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Your FEMA grant is solely for disaster expenses; use it wisely and well

Release Date:
April 5, 2021

Disaster recovery officials remind survivors who may have received FEMA disaster funds that it’s important to use the money for the intended purpose – disaster-related expenses - and not for household expenses or other expenditures.

FEMA will help by sending a determination letter telling you what the money is being awarded for and listing the ways the money can be used.

How do I know what that purpose is? 

Some examples include:

  • Home repairs (e.g., structure, water, septic and sewage systems)
  • Rental assistance for rent and/or deposit
  • Repair or replacement of a flooded essential vehicle
  • Medical or dental care for an uninsured injury caused by the disaster
  • Repair of occupational specialized tools
  • Necessary educational materials (e.g., computers, schoolbooks, supplies)
  • Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster
  • Increased childcare expenses

Disaster grants are not for regular living expenses.

It’s important to read the determination letter carefully.  If you have spent the payment on anything other than its intended purpose, you may be denied disaster assistance in the future. In some cases, FEMA will ask that the money be returned. Receipts for all expenses are required and should be retained for at least three years because disaster funding may be subject to audit.

In addition, it’s important for applicants to make sure that FEMA has their most up-to-date contact information, including addresses, phone numbers and bank accounts. If FEMA does not have the correct contact information, survivors may miss letters or phone calls about their application for assistance or payment status.

For any questions, call the FEMA Helpline, 800-621-3362. TTY users can call 800-462-7585.

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Last updated April 5, 2021