How do I apply for FEMA aid?
If you live in an area that has been declared a federal disaster area it’s possible that you qualify for federal disaster aid through Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA.gov. Navigating the federal aid waters can be confusing as there is a lot of red tape you will have to cut through. It is never easy to know whether or not you qualify for aid, when and where you should apply or what to do if your claim is denied.
Here are a few tips that should make the process of applying for FEMA aid a little bit easier:
Should I Bother Applying?
Absolutely, if you live in a city county or state that was declared a federal disaster area and your property, either home or business, was damaged, then you should apply for aid via FEMA.
While applying for aid is certainly no guarantee that you will receive help, there is no penalty for applying and in many cases your claim will be accepted.
This even applies to people who have a flood insurance policy, as there is a chance you might not be carrying enough flood insurance to cover all the damage to your home or business.
According to FEMA representatives, having flood insurance is not a requirement for applying and qualifying for FEMA aid, which means if your home or business was flooded and you do not have flood insurance you should definitely apply for assistance.
How Much Aid Can I Get?
The amount of aid you are qualified to receive can vary dramatically depending on the value of your property and the amount of damage you have sustained. While most homeowners receive less, the maximum amount a homeowner can receive runs as high as $33,000.
In most cases homeowners will not receive that maximum. Renters can be eligible for up to 18 months of rental assistance.
Every case is different so there is no accurate way to determine how much aid you will get until you actually apply and go through the process.
In addition to aid, homeowners and business owners with damaged property may be eligible to receive low-interest loans worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Despite its name, the SBA deals with homeowners and issues loans to not only business owners but homeowners as well.
How Long Will it Take to Get Aid?
Again, it can vary dramatically by case. In a best-case scenario you could receive payment in as little as 72 hours from the time you apply. Keep in mind this is a best-case scenario and not the norm. Expect to wait days, weeks, and possibly even months to receive full payment.
It is important to continue to follow up with any paperwork that arrives in the mail and check with your caseworker on a regular basis to help navigate the various options that are available to you. When you apply for disaster aid via FEMA it automatically triggers other federal programs that could possibly help you, which makes follow-up key to getting your case resolved.
What Should I do if I Receive a Denial Letter?
Carefully read the denial letter. It is very possible that you just need to provide FEMA with more information. If your application is incompletes or they do not have the proper information a denial letter is automatically sent.
Common missing pieces of the application are proof of ownership of your home or business and documentation regarding your insurance.
If it is a true denial letter it is also possible to appeal the decision and experts recommend that most people appeal a denial. You can also request a second FEMA inspection if you are convinced that the inspectors miss something relevant on the first inspection.
Contact your case manager as well because they may be able to direct you to other government agencies that will be able to provide aid in your particular situation.
Navigating the federal disaster aid system is never easy but hopefully these tips will help you reach a quick and easy settlement.