Know the facts, ignore the rumors

Staff Report

FEMA Registration

RUMOR: Disaster assistance is only for people whose homes flooded. You can’t register for FEMA assistance if you only have wind damage.

FACT: If your home had wind damage as result of the severe storms and flooding from March 8 through April 8, you may be eligible for FEMA disaster assistance. Let FEMA determine your eligibility. Register for assistance if your home was affected by the severe storms.

RUMOR: Survivors can’t register if they have insurance.

FACT: You can register and may be eligible for disaster aid even if you have insurance. Federal disaster assistance may be able to help if your insurance settlement is delayed or not enough, you’ve exhausted Additional Living Expenses, or you discover damage in the future.

RUMOR: If you register with your parish emergency management office you are registered with FEMA.

FACT: Registering with your parish emergency management agency, the Red Cross, or with any other charitable organization is NOT the same as registering with FEMA. You still need to register with FEMA.

FEMA Assistance won’t affect other benefits

RUMOR: If you receive a grant from FEMA you will get less money from Social Security.

FACT: FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect your eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.

RUMOR: If you receive money from FEMA you have to pay it 

FACT: FEMA grants do not have to be repaid.

Appealing FEMA’s Decision

RUMOR: Once FEMA determines that you are not eligible for assistance, there is nothing you can do.

FACT: Every Louisiana homeowner or renter has the right to appeal FEMA’s determination decision. The first step in appealing the decision is reading your determination letter carefully. Sometimes FEMA just needs additional information; there may be issues with your application that can be resolved quickly and easily, enabling you to receive assistance.

RUMOR: You can’t get help from FEMA; if your determination letter says that you’re not eligible because you have insurance.

FACT: If your insurance coverage is insufficient to make essential home repairs, provide a place to stay or replace certain contents, FEMA can reconsider you. But you must provide documents from your insurance company that detail your settlement. Contact your insurance company if you need settlement documents and then provide that information to FEMA.

RUMOR: If you inherited your home and even if you’ve lived there for years, but don’t have the deed you can’t receive assistance.

FACT: There are other documents besides a deed you can submit to prove home ownership including mortgage or insurance documents or tax receipts. If you don’t have a deed handy, speak to your local or parish officials about obtaining a copy.

RUMOR: There’s no way to get answers to questions about determination letters.

FACT:  If you have any questions about your determination letter, call the FEMA helpline.

If you had storm-related damage or losses, register or ask questions by calling the FEMA helpline at (800) 621-3362 or (TTY) (800) 462-4585. Lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week until further notice. Registration is also available online at DisasterAssistance.gov.