Texas Health and Human Services Commission
Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program: Other Needs Assistance Handbook
Effective: April 24, 2012
IHP National Eligibility Criteria
8100 National Eligibility Criteria
This section of the handbook describes the regulatory eligibility requirements in 44 CFR 206.110-120 and the categories for which grants may be awarded.
8110 General Information on IHP National Eligibility Criteria
To be eligible for an Other Needs Assistance (ONA) grant, disaster victims must have serious needs or necessary expenses as a direct result from a catastrophic disaster declared a major disaster by the President, and be eligible in at least one of the need categories with the approved cause of damage established by FEMA. The victim must comply with the following requirements:
- Apply for disaster assistance to FEMA within prescribed time limits by calling the teleregistration toll-free number or completing online registration at http://www.fema.gov/assistance/register.shtm.
- Apply to all applicable available governmental disaster assistance programs. The victim must be ineligible for assistance from other programs or prove that assistance from other programs does not meet all their necessary expenses or serious needs.
- Not have previously received or refused other assistance for the specific necessary expense or serious need, or portion of expense or need, for which the victim applied.
- Agree to refund to the state the part of the grant for which:
- other assistance is received, and
- is not spent as specified in the grant award document.
- Provide all information required for determining eligibility.
- Sign a declaration that attests to being a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national or a qualified alien in the United States. The person who signs is also required to provide FEMA with a form of identification to confirm identity.
- Persons lawfully present in the United States that are not eligible to receive benefits under Section 408 include, but are not limited to, those with temporary tourist visas, student visas, work visas and temporary resident cards (INS Form I-699).
- International students applying for disaster assistance who do not have a Social Security number will be required to sign the FEMA Form 90-69B, Applicant Statement/Authorization, stating that they are a citizen or non-citizen national of the United States, a qualified alien of the United States, or the parent or guardian of a minor child who resides with the applicant and who is a citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien of the United States.
- All individuals, regardless of citizenship status, who have been impacted by a major disaster are eligible for short-term, non-cash, in-kind emergency disaster relief programs. These include search and rescue, medical care, shelter, food and water. All impacted individuals are also eligible for Disaster Legal Services and Crisis Counseling.
- There has been no change in the law or FEMA's policy regarding the delivery of services to individuals. The same policies and procedures have been in place since Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act in 1996.
- Having a Social Security number does not necessarily automatically mean that you are a qualified alien. You may be legally present in the U.S. and have a Social Security number, but not be a qualified alien.
If applying for personal property or transportation assistance, the victim must:
- Be ineligible for disaster loan assistance from the Small Business Administration (SBA) for financial reasons or prove that assistance from SBA does not meet all necessary expenses or serious needs.
Applicants may be denied grants for not meeting any one of the eligibility criteria.
Victims are eligible for assistance in the following areas without first applying to SBA:
- Funeral expenses
- Medical expenses
- Dental expenses
Lawfully Present Policy
In July 1995, the U.S. Congress passed a law directing FEMA to limit funding only to persons lawfully present in the United States. FEMA interprets this to mean that it is required to check lawful presence in the United States before it can provide non-emergency assistance to an individual. This law impacts the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHP).
An applicant to IHP must sign a declaration that attests to being a U.S. citizen, a non-citizen national or a qualified alien in the United States. The person who signs the IHP application is also required to provide FEMA or the state inspector with a form of identification to confirm identity.
Whether applications are taken by phone or in person, the person taking the application is responsible for informing the applicant of the "Declaration of Applicant" requirement. The person taking the application must inform the applicant that, at the time of FEMA inspection, FEMA will require the applicant, or another adult who resides in the same damaged structure and lived in the structure at the time of the disaster, to sign FEMA Form 90-69D. In addition, the person taking the application must further explain that no IHP assistance will be provided unless Form 90-69D is signed.
If a victim does not meet these conditions but has a child who does, the victim may apply on the child's behalf.
8120 Time Limitations
Victims must apply for disaster assistance within 60 calendar days of the date on which the disaster was declared. Applications received after the 60-day limitation period may be accepted for an additional 30 days thereafter, if the victim can establish good cause for the delay.
Extenuating Circumstances Criteria
The FEMA federal coordinating officer or designee may accept applications for an additional 30 days that are filed after the 60-day deadline, if he can find good cause for the late filing. Otherwise, he denies the application. In general, "good cause" is based on whether extenuating circumstances beyond the control of the victim prevented his filing within the allowed 60 days. Examples of extenuating circumstances are:
- hospitalization or inaccessibility to the telephone or Disaster Recovery Center; or
- inability to understand the English language media announcements.
In addition, applications from disaster victims living in counties added to the disaster declaration (after the declaration date) and who have had less than 30 days to apply automatically qualify under "extenuating circumstances" criteria.
Referrals are made by FEMA to ONA if a victim applies to SBA within the 60-day time limit, but is later denied after the 60-day deadline. These referrals are considered as meeting extenuating circumstances criteria because a victim must first apply to SBA and be denied a loan for financial reasons before a referral is made to the ONA Program.
If a victim applies to SBA after the 60-day application period, and SBA accepts the application for processing because of "substantial causes essentially beyond the control of the applicant," and then SBA denies the loan application for financial reasons, the application will be referred to ONA by FEMA for processing.
8200 Individual or Family
A family is a social unit living together and composed of:
- legally married individuals, or those couples living together as if they were married, and their dependents;
- a single person and his dependents; or
- persons who jointly own the residence, and their dependents.
An individual is a person who is not a member of a family.
8300 Additional Eligibility Criteria for Grants Provided for Flood Damage
The Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and subsequent regulations provide for certain restrictions on grants awarded to disaster victims whose property damage occurred in designated special flood hazard areas (SFHAs). (Note: These areas have been designated by FEMA as Flood Zones A and V.) To repair, replace or rebuild a home or to purchase or repair insurable contents, the eligibility worker must apply the following rules when determining eligibility for grant assistance. (Note: These restrictions do not apply to grants disbursed for non-flood damage.)
A disaster victim who lives in a designated special flood hazard area (Flood Zone A or V) and whose property damage results from flooding must live in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Plan (NFIP).
8320 Community Participation
Federally sponsored flood insurance is available only in communities that participate in the NFIP. To participate, the community must adopt and enforce the minimum floodplain management requirements specified in NFIP regulations.
Definitions of community participation in the NFIP:
- Participating — the community is enforcing the minimum floodplain management criteria of the NFIP. Flood insurance may be purchased in the community.
- Nonparticipating — SFHAs have been designated within the community for at least one year, and the community has elected not to join the NFIP. Flood insurance is unavailable in nonparticipating communities.
- Probation — FEMA has informed the community that it is not complying with NFIP's minimum floodplain regulations and may be sanctioned if corrective measures are not taken. Flood insurance is available, but a $50 surcharge is applied to each new or renewed policy. (This surcharge is an eligible ONA expense.)
- Sanctioned — The community has failed to adopt ordinances that comply with NFIP minimum floodplain management requirements, or the community has failed to adequately enforce NFIP minimum floodplain management requirements or its own floodplain management ordinances. Flood insurance is unavailable in sanctioned communities.
An applicant living in a sanctioned or nonparticipating community cannot purchase flood insurance. The applicant is eligible only for a grant for nonflood-insurable items, such as water wells, septic tanks, transportation, and medical or dental expenses. The applicant is not eligible for the flood insurance premium or for personal property grants for flood-insurable items. These restrictions apply if the damage to the property is a result of flooding and if the applicant's property is in an SFHA (Zones A or V).
Note: If the applicant permanently moves out of the "sanctioned" or "nonparticipating" community, he then becomes eligible for assistance. The applicant must provide evidence that the move is permanent by submitting a copy of a deed or lease agreement at the new location.
If FEMA designates a community as "sanctioned" or "nonparticipating," it may re-enter the NFIP with FEMA approval. Applicants denied funds for flood-insurable items on the basis that the community was sanctioned or nonparticipating at the time of the ONA decision may be reconsidered for grants for flood-insurable items once the community no longer is sanctioned or nonparticipating, as long as this occurs within 180 days from the presidential disaster declaration date. FEMA must notify ONA of any change in a community's status so that ONA staff can review these applications and provide funds.
Previous SBA Loans
The disaster victim is ineligible for grant assistance in the personal property and transportation categories if SBA denies loan assistance for the current disaster for the following reason: failure to obtain or maintain a flood insurance policy required as a condition of SBA loan assistance in a previous disaster.
8330 Flood Insurance Purchase and Maintenance Requirements
Grant assistance for flood-insurable items to disaster victims living in Flood Zone A or V is provided only on the condition that the victim agrees to:
- purchase adequate flood insurance, defined as a policy that will cover the maximum grant amount, and
- maintain flood insurance as follows:
- Homeowners: Maintain flood insurance on the residence at the flood-damaged property address for as long as the structure exists if the grantee, or any subsequent owner of that property, ever wishes to be assisted by the federal government with any subsequent flood losses for real or personal property.
- Renters: Maintain flood insurance coverage on the contents for as long as he resides at the flood-damaged property address. The restriction is lifted once the renter moves from the rental unit. (Note: Within six months of receiving the grant, renters are required to notify FEMA if they intend to occupy the damaged dwelling once repairs are made. Until FEMA receives this information from the applicant, the FIP is put on hold.)
Disaster victims who are required to purchase and maintain flood insurance will be included in a Group Flood Insurance Policy (GFIP) established under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) regulations at 44 CFR 61.17.
The premium for the GFIP is a necessary expense within the meaning of this handbook. The ONA provision of IHP shall withhold this portion of the grant award and provide it to the NFIP on behalf of individuals and families who are eligible for coverage. The coverage shall be equivalent to the maximum grant amount established under Section 408 of the Stafford Act.
The ONA Program shall provide the NFIP with records of individuals who received an ONA award and, therefore, are to be insured. Records of ONA grantees to be insured shall be accompanied by payments to cover the premium amounts for each grantee for the three-year policy term. The NFIP will issue a Certificate of Flood Insurance to each grantee. Flood insurance coverage becomes effective on the 30th day following the receipt of records of GFIP insureds and their premium payments from the ONA, and terminates 36 months from the inception date of the GFIP (60 days from the date of the disaster declaration). Before the end of the three-year period, NFIP will notify the disaster victim that he is responsible for policy renewal and the payment of all future premiums.
Insured grantees are not covered if they are determined to be ineligible for coverage-based exclusions established by the NFIP. Therefore, once grantees/ policyholders receive the Certificate of Flood Insurance that contains a list of the policy exclusions, they should review that list to see if they are ineligible for coverage. Those grantees who fail to do this may find that their property is, in fact, not insured when the next flooding incident occurs and they file for losses. Once grantees find that their damaged buildings, contents or both are ineligible for coverage, they should notify the NFIP in writing in order to have their names removed from the GFIP, and to have the flood insurance maintenance requirement expunged from the NFIP date-tracking system. (If the grantee wishes to refer to or review a Standard Flood Insurance Policy, it will be made available by the NFIP upon request.)
The ONA provision of IHP may not make a grant for flood insurable items to any individual or family who received federal disaster assistance for flood damage occurring after Sept. 23, 1994, if the property already has received federal flood-disaster assistance in a disaster declared after Sept. 23, 1994; a flood insurance purchase and maintenance requirement was levied as a condition or result of receiving that federal disaster assistance; and flood insurance was, in fact, not maintained in an amount at least equal to the maximum IHP grant amount. However, if that property was determined to be ineligible for NFIP flood insurance coverage and is in a special flood hazard area located in a community participating in the NFIP, then ONA may continue to make grants to those individuals or families who receive additional damage in all subsequent presidentially declared major disasters involving floods.
8400 Eligible Categories
8410 Personal Property
Victims may be awarded Other Needs Assistance (ONA) grants for the following types of personal property expenses:
- household items, furnishings or appliances;
- specialized tools or protective clothing and equipment required by an employer as a condition of employment;
- repairing, cleaning or sanitizing eligible personal property items; and
- computers, uniforms, schoolbooks and supplies required for educational purposes.
Personal property prices are established by FEMA. When a state administers ONA, it may add or delete personal property items, but must use the standard personal property price list established by FEMA for personal property items.
Grants may be authorized to repair or replace privately owned vehicles or to provide public transportation, within limits established by the department. The maximum allowance is based on the average cost of providing dependable transportation. The allowance is specified in the State Administrative Plan submitted annually by the grant coordinating officer for SCO and FCO approval. The maximum transportation allowance for repair is $550 up to $7,000 per serious need vehicle. The maximum replacement value cannot exceed $7,000.
Applicants are entitled to receive grants to cover damages directly related to disaster for medical or dental expenses, and repair or replacement of medical equipment. Expenses must be within the incident period established by FEMA.
Applicants are entitled to receive grants for uninsured disaster-related funeral and/or burial (or cremation) expenses associated with the death of an immediate family member, when the death is attributed directly to the disaster. A maximum allowance established by the department is based on the average cost of funeral expenses in the disaster location. The allowance is specified in the State Administrative Plan. The maximum funeral allowance is $6,500.
8450 Flood Insurance
Applicants are entitled to receive grants up to the maximum allowance established by FEMA to cover the cost of a three-year flood insurance premium. The premium amount is specified in the State Administrative Plan.
8460 Moving and Storage
Applicants are entitled to receive grants for moving and storage expenses if these expenses are incurred to avoid additional disaster damage. This includes the cost of storage of personal property while disaster-related repairs are being made to the primary residence, and the return of these items to the individual or primary residence. The primary residence must be damaged by the disaster to receive moving and storage reimbursement. Maximum grant assistance for moving and storage if $4,000.
- Expenses related to relocation of personal property from the damaged dwelling to a new primary residence are not eligible under IHP. For instance, expenses related to moving from the damaged dwelling in Texas to a new primary residence in Ohio are not eligible under IHP-ONA Moving and Storage.
Applicants may be entitled to receive grants to cover expenses for items in categories other than those described in this handbook. Other categories relate to special circumstances of a particular disaster and are determined by FEMA or state staff.
8500 Ineligible Categories
Victims are not awarded grants for the following categories:
- business losses, including farm businesses and self-employment;
- improvements or additions to real or personal property, except those required to comply with local codes or ordinances;
- real or personal property used exclusively for recreation; and
- financial obligations incurred before the disaster.
The Other Needs Assistance (ONA) Program does not cover the loss or damages to applicant property due to acts of vandalism, unless specifically stated in the State Administrative Plan or Federal State Agreement. The applicant may want to contact local law enforcement to see if any services are available.
In addition to these items, federal regulations provide that the ONA provision of the IHP is not intended to indemnify all disaster losses. The purpose of the grant program is to meet those serious needs and necessary expenses caused by the disaster. Federal regulations do not permit the purchase of items or services that are generally characterized as nonessential, luxury or decorative.