May 9th, 2007 06:03 EST
Frequently Asked Questions on Applying for FEMA Assistance
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Kansas residents living in Kiowa County may be eligible for Individual Assistance from the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). To be considered for such assistance, residents must first apply with FEMA.
How do I apply?
There are two ways to apply for disaster assistance. Residents can apply online through www.fema.gov or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech or hearing impaired.
What kinds of assistance are available?
Individual Assistance can include grants to help pay for temporary housing, home repairs and other disaster-related expenses not covered by insurance or other aid programs. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) will also be available to cover residential and business losses not fully compensated by insurance. Grants do not have to be repaid, but loans from the SBA must be repaid.
Am I eligible for Individual Assistance if I already have insurance?
You should apply for assistance even if you have insurance, because you may find you are under-insured or have unmet needs after your insurance settlement. Contact your insurance agent to file a claim as soon as possible. Failure to file a claim with your insurance company may affect your eligibility for assistance. Insurance is your main source for money to put your life back in order after a disaster. But there are many things that insurance does not cover, so disaster programs may be able to help.
I have applied. What happens next?
After you apply, FEMA will mail you a copy of your application and a copy of "Help After a Disaster: Applicant's Guide to the Individuals and Households Program," which will answer many of your questions. This useful publication explains how FEMA's disaster assistance program works; describes additional kinds of help you may qualify for from other federal, state and voluntary agencies; and gives you many important tips on how to best make all these programs work for you.
If your home or its contents are damaged and you do not have insurance, an inspector should contact you within 10 days after you apply to schedule a time to meet you at your damaged home. All inspectors carry photo ID that shows they are affiliated with the U.S. government. If you get an SBA Disaster Loan application in the mail, you must complete and return the application to be considered for a loan.
How can I check the status of my case?
Go to www.fema.gov or call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585 for the hearing or speech impaired.
Do I have to be a legal U.S. resident to receive Individual Assistance?
Yes. To be eligible for cash assistance from FEMA you must be a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien. A qualified alien generally includes individuals who are lawful permanent residents (possessing an alien registration receipt card) or those with legal status due to asylum, refugee, parole (admission into the U.S. for humanitarian purposes), withholding of deportation, or domestic violence. Check with an immigration expert if you have questions about your legal status.
Is there any assistance available for undocumented immigrants?
You may apply for Individual Assistance on behalf of your child who is a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien. Or another adult household member may qualify for household assistance if he or she is a documented immigrant. You may also be eligible under many different programs run by state and local agencies and voluntary agencies for various types of cash assistance. An undocumented immigrant may be eligible for short-term, non-cash emergency aid provided by FEMA.
Temporary housing assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does not require that an applicant file for an SBA loan. However, an applicant must complete an SBA loan application to be eligible for additional assistance under the part of the Other Needs Assistance (ONA) program that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses. There are other ONA grants such as public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses that do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan to be eligible. FEMA will process applications for housing assistance regardless of whether the applicant has applied for an SBA loan and eligibility determinations for applicants requesting FEMA's temporary housing assistance will not be held up because the applicant has or has not filled out an SBA application.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.