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Hurricane Ida: Step-by-Step guide to applying for FEMA assistance

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

INFORMATION

 

To fill out an application online, start by going to https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ and click “apply online.”

*You’ll be asked a CAPTCHA question to prove that you are not a robot

NOTE: You will be given details about the application process - including the information needed to complete the application. To complete registration as fast a possible, have this information ready before you begin the application

 

Hurricane Ida FEMA Application Step-by-step Guide

To begin the application, you will be asked to check the box to accept the Privacy Act Statement and Declaration of Eligibility. This essentially means that you agree: to the government accessing your records and information and also that you are a US citizen, qualified alien of the US, or parent of either

You will need to fill out some identifying information, including your social security number. Be sure to include your email so you may check the status of your application online

You will then be asked if you have any communication/language accommodation needs to communicate with FEMA regarding your application. Click “yes.” if this applies to you. If not, click “no”

  • FEMA can accommodate you if you are bilingual or need an alternate format such as Braille or large print font 

Then you will be asked if you have a disability that requires an assistive device (i.e. wheelchair, hearing aid, service animal, etc) and if that device was damaged or disrupted because of the disaster. If this applies to you, answer “yes.” If not, click “no”

Fill in your contact information

Fill in the address of the residence that was damaged or that you were displaced from during evacuation and then choose the parish in which this residence is located

On the next screen, “HURRICANE IDA” should automatically pop up under “Description of Disaster.” Fill in the dot and click “next.”

Clarify what type of damage occurred to your residence. You must choose at least one damage type to move on with the application. If you are not sure, or if your home was not damaged but you are seeking critical funds for evacuation expenses, rental assistance, choose the hurricane option.

Next, you’ll be asked some questions about property damage. In order to qualify for aid through FEMA, you must answer “yes” or “unknown” to questions regarding damage to your home and property.

  • Note: If you answer no, you will likely not qualify for any assistance through FEMA.

Next, some questions about your residence and where you are staying now.

  • Note: If you chose “unsure” in the previous section, make sure to mark that you are unable to return to your home in this section.

Then you will be asked insurance questions. If you have insurance, you should file a claim with your insurance company immediately. FEMA assistance cannot aid with losses already covered by insurance.

  • Note: If you have been denied by your insurance company you should submit your denial letter to FEMA

Next, you can specify if you have immediate needs for expenses related to evacuation i.e. gas, medication, clothing, etc. If your residence in New Orleans is uninhabitable (due to damage or power outages), “I have a disaster related emergency need for shelter” applies to you.

Then they will ask to clarify occupants of your household. If you are unsure, click “help” for more information.

  • NOTE: If you have roommates that have also applied for FEMA assistance using the same address, you may need to call FEMA to apply

Next, if you are self-employed or own a business/rental property, click “yes,” if no, click “no”

Then fill in questions about your financial situation.

  • You will likely receive funds more quickly if you agree to have funds directly deposited into your bank account. If you’ve chosen direct deposit through your bank, you’ll be asked to fill out information about your bank account

Lastly, fill out how you would like to be contacted and verify your identity 

I have applied for assistance. What's next?

 
INSURANCE

If you have insurance you should file a claim with your insurance company when you apply for assistance from FEMA

  • FEMA cannot aid with losses already covered by insurance
  • If your insurance does not cover all your losses or is delayed, you may be eligible for FEMA assistance regarding your unmet needs

 

REVIEWING YOUR APPLICATION

You should create an online FEMA Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) account at DisasterAssistance.gov. You will be instructed to create a unique PIN for secure access to your disaster assistance application information. 

Here is what you can do within your online account: 

  • Review your disaster assistance application information
  • Provide updates pertaining to your personal information and needs
  • View letters and messages sent to you by FEMA
  • Get details on additional documents that FEMA needs to process your assistance
  • Upload documents your file
  • Review information that FEMA has received from you

 

HOME OWNERSHIP & OCCUPANCY VERIFICATION

FEMA is required to verify you lived at the address in your application as your primary residence before providing assistance. FEMA will try to verify occupancy and ownership by using an automated public records search. You will be asked to provide documents to prove occupancy and/or ownership of the home listed in your application if FEMA cannot verify you lived in or owned the home. 

Click HERE to view a list of approved documents to verify your homeownership and/or occupancy. 

 

IDENTITY VERIFICATION

Like your homeowner and occupancy verification, if FEMA is unable to verify your identity during the application process, you will be required to submit supporting documents.

Supporting documents for identity verification

(1) To verify your identity, send FEMA any of these documents:

  • Documentation from the Social Security Administration, or other federal entity, containing full or last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Social Security card if sent with a federal or state-issued identification
  • Employer’s payroll document containing full or last four digits of your SSN
  • Military identification
  • Marriage license to confirm proof of maiden name
  • U.S. passport

(2) If you applied for assistance on behalf of a U.S. minor (child) citizen for your household, you must send FEMA the following: 

  • Any of the documents listed above, if in the child’s name OR
  • Child’s birth certificate AND a copy of the child’s Social Security card or documentation from the Social Security Administration, or other federal entity, containing the full or last four digits of the child’s SSN

 

HOW TO SUBMIT DOCUMENTATION

The easiest way to submit documentation to FEMA is to use your account at DisasterAssistance.gov 

Alternatively, FEMA has documentation drop-off centers where you can apply for assistance, ask questions, and have your documents scanned into your case file

Click HERE to find a disaster recovery and document drop-off center 

 

HOME INSPECTIONS

FEMA may determine that an inspection is needed to verify disaster-related damage to your home and personal property after reviewing your application. Typically, if you reported on the application that you can live in your home, FEMA will send you a letter explaining how to call the FEMA Helpline to request an inspection if you find significant disaster-related damage to your home after you applied. 

Please Note: Due to COVID-19, FEMA will conduct exterior inspections until further notice. All inspections will be conducted in person without entering your residence.

During your initial inspection, the inspector validates damage from the exterior of the home and from questioning the applicant about their damage.

Important information to have on-hand during the inspection

  • An ID with your picture on it 
  • List of household occupants living in the home at the time of disaster
  • All disaster-caused damages to both real and personal property

 

 

If you receive a letter stating that you are ineligible for assistance or that your application is incomplete, you can still complete the application or appeal the decision within 60 days of receiving a decision letter. It is important to check the status of your application frequently. 

 

How do I appeal the final decision?

 
INFORMATION BEFORE YOU APPEAL

If you receive a letter stating that you are ineligible for assistance or that your application is incomplete, you can still complete the application or appeal the decision within 60 days of receiving a decision letter. 

An appeal is a written request to FEMA to review your file again, and an opportunity to provide new or additional information not previously submitted that may affect the decision.

If you have questions regarding the letter you received or how to file an appeal, you may contact a FEMA Helpline agent at 1-800-621-3362 (FEMA), or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. You may also choose to request a copy of your file from FEMA to help you understand why you received the decision you want to appeal.

 

HOW TO OBTAIN A COPY OF YOUR FILE

You must submit a written request that includes:

  • Your full name
  • FEMA application number
  • Disaster number
  • Address of the damaged property and your current mailing address
  • Your date of birth 
  • Your signature with one of the following
    • Notary stamp or seal
    • A statement that says, “I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.”
 
HOW TO APPEAL A DECISION

You must explain in writing why you think FEMA's decision about the amount or type of assistance you received is incorrect. You, or your co-applicant, must sign the letter.

 

HOW TO SUBMIT YOUR APPEAL

1. Online:

Use your account with disasterassistance.org to submit your appeal by going to the "Upload Center" 

2. By mail: 

Mail your appeal letter and supporting documents to:

FEMA - Individuals & Households Program National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055

3. By fax:

Fax your appeal letter and supporting documents to:

(800) 827-8112
Attention: FEMA - Individuals & Households Program

4. In-person: 

You can take your appeal request to a Disaster Recovery Center. The centers operate under strict COVID-19 protocols. Masks or face coverings are required for service.

 

Last Review and Update: Oct 25, 2021
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