtures, installations, plumbing and appliances within your unit.

Q. The apartment I rent is undergoing repairs from Hurricane Ida damage and I can no longer live there. Will FEMA help me pay for a temporary place to live?

A: If your apartment is in one of the nine counties designated for disaster assistance for Ida, you may be eligible for a FEMA grant for rental assistance. That award can help with the cost of security deposits, rent and necessary utilities such as electric and gas while your apartment is being repaired.

With the approaching deadline to apply for FEMA disaster assistance, here’s how you can apply

  • Visit DisasterAssistance.gov, use the FEMA mobile app or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. If you use video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, give FEMA the number for that service. Lines are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Press 2 for Spanish. Press 3 for an interpreter who speaks your language.
  • Visit a Disaster Recovery Center and meet with FEMA staff and representatives of other federal and state agencies who can provide information about disaster assistance. Here is the direct link to New York’s Disaster Recovery Centers: https://www.fema.gov/locations/new%20york#drc.

For additional online resources as well as FEMA downloadable pamphlets and other aids, visit DisasterAssistance.gov and click “Information.”

For the latest information on New York’s recovery efforts, visit fema.gov/disaster/4615. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/FEMARegion2 and on Facebook at facebook.com/fema.

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Last updated November 19, 2021