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Common Myths vs. Facts About FEMA Aid

Congresswoman McCarthy gives a list of misconceptions about FEMA Aid.

I would like to give a list of common myths vs. facts about applying for FEMA disaster assistance today.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about what FEMA can and cannot do for victims of major disasters like Hurricane Sandy. Hopefully this information will help clear up some of the confusion and help people get the assistance they need.

People affected by Hurricane Sandy should go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov, call 800-621-FEMA (3362), or visit a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (list available at https://asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/drcLocator.jsp). Those with access or functional needs can call 800-462-7585, or 800-621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service.

Common Myths vs. Facts About FEMA Aid

MYTH: I’ve already cleaned up the damage to my home and had the repairs made. Isn’t it too late to register once the work is done?
FACT: You may be eligible for reimbursement of your clean up and repair costs, even if repairs are complete.

MYTH: I’m a renter. I thought FEMA assistance was only for homeowners for home repairs.
FACT: FEMA assistance is not just for homeowners. FEMA may provide assistance to help renters who lost personal property or who were displaced.

MYTH: FEMA assistance could affect my Social Security benefits, taxes, food stamps or Medicaid.
FACT: FEMA assistance does not affect benefits from other federal programs and is not considered taxable income.

MYTH: My insurance agent told me I could not get help from FEMA because I have flood insurance.
FACT: Even if you have flood insurance you should register. FEMA may be able to help with uninsured costs. 

MYTH: I heard registration involves a lot of red tape and paperwork.
FACT: There is no paperwork to register with FEMA. The process is very easy and normally takes between 15 and 20 minutes.

MYTH: I believe FEMA only makes loans so I didn’t apply for help because I don’t want a loan.
FACT: FEMA only provides grants. The grants may cover expenses for temporary housing, home repairs, replacement of damaged personal property and other disaster-related needs such as medical, dental or transportation costs not covered by insurance or other programs. They don’t have to be repaid.
The U.S. Small Business Administration provides low-interest disaster loans to renters, homeowners and businesses of all sizes. Some applicants may receive an SBA loan application after registering with FEMA. No one is obligated to take out a loan, but if they don’t complete the application they may not be considered for other federal grant programs.

MYTH: Since I received disaster assistance last year, I’m sure I can’t get it again this year.
FACT: Assistance may be available if you suffered damages from a new federally declared disaster. 

MYTH: My income is probably too high for me to qualify for disaster assistance.
FACT: Income is not a consideration for FEMA assistance.  FEMA grants may cover uninsured losses.

Carolyn McCarthy is the representative of New York’s Fourth Congressional District. She was first elected in 1996.

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