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FEMA relief myths and facts, explained

In the aftermath of a disaster, misconceptions about disaster assistance can often prevent survivors from applying for help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Small Business Administration. A good rule of thumb: register, even if you’re unsure whether you’ll be eligible for assistance.

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: If you receive disaster assistance from FEMA once, you can never receive help from FEMA again in the future?

Fact: Everybody’s situation is different, but the simple answer is this is not true. FEMA cannot duplicate assistance you may have received from insurance payments, state, or voluntary agencies. The help FEMA provides is to fill disaster related needs not covered by other forms of assistance. It’s important to remember FEMA is not a replacement for insurance.

Myth: If I receive disaster assistance from FEMA, I will have to pay it back?

Fact: The money FEMA provides to disaster survivors are grants which do not have to be repaid.

Myth: You already made the needed repairs so it’s too late to apply for help from FEMA.

Fact: You can still apply for FEMA assistance even if you completed your repairs. Submit photos of the damage and receipts for the repairs to FEMA.