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Disaster Assistance

Uninsured Emergency Personal Needs

Including automobiles, medical expenses, clothing, tools, cleaning and many other expenses as described below.

Survivors applying for Disaster Assistance have reported many situations where they have received information inconsistent with the applicable federal laws and regulations. These laws and regulations afford considerable rights to compensation for individuals and households, however, they are complicated.

FEMA has published their interpretation of their own rules that in many cases differ from the applicable regulations. For example, FEMA's webpage on September 29, 2005 specified that aid for individuals with insurance would possibly be paid, but only if "your insurance settlement is delayed". FEMA's webpage defines "delayed" as "your insurance settlement has been delayed longer than 30-days from the time you filed the claim."

However, the regulations, state, "In a situation where the applicant has insurance, when the insured individual or household's insurance proceeds have been significantly delayed through no fault of his, her or their own, and the applicant has agreed to repay the assistance to FEMA or the State from insurance proceeds that he, she or they receive later;..."

Some homeless survivors, especially the elderly, parents and others caring for small children and survivors who are separated from their pets, interpret a "significant delay" as much less than 30 days.

Differences like these between the governing regulations and FEMA's policies have lead to problems for survivors of previous storms with other FEMA programs.

For example, FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program, a cooperative venture between FEMA and many of the largest insurers in the United States, pays for "Direct" damages by or from a flood. Yet, FEMA and its contractor used a policy that defined "direct" as contacted by floodwaters. Although the written policy was changed once FEMAINFO.US brought the situation to light, FEMA never compensated claimants for the shortfall caused by the errant policy - more than 50% of the loss in many cases. Nor has FEMA corrected the practice.

As a result, many victims remain homeless more than two years after their loss and some survivors have grouped together and filed a $2 billion fraud suit against FEMA, its contractors and business partners.

The following information is not an interpretation of the regulations related to financial assistance, but rather the actual regulations as published in the Federal Register on September 30, 2002.

§ 206.119 Financial Assistance to Address Other Needs. (a) Purpose. FEMA and the State may provide financial assistance to individuals and households who have other disaster-related necessary expenses or serious needs. To qualify for assistance under this section, an applicant must also:

(1) Apply to the United States Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Disaster Home Loan Program for all available assistance under that program; and (2) Be declined for SBA Disaster Home Loan Program assistance; or

(3) Demonstrate that the SBA assistance received does not satisfy their total necessary expenses or serious needs arising out of the major disaster.

(b) Types of assistance. (1) Medical, dental, and funeral expenses. FEMA may provide financial assistance for medical, dental and funeral items or services to meet the disaster-related necessary expenses and serious needs of individuals and households. (2) Personal property, transportation, and other expenses.

(i) FEMA may provide financial assistance for personal property and transportation items or services to meet the disaster-related necessary expenses and serious needs of individuals and households. (ii) FEMA may provide financial assistance for other items or services that are not included in the specified categories for other assistance but which FEMA approves, in coordination with the State, as eligible to meet unique disaster-related necessary expenses and serious needs of individuals and households.

(c) Eligible costs.

(1) Personal property. Necessary expenses and serious needs for repair or replacement of personal property are generally limited to the following: (i) Clothing; (ii) Household items, furnishings or appliances; (iii) Tools, specialized or protective clothing, and equipment required by an employer as a condition of employment; (iv) Computers, uniforms, schoolbooks and supplies required for educational purposes; and (v) Cleaning or sanitizing any eligible personal property item.

(2) Transportation. Necessary expenses or serious needs for transportation are generally limited to the following: (i) Repairing or replacing vehicles; and (ii) Financial assistance for public transportation and any other transportation related costs or services.

(3) Medical expenses. Medical expenses are generally limited to the following: (i) Medical costs; (ii) Dental costs; and (iii) Repair or replacement of medical equipment.

(4) Funeral expenses. Funeral expenses are generally limited to the following (i) Funeral services; (ii) Burial or cremation; and (iii) Other related funeral expenses.

(5) Moving and storage expenses. Necessary expenses and serious needs related to moving and storing personal property to avoid additional disaster damage generally include storage of personal property while disaster-related repairs are being made to the primary residence, and return of the personal property to the individual or household’s primary residence.

(6) Other. Other disaster-related expenses not addressed in this section may include: (i) The purchase of a Group Flood Insurance Policy as described in paragraph (d) of this section. (ii) Other miscellaneous items or services that FEMA, in consultation with the State, determines are necessary expenses and serious needs.

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Last Modified: 100605 1136

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