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FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, reminds all who experienced losses that in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, it is important to know the difference between myth and fact when it comes registering for FEMA aid and what they may be eligible to receive.
Here are some common misunderstandings:
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 cleanup 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.
MYTH: I don't want to apply for help because others had more damage than I had; they need the help more than me.
FACT: FEMA has enough funding to assist all eligible survivors with their disaster related needs.
The best rule of thumb: If you're unsure if you are eligible for assistance, go to www.DisasterAssistance.gov or m.fema.gov or call (800) 621-3362 (FEMA). Those with access or functional needs can call (800) 462-7585 or (800) 621-3362 if using 711 or Video Relay Service.
Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.