Other Needs Assistance
FEMA INDIVIDUALS AND HOUSEHOLDS PROGRAM (IHP):
OTHER NEEDS ASSISTANCE (ONA)
INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS AND CULTURAL WORKERS
When you visit DisasterAssistance.gov, the website will recommend several programs that may assist you after a disaster. If you have housing and other unmet needs, it may point you to resources in FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program. The IHP program subdivides into Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance
(ONA). You will only need to create one account with FEMA that you can use to access multiple sources of support. You will be asked to submit different kinds of documentation to determine eligibility for Housing Assistance as well as Other Needs Assistance. In this guide, we have separated out these two funding sources to make clear what each source covers.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM
FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provides money for necessary expenses and serious needs caused by a presidentially declared disaster that are not covered by insurance or by low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration.
Potential expenses covered by ONA:
Medical and dental expenses
Funeral and burial expenses
Loss or damage to essential household items (furniture, appliances)
Tools including specialized or protective clothing and equipment required for your job
Educational materials (computers, textbooks, supplies)
Clean-up equipment (chainsaw, dehumidifier)
Loss or damage to an essential vehicle
Moving and storage expenses
Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA
FEMA collaborates with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to determine applicant eligibility for some types of ONA. To seek financial assistance for costs associated with personal property damage or transportation, you will first have to apply for a disaster loan from the SBA. If you do not qualify for an SBA loan or you are approved for a loan that does not meet all the necessary expenses of the disaster, FEMA may be able to provide assistance for unmet needs under ONA. Expenses covered by ONA regardless of SBA loan status include assistance with funeral expenses, medical and dental expenses, and childcare.
FEMA’s Housing Assistance process attempts to be as streamlined as possible to meet the immediate needs for shelter after a disaster. FEMA Individuals and Households Program has one application process that includes Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance.
Application: You can register to apply for FEMA disaster assistance through the online portal at DisasterAssistance.gov, via FEMA’s free mobile app, by calling FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362, or at a Disaster Recovery Center. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability and use a Text Telephone (TTY), you can call 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), you can call 800-621-3362.
Inspection: Once you apply for assistance, FEMA will verify your losses to determine if you are eligible for assistance. FEMA may verify your losses by sending an inspector to your home, using technology such as geospatial inspections, or by reviewing documentation you provide. If you have insurance, FEMA may only provide assistance if your needs are not met by your insurance company. FEMA inspections are always free. Do not pay a fee for someone to inspect your damages.
Funding: If you are eligible, FEMA can provide funds to you either via check or electronic funds transfer directly to your bank.
IMPORTANT TIME-SENSITIVE STEPS
Application Deadline: 60 days of the presidential declaration
Documentation: Take photos of your damages and keep all receipts associated with the above expenses
DECISION POINT 1
IS THE PROGRAM LIKELY TO BE RELEVANT TO MY SITUATION?
Has there been a presidential declaration of emergency or disaster?
Has it been less than 60 days since the declaration?
Was your primary residence damaged by the disaster?
Do you need temporary housing, shelter, and/or financial assistance to repair your primary residence to be safe and sanitary?
Did the damage to your housing occur within the declared incident period?
Is your housing in the official designated area?
Are you or someone in your household, including a minor child, a U.S.
citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien?
If you have insurance, have you filed an insurance claim?
WHAT YOU NEED TO APPLY
There is not a separate Other Needs Assistance application. You will need to register with FEMA and provide the information below to apply for any Individuals and Households Program resources:
Your Social Security number (SSN) OR the SSN of a minor child in the household who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien
Total annual household income before taxes
Contact information (phone number, mailing address, email address, and damaged home address)
Insurance information (coverage, insurance company name, etc.)
Bank account information (If you are eligible to receive financial assistance, the money can be deposited directly into your account.)
DECISION POINT 2
IS IT WORTH MY TIME AND EFFORT TO APPLY?
After a disaster, FEMA Other Needs Assistance is there to help with your crit- ical needs that are unmet by other sources. ONA addresses a range of issues that crop up as the result of a disaster and works in tandem with the SBA to help you recover. If you have medical, dental, funeral, or childcare expenses because of a disaster, ONA could provide tax-free financial help for costs insurance will not cover. If you have no insurance at all, ONA could make a dramatic difference. If you have personal property damage and/or damage to your vehicle, FEMA may refer you to the Small Business Administration to apply for a low-interest, fixed-rate disaster loan to cover these costs. If you do not qualify for the loan, FEMA ONA may be able to help with these costs.
If you have insurance, you will have to provide thorough documentation that some or all of your costs have been denied by your insurance company.
If you don’t have or can’t access your personal records after a disaster, providing all of the necessary paperwork may prove challenging. However, FEMA may provide alternative options for documentation depending on your circumstances.
To qualify for assistance from FEMA’s
Individuals and Households Program (IHP),
you or a member of your household must be a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national, or qualified alien with a green card. Adults who don’t qualify under one of the three categories above, including individuals who are undocumented, can apply on behalf of a minor child who does qualify and has a Social Security number.
ARTS-RELATED BUSINESS COSTS
FEMA will not cover the costs of damages associated with businesses. If your losses are associated with work you do as an artist, these could be considered business related and will require that you seek a disaster loan from the SBA instead.
REPORTING AND REPAYMENT
FEMA Other Needs Assistance grants are tax free and do not need to be repaid. However, if you use FEMA funds while waiting for an insurance settlement, any FEMA money issued to you will be considered an advance that must be repaid when your insurance claim is settled.
Do I have to apply for an SBA Loan in order to get Other Needs Assistance funds?
While personal property and transportation needs may require you to apply for an SBA loan, certain serious needs may be covered by ONA grants regardless of apply- ing for an SBA loan:
Funeral assistance is available to eligible individuals and households who incur or will incur expenses related to a death attributed directly or indirectly to a disaster.
Medical and dental assistance is available to cover injury or illness; loss of pre- scribed medication and equipment; insurance co-payments; or loss of or injury to a service animal not covered by insurance.
Childcare assistance is available as a one-time payment, covering up to eight cumulative weeks of childcare expenses for a household’s increased financial burden to care for children aged 13 and under, and/or children up to age 21 with a disability who need assistance with daily living activities as defined by federal law.
Miscellaneous or other items assistance may be available as reimbursement for items purchased or rented for use in disaster recovery, such as gaining access to your property or cleaning. Eligible items are identified by the state, territorial, or tribal government and may include items like chainsaws and dehumidifiers.
What happens after a FEMA inspection?
After applying for assistance, you will receive a letter regarding your application status. Some applicants may receive a text message or email if they have signed up for those services. Many times, applicants will need to submit extra documents for FEMA to process their application. Do not be discouraged if you get a letter saying you need to provide additional information in order to be eligible for assistance.
I have medical and dental insurance but cannot afford the deductible.
With FEMA ONA, funds may be used for medical or dental insurance deductibles and co-payments for eligible expenses.
What if I apply but don't get the amount of support I think I'm eligible for?
Everyone has the right to appeal a decision. An administrative issue might have caused a problem with your application. If you feel the amount or type of assistance is incorrect, submit a signed, written explanation outlining why you believe FEMA’s decision is incorrect and copies of any documents supporting your appeal, including proof of your disaster losses. You must submit your appeal within 60 days of the date on your determination letter.