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Disaster Assistance Commonly Reported Problems

 

The largest number of complaints concern the following items:

 

Exceptionally long telephone hold times and conflicting information.

Damage inspectors or other personnel refusing to compensate survivors for damages allowed under the Disaster Assistance Program. The most common type of aid that is wrongly refused involves Housing Assistance in the form of temporary housing and Financial Assistance in the form of rental and mortgage payment assistance.

Applicants are wrongly denied benefits when they have insurance. Many items are not covered by insurance yet are elligible for grants from the Disaster Assistance Program. In regards to temporary housing, for example, the regulations state, "Prior to provision of assistance, the applicant must agree to repay to FEMA from insurance proceeds or recoveries from any other source an amount equivalent to the value of the temporary housing assistance provided."

Yet in many cases, aid workers tell applicants that they are not entitled to benefits if they had property insurance, and in some cases, flood insurance at the time of the loss.

Disaster Assistance adjusters make inconsistent determinations. Many of the people involved in the Disaster Assistance Program are government contractors, in some cases wearing blue FEMA jackets. Many problems have been found with the contractors and a US Senate hearing was held in May 2005 regarding some of the problems with the adjusters. The hearing was entitled "FEMA’s Response to the 2004 Florida Hurricanes: A Disaster for Taxpayers?"

Among the problems found were adjusters with little training, and in many cases serious criminal records, were being used to adjust Disaster Assistance Claims.

FEMAINF.US is unaware of any substantive changes with the contractors, or FEMA's oversight of the contractors, that has occurred since the hearing as of October 4, 2005.

 

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Last Modified: 100605 1830

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