FEMA helps survivors keep their spending on track by sending a determination letter stating what the funds are for and listing the ways the money can be used. Disaster grants are not for regular living expenses.
Some examples of approved expenses include:
- Home repairs (e.g., structure, water, septic and sewage systems)
- Rental assistance for rent and/or deposit
- Repair or replacement of an essential vehicle
- Medical or dental care for an uninsured injury caused by the disaster
- Necessary educational materials (e.g., computers, schoolbooks, supplies)
- Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster
- Replacement of essential personal property such as appliances or bed from an occupied bedroom
- Increased childcare expenses
It’s important to read the determination letter carefully. Receipts for all expenses should be kept for at least three years, as disaster funding may be subject to audit. 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.
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. Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their specific number assigned to that service.