FEMA Disaster Assistance

General Overview

What is a Disaster Recovery Center and What Services do They Provide?

A Disaster Recovery Center is an accessible facility or mobile office where applicants may go for information about FEMA and other disaster assistance programs. Applicants may also ask questions related to their individual FEMA case.

To locate the nearest Disaster Recovery Center, text “DRC” and your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA). You may also call the FEMA Helpline or visit the FEMA website.

What is FEMA Public Assistance?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an umbrella organization that coordinates state and federal government benefits for disaster victims. When FEMA issues a Public Assistance disaster declaration, it makes federal funding available to:

  • The state;
  • Local governments;
  • Indian Tribal governments and Alaska Native villages; and
  • Certain private nonprofit organizations that provide services of a governmental nature.

At present, governmental and nonprofit entities in eighteen Colorado counties are eligible to receive flood-related Public Assistance: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, Crowley, Denver, El Paso, Fremont, Gilpin, Jefferson, Lake, Larimer, Lincoln, Logan, Morgan, Sedgwick, Washington and Weld. Through the Public Assistance program, FEMA provides funds for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged, publicly owned facilities and the facilities of certain Private Non-Profit (PNP) organizations.

To learn more, please visit the Public Assistance Overview on the FEMA website.

What is FEMA Individual Assistance?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an umbrella organization that coordinates state and federal government benefits for disaster victims.  Disaster assistance to individuals can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, and for other serious disaster-related needs, such as medical and dental expenses or funeral and burial costs. On its website, FEMA defines Individual Assistance in more detail as follows:

  • Assistance to individuals, families and businesses.
  • Assistance for losses that are not covered by insurance.
  • Only available in counties with federally declared disasters.
  • Intended to help with critical expenses, not to restore a property to its condition before a disaster.
  • Mostly in the form of loans administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to home renters, homeowners, and businesses.
  • Some assistance is available through FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program for temporary housing, home repair, replacement, and, in rare instances, permanent or semi-permanent construction.

Additionally, other assistance through FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program may be available for non-housing needs such as medical and dental expenses, funeral and burial expenses, household items, tools required by your job, necessary educational materials, fuel for a primary heat source, clean-up items, disaster-related vehicle damage, and moving and storage related to the disaster.

Who is Eligible to Apply for Individual Assistance from FEMA?

On September 14, 2013, President Obama signed a Major Disaster Declaration regarding the recent Colorado severe storms, flooding, landslides and Mudslides.  Homeowners, renters and business owners in the designated counties who sustained damage as a result of the severe storms, flooding, landslides and mudslides that began on Sept. 11, 2013, may apply for individual assistance from FEMA. Individuals in eleven Colorado counties are now eligible for individual assistance: Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Clear Creek, El Paso, Fremont, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan and Weld.

If people are residents or business owners in the preceding counties but are not U.S. citizens, they may still be eligible for federal disaster assistance as long as they are in the United States legally.  Please see the next FAQ.

How Long Does it Take to Get FEMA Help?

You should be contacted by a FEMA inspector within 10-14 days of application. The inspection will be scheduled as soon as possible, but keep in mind inspectors are often very busy after a disaster and have many homes to inspect. If the inspection shows you have uninsured eligible damage or need to rent housing while displaced from your home, a check can be printed and put in the mail within 2 days of the inspection. If you have chosen to use electronic deposit, the funds are deposited almost immediately after approval. The money often arrives before the official letter explaining the award, which will come in the mail.

Do I Have to Repay the Government for Help I Received?

Under normal circumstances, grants from the Individuals & Households Program do not have to be repaid. Recoupment may occur if the federal government later finds you have misspent the funds allocated (used them for a purpose other than that specified by FEMA), or have received an incorrect amount of funds (either due to fraud or mistake). 44 C.F.R. § 206.116(b). Loans from the Small Business Administration must be repaid. 

Will Receiving Individual Assistance Affect My Taxes or Social Security Benefits?

State and federal disaster assistance is not treated as income and is not taxable. It also does not affect Social Security benefits, nor does it affect a recipient’s eligibility for other federal assistance programs. Based on these guidelines, here are answers to some typically asked questions :

Question: Will receiving a grant cause my income to increase to the point that I am no longer eligible for Medicaid, or food stamps, or Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF).
Answer: No. Grants for housing and Other Needs Assistance are not counted as income in determining eligibility for any income-tested benefit programs that receives U.S. government funds.

Question: I took my Social Security benefits early. If I earn more than a certain amount each year, I must repay $1 of my Social Security payment for every $2 I earn. Will FEMA grants add to my income and require me to repay Social Security?
Answer: No. Again, the IRS does not count FEMA grants for housing and ONA as income.

Question: I’m over 65, but if I earn more than a certain amount, I must pay tax on my Social Security income. Will a FEMA grant boost my income & require me to pay tax on my Social Security income?
Answer: No. Again, the IRS does not count FEMA grants for housing and ONA as income.

To find out more, read the FEMA News Release dated June 6, 2013

I Received an SBA Loan Application in the Mail. I Don’t Own a Business & Wanted a Grant from FEMA, not an SBA Loan. Why did I get this?

The Small Business Administration (SBA) serves an important role in disaster recovery. SBA loans are not just for business owners; homeowners and renters may also benefit from the loans. Interest rates are typically very low, with favorable terms for borrowers. Most FEMA grants are intended to meet immediate, emergency needs and may not cover all of your disaster-related losses. SBA loans are better suited to meet these non-emergency disaster-related needs.

If you receive an SBA loan application, it is very important that you complete and submit it. Even if you are approved, you are under no obligation to accept any loan. After reviewing your application, SBA may determine you are not eligible for a loan and refer you to FEMA. At this stage in the process, you may now be eligible for additional FEMA grant funds. If you fail to complete the loan application, you will miss out on the possibility of these additional grant funds.

The application should take approximately 30 minutes to complete. If you need assistance completing it, you may contact the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955.

Whether FEMA Can Provide Specific Types of Help

Will FEMA Pay my Utility Bills?

No. FEMA cannot pay utility bills. However, local agencies may have funds designated for emergency utility assistance. Contact your local Red Cross or United Way for referral to a local agency. You may reach the United Way by dialing 2-1-1 from any landline phone.

In addition, many utility companies will make special allowances or set up special payment plans after a disaster. Be sure to contact your utility company directly, explain your situation, and inquire about the availability of assistance programs.

I Lost Food Because of the Power Outage. Can FEMA Pay Me for it?

No. FEMA’s disaster assistance program does not cover food loss. Voluntary agencies in your area may be able to assist with immediate food needs.

If you have homeowner’s insurance, it is possible your policy covers food spoilage due to a covered loss: the basic homeowner policy does not, but you may have purchased an additional premium or “rider” to cover this cost. Review your insurance policy or contact your insurance company for more information.

Can FEMA Buy Food for Me?

No, but you may qualify for disaster food assistance. Disaster food assistance is administered by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service through local governments.

Disaster food assistance provides replacement benefits as food assistance for households that lose food, and also extends benefits to many people who would not ordinarily be eligible for food assistance. For more information on disaster food assistance, please visit the USDA website.

 

Can FEMA Help with Debris Removal (Downed Trees & the Like)?

FEMA does not typically pay for cleaning up debris. However, if the debris is keeping you or emergency workers from safely reaching your home, FEMA may be able to provide help. In a large-scale disaster such as the 2013 Colorado floods, debris removal may actually be coordinated by the local city government. Contact local officials to see what assistance is available.

Debris removal may also be covered by your homeowner’s insurance policy. Review your policy or contact your insurance company for more information.

Will FEMA Reimburse Me for the Generator that I Bought?

FEMA will reimburse for generators purchased post-disaster only in very special circumstances. The applicant must first be eligible for FEMA assistance. Second, the generator must be purchased or rented to power a medically required appliance or piece of equipment. Third, the generator must be purchased or rented on or after the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency up to the end of the incident period or the date power is restored to the applicant’s home, whichever occurs first.

You will need to send FEMA copy of the proof of purchase or rental receipts for the generator, and proof the appliance or equipment in question is required for medical purposes (for example, a letter from a physician on letterhead explaining the medical need for the appliance or equipment).

You may send the above information to:

FEMA Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055

You may also fax the above information to: 1-800-827-8112.

However you choose to send it, be sure to also include your name, the last four digits of your Social Security number, the disaster number (DR-4145), and your FEMA registration number. Please ensure this information appears on all pages of your correspondence, and keep a copy for your records.

I Lost My Job Because of the Disaster and May Lose My Housing Because of Lost Income. Will FEMA Make Payments Until I Can Return to Work?

No, FEMA cannot make mortgage or rent payments on your behalf. If your job was affected by the disaster, you may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance.  Information about Disaster Unemployment Assistance can be found at http://www.fema.gov/additional-assistance.

Will FEMA Pay for Lost Wages? I Haven’t Been Able to Work Since the Disaster.

You may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA). DUA provides temporary benefits to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster, and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits.

Direct result means an immediate result of the disaster itself, and not the result of a longer chain of events caused or worsened by the disaster.

To file your initial DUA claim, call 1-800-788-4002. A recording will give you important information about the DUA program and the phone number of your Regional Claims Center. You should then contact your Regional Claims Center, where a claims specialist will determine if you are eligible for any other unemployment benefits. If so, you will collect those benefits instead of receiving DUA benefits. If not, the claims specialist will help you file your DUA claim.

I Had Damages to My Farm or Ranch. Can FEMA Help?

FEMA funds are intended to assist you with disaster-related damage to your home or personal property. If you have damages to your crops, livestock, farm equipment or buildings, you may be eligible for the USDA’s disaster assistance program. To determine eligibility, contact your local Farm Service Agency office.

You may also contact the Colorado State Farm Service Agency.

My Home is not Damaged, But a Public Road or Bridge is Damaged, and I Can’t Access My Home. Can FEMA Help?

Yes. If damages to a public road or bridge prevents or restricts you from accessing your home, FEMA may be able to provide assistance.

What if I Share Ownership and Responsibility for the Road or Bridge?

All households who share in the responsibility of maintaining the private road or bridge should be encouraged to register, particularly if the damages prevent or restrict access to their homes.

My Vacation/Rental/Second Home was Damaged. Can FEMA Help?

No. FEMA’s disaster assistance program is intended to meet immediate needs, and as such is limited to an applicant’s primary residence. 42 U.S.C. § 5174(b)(1). However, if you own a secondary home that is rented out or occupied by a family member, you may be eligible for assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA).

How to Apply for FEMA Help

How Do I Apply for Individual Assistance from FEMA?

FEMA encourages all individuals who have damages or have had to evacuate because of a federally declared disaster to apply for disaster assistance.  To help with the process, FEMA has has put together a very helpful publication called the Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals & Households Program. There are also helpful teleregistration flyers for Colorado in English and Spanish.

There are four ways to register for FEMA assistance:

  1. You may register online at DisasterAssistance.gov;
  2. You may register by web-enabled device, tablet or smartphone: just type m.fema.gov in the browser;
  3. Call the toll-free registration number at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Multilingual phone operators are available on the FEMA helpline. Choose Option 2 for Spanish and Option 3 for other languages.
    • If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 1-800-462-7585 directly.
    • If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362.
    • If you get a busy signal when trying to call the FEMA Helpline, try calling at off-peak times (evenings, weekends)
  4. If a Disaster Recovery Center has been established in your area, staff members can assist you in the registration process.

What Information Do I Need to Have in Order to Apply?

When you register for disaster assistance please have the following available:

  • Social Security Number
  • Address and zip code of your damaged property
  • Directions to your damaged home or property
  • A description of losses caused by the disaster
  • A current telephone number where FEMA can reach you
  • Your current address
  • Your private insurance information, if available
  • Your total household annual income

If you want disaster assistance funds transferred directly into your bank account, you will also need to provide a routing number and account number.

What Will FEMA Accept as Proof of Home Ownership?

FEMA will accept several types of documents, including but not limited to the following: deed, mortgage documents, homeowner’s insurance policy, property tax bill, and property tax receipts.

What Will FEMA Accept as Proof of Occupancy?

FEMA will accept several types of documents, including but not limited to the following: utility bill for the damaged dwelling with your name or name of co-applicant, merchant’s statement sent to the damaged dwelling with your name or name of co-applicant, pay stubs sent to the damaged dwelling with your name or name of co-applicant, and current driver’s license or non-driver’s license with the address of the damaged dwelling.

FEMA & Insurance Coverage

Should I Apply for Individual Assistance Even if I Have Insurance?

Yes, if you have homeowner’s insurance, you should still apply for FEMA assistance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but under-insured applicants may receive help after their insurance claims have been settled.  In a News Release on September 18, 2013 for Colorado flood victims, FEMA advised in part as follows:

  • Homeowners and renters with insurance should fill out a FEMA application and SBA loan application while they are waiting for their insurance decision. It saves time.
  • If insurance doesn’t cover all of their disaster-related expenses, FEMA and/or SBA assistance may be available to fill in the gap.

As a result, you will need to work through your insurance company’s claim process before being eligible for any FEMA benefits (and you may not be eligible for any FEMA benefits at all). You should provide FEMA with a decision letter from your insurance company, as soon as your insurer sends it. If your insurance company’s settlement does not cover all your losses, or your insurance claim is denied, FEMA assistance may be available. For more information on this topic, please see FEMA’s News Release on June 12, 2013, entitled Apply for FEMA Assistance Even if You Have Flood Insurance.

What Insurance Documents Does FEMA Need?

FEMA is not allowed to duplicate any benefits already provided to you by your insurance company. 44 C.F.R. § 206.110(h). Therefore, FEMA needs to know how your insurance company handled your claim. Supporting documents to explain the handling of your claim may include a settlement detailing funds awarded or a denial letter.

Are Insurance Deductibles Covered by FEMA Funds?

No.

My Insurance Settlement Isn’t Enough to Meet My Needs or Cover My Losses. Can FEMA Help?

First, carefully review your settlement documents and your insurance policy. If you lost your policy (your actual insurance contract) in the disaster, you may call your insurance company and request that a new copy be sent to you. Be sure you understand what kinds of damages and losses are covered by your policy. If you believe your insurance company has refused a claim for a damage or loss that is covered by your policy, you should contact your insurance company to appeal the decision. See the Insurance section appearing later in this Manual for additional information on insurance appeals.

FEMA may be able to provide assistance if you still have unmet needs after utilizing your insurance policy to its full extent. 44 C.F.R. § 206.113(a)(4). While anyone affected by a disaster should register with FEMA, your application will likely be denied as ineligible if you have homeowner’s insurance. If you still have unmet needs after exhausting your insurance policy, you may contact FEMA to inquire about available assistance. You should explain that you have had a change in circumstances: you have made a claim on your insurance policy, utilized it in the intended manner, and still have unmet disaster-related needs. You should include the settlement information from your insurance company, explaining your insurance company’s decision regarding your claim.

My Insurance Company Told Me They Cannot Inspect My House for Weeks. Can FEMA Help?

FEMA may be able to help if your insurance settlement is delayed. 44 C.F.R. § 206.113(a)(3). Your settlement is considered delayed if it has been longer than 30 days since you filed your claim and no decision has been made. 44 C.F.R. § 206.111. You need to write a letter to FEMA explaining the circumstance. You should include documentation from the insurance company proving that you filed the claim. If you filed over the phone, you should include the claim number, date of filing, and any estimates given to you by the insurance company regarding how long settlement will take.

Please note that if FEMA provides any financial assistance because of a delayed insurance settlement, this assistance will be considered an advance. You must pay FEMA back the funds once your insurance settlement is complete. 44 C.F.R. § 206.113(a)(3).

I Have Insurance and Filed a Claim with My Insurance Agent, But I Have No Place to Live. Can FEMA Help Me?

Many homeowners’ insurance policies include coverage for additional living expenses (ALE). ALE coverage includes the cost of housing, food, and other daily essentials. Your policy will specify the amount of ALE coverage provided. ALE coverage is only available when the insured property is uninhabitable because of a loss covered under the homeowner’s insurance policy. If your housing costs exceed this amount, or your policy does not include ALE coverage, FEMA may be able to provide assistance.

FEMA & Immigration Issues

What are FEMA’s Citizenship/Immigration Requirements?

You must be a US citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien to qualify for a FEMA grant. Undocumented immigrants are not eligible for FEMA assistance. However, only one member of a household needs to be eligible to qualify the home for FEMA aid. An undocumented parent or guardian may apply for assistance on behalf of a minor child who is a US citizen, noncitizen national, or qualified alien. A qualified alien generally includes individuals who are lawful permanent residents (who have an alien registration card or “green card”), individuals with legal status due to asylum, refugee or parole, withholding of deportation, or domestic violence.

For more information on the eligibility of non-citizen nationals or qualified aliens for assistance, please see the News Release from FEMA in 2011 entitled Non-U.S. Citizens May be Eligible for Disaster Assistance.

I am Undocumented and Want to Apply for Aid on Behalf of My Eligible Minor Child, But I am Afraid of Being Reported to Immigration Authorities. Will FEMA Report Me?

If you are an undocumented adult applying for aid on behalf of an eligible minor child, you will be asked to sign a FEMA release in the child’s name. No information will be gathered about your immigration status or the status of other members of your household. You will not have to sign any documents regarding your immigration status.

Obtaining a FEMA Trailer

How Do I Get a FEMA Trailer?

If you are eligible for housing assistance from FEMA but are unable to find a residence to rent within a reasonable commuting distance of your damaged home, contact FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 or visit a Disaster Recovery Center. FEMA will evaluate your situation and may then authorize a temporary housing unit (a travel trailer or mobile home). 44 C.F.R. § 206.117(a)(ii). In large-scale disasters, FEMA will conduct a study of the community’s available housing stock and then make a decision regarding the need for temporary housing units.

How Long Can I Use it?

If you are approved for a FEMA temporary housing unit, you will need to meet with a FEMA housing specialist to prove your continued eligibility each month. This process is called “recertification.” Generally, temporary housing units are available for 18 months from the date of disaster declaration, assuming you remain continuously eligible. 44 C.F.R. § 206.110(e). FEMA may also grant an extension to this 18-month time period.

My Family is too Big for the Trailer. What Now?

FEMA temporary housing units come in a variety of sizes. If the largest size available is still too small for your family, it may be possible for your family to get two. You should speak with your FEMA housing specialist about your concerns.

Can I Have a Ramp Built for my Trailer?

Yes. Speak with your FEMA housing specialist or call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585.

I am Living in a FEMA–Supplied Trailer. What Do I Do Now?

Individuals who receive temporary housing in the form of FEMA travel trailers or mobile homes are required to recertify their status every 30 days. The recertification process involves verification of your continued eligibility as well as your long-term housing plans. Individuals who fail to recertify on a timely basis are subject to termination of their temporary housing benefits. You should meet on a regular basis with your FEMA housing worker to ensure that your housing benefits are not terminated.

Advocates should remind FEMA recipients of the need to meet regularly with their FEMA housing workers.

What if a Storm Damages my Trailer?

When you move into your trailer, you will be provided a maintenance number. If you do not have the maintenance number, call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 or speak with your FEMA housing specialist.

I Would Like to Buy the Trailer FEMA Provided Me. Can I Do That?

The FEMA sales program allows disaster victims to purchase a FEMA travel trailer or mobile home at a reduced price. The travel trailer or mobile home must be used as a permanent residence and cannot be transferred or sold to a third party for a period of one year from the date of purchase.

The person purchasing the travel trailer or mobile home must provide proof of insurance as well as proof of access to property on which the mobile home will be located (i.e., a letter from a mobile home park manager stating that the individual has been approved for residency at a mobile home park).

The price of a FEMA travel trailer or mobile home varies from household to household. The sales program guidelines indicate that a FEMA recipient’s income, household size, and amount of disaster assistance received are the most important factors in calculating the sales price of the mobile home and eligibility for the sales program. Therefore, it is important to advise individuals who are interested in purchasing a FEMA mobile home to save as much of their FEMA assistance as possible so that they will have the funds needed to purchase the mobile home.

What if I am not Eligible to Buy my FEMA–Provided Trailer?

In recent years, FEMA has created a non-profit trailer donation program for those individuals who do not qualify for the FEMA sales program. This program usually begins at the end of the 18-month temporary housing program. FEMA “donates” mobile homes to local non-profits. In consideration for the “donation,” the non-profit agrees that the units will be used exclusively to house disaster victims for a period of one year. When the one-year period expires, the non-profits are allowed to transfer ownership of the mobile homes directly to the disaster victims.

FEMA Post-Application Process & Appeals

What Should I Expect After Applying for Individual Assistance?

After applying for federal help, please note that it may take up to 48 hours for your registration to appear in FEMA’s system. You may find it helpful to create an online account which will allow you to track the progress of your application at http://www.disasterassistance.gov. However, creating an online account is not required. You can also call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585 to check on the status of your application.

After applying, you will be given a FEMA registration number. This is very important, Please write it down and keep it somewhere safe. FEMA will also mail you a copy of your application and a pamphlet entitled “Help After A Disaster, An Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals and Households Program.” Please read it carefully; this pamphlet should answer most of your questions and provide information about other programs that may be able to assist in your recovery efforts.  There is also helpful information in the News Release, called Register With FEMA, which was released in Colorado on Sept. 18, 2013.

Otherwise, after Colorado survivors apply for federal help that includes aid for damage to their homes, housing inspections are the next step.  A FEMA inspector may contact you to schedule an appointment for an inspection.  It is very important you provide a working phone number so this inspector is able to reach you. If an inspector cannot contact you, your application will experience delays. To find out more, please read this FEMA News Release Regarding Inspections in Colorado. During the process, it is possible that you may be asked to complete additional paperwork.

Where Should I Mail my Receipts to FEMA?

You may mail receipts to:

FEMA Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055

You may also fax receipts to: 1-800-827-8112

However you choose to send it, be sure to also include your name, the last four digits of your Social Security number, the disaster number (DR-4145), and your FEMA registration number. Please ensure this information appears on all pages of your correspondence, and keep a copy for your records.

I Missed the FEMA Inspector. Should I try to Call Them Back?

No. FEMA inspectors are busy inspecting other houses and you will likely be unable to reach them. You should wait for the inspector to contact you again. Inspectors will try to contact you three times to arrange an inspection of your property. It’s important you keep your contact information updated so the inspector can reach you.

I Have a New Phone Number. How Do I Update My Application?

It is very important that you keep FEMA updated with current contact information, including phone number and address. You may update FEMA by calling the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585, or by visiting a Disaster Recovery Center.

I Got a Check from FEMA. Can I Spend it on Whatever I Want?

No. It is very important that you spend the money in the way FEMA intended. FEMA will send you an award letter with an explanation of the funds, and it is important that you spend the money appropriately and keep documentation of this.

For example, FEMA “Housing Needs” assistance must be spent on housing. You may not spend it on replacement clothing or food, even if you need these things because of the disaster. If you do not use the money properly, you may not be eligible for additional help. You may also be required to pay the money back (also called “recoupment of funds”). If you aren’t sure whether a specific expense is qualified for use of FEMA funds, you should contact FEMA to ask.

I Received a Rental Assistance Check, But There are No Places to Rent.

If you are eligible for housing assistance but cannot find rental housing within a reasonable commuting distance of your damaged dwelling, you should contact FEMA or visit a Disaster Recovery Center. FEMA will evaluate your situation and may authorize a travel trailer or mobile home to provide temporary housing. 44 C.F.R. § 206.117(b)(ii)

What if I Don’t Get Enough FEMA Money to Meet My Needs?

FEMA funds and other disaster aid programs are only intended to meet essential needs. 42 U.S.C. § 5170b. There may be other sources of funding, such as SBA loans that can assist you in your recovery. You should apply for all available assistance.

If you feel the amounts FEMA has approved for specific needs are too low, you can always appeal the decision. 44 C.F.R. § 206.115. Keep in mind you will need to explain why you believe you are entitled to additional funds.

Other People in My Area Got FEMA Help, But I Didn’t. Why?

FEMA’s eligibility criteria are the same for everyone. But keep in mind that each person’s situation is unique; FEMA will examine the damage to the individual’s home, their insured or uninsured status, etc.

If you feel FEMA’s decision is incorrect, you may always appeal the decision. 44 C.F.R. § 206.115.

The Inspector Told Me I Was Going to Get Money from FEMA, But the FEMA Letter Said I was Ineligible. Who is Right?

Inspectors are contracted by FEMA to perform inspection work only, and are not authorized to comment on eligibility matters. The letter is correct, and not the inspector.

I Have a lot of Damage, But my FEMA Letter Says $0. Why?

Your letter from FEMA will state a reason for the denial. Once you have found the stated reason, you may refer to the Applicant’s Guide for additional information.

Applicants are most commonly denied because they have insurance to cover the loss.

The FEMA Letter Said I Had No Damage or Insufficient Damage, But I Think it is Wrong. What Do I Do Now?

You may always appeal FEMA’s decision if you believe it is incorrect. 44 C.F.R. § 206.115. When you appeal FEMA’s decision, you are asking FEMA to review your case again. It is important that you do this in a timely matter: you must appeal within 60 days of the date on FEMA’s decision letter. Id. All appeals must be in writing. Id. You may mail or fax your appeal. You may be appealing FEMA’s decision regarding your eligibility, the amount or type of help provided to you, late applications, requests to return money (also called “recoupment”), or questions regarding continued help.

Your appeal should explain in writing why you disagree with the decision. You may include documents which support your explanation (e.g., a contractor’s estimate showing how much it will cost to repair your home). Be sure to sign your appeal letter.

Your appeal should include on the top of each page your name, the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number, birthdate, disaster number, FEMA registration number, and pre-disaster address.

Your appeal may be mailed to:

FEMA – Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055

You may also fax your appeal to 1-800-827-8112 (Attention: FEMA).

I Need to Pay Money Back to FEMA. Where Do I Send it?

You have several options for paying money back to FEMA. You may pay by personal check or money order, by credit card, or by returning the un-cashed US Treasury check. Make all personal checks or money orders payable to FEMA. Be sure to include your FEMA registration number, which will be included on your Notice of Debt letter, or your Bill for Collection number. If FEMA cannot identify you and associate your personal check or money order with an outstanding debt, it will be returned to you.

Mail personal check or money order to:

FEMA
P.O. Box 530217
Atlanta, GA 30353

You may pay using a credit card by completing the form included in your Notice of Debt letter. Be sure to include the type of card (Visa, MasterCard, etc.), card number, expiration date, and your signature.  Mail the completed credit card form to:

FEMA
P.O. Box 530217
Atlanta, GA 30353

US Treasury checks which have not been cashed or deposited may be returned to FEMA at:

Kansas City Financial Center
P.O. Box 12599-0599
Kansas City, MO 64116-0599