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Hurricane Sandy Disaster Assistance

When the President of the United States declares a “major disaster” anywhere in the United States or its territories, federal assistance is made available to supplement the efforts and resources of state and local governments and voluntary relief organizations pursuant to the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, as amended 42 U.S.C. 5121, et seq.  Individuals, families and businesses may be eligible for federal assistance if they live, own a business, or work in an area declared a major disaster area. Help may also be available to those who have incurred sufficient property damage or loss and do not have insurance or other resources to meet their needs.

The following New Jersey counties have been declared disaster areas by the President:

  • Atlantic
  • Bergen
  • Burlington
  • Camden
  • Cape May
  • Cumberland
  • Essex
  • Gloucester
  • Hudson
  • Hunterdon
  • Mercer
  • Middlesex
  • Monmouth
  • Morris
  • Ocean
  • Passaic
  • Salem
  • Somerset
  • Sussex
  • Union
  • Warren

If your home, apartment, or small business is located within a Presidentially declared disaster area, you should register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and/or the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) as soon as possible after the disaster.

The Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf is providing free legal help to Hurricane Sandy victims making applications for FEMA grant assistance and SBA loan applications.  If you or someone you know needs assistance filing a FEMA and/or SBA loan application, contact the attorneys at Randolph H. Wolf at (732) 741-4448.  We will provide this service free of charge to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

In addition, we are available to be retained on a paid basis assist at any stage of the grant application process including assistance with pending FEMA or SBA applications and appeals of FEMA and SBA denials.  We are also available to ensure that you receive the funds and benefits you are entitled to from insurance companies and/or from flood insurance companies.  We can also provide assistance with insurance claims for doctor and hospital bills, loss of property, loss of life, and so on.  Additionally, we are available to review your private insurance plans to see what benefits you may be entitled to.   We can also help you draw up new wills, powers of attorney, and other legal documents that may have been lost as a result of the hurricane.

FEMA APPLICATIONS

The Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides money and services to people in the disaster area when losses are not covered by insurance and property has been damaged or destroyed.  IHP is designed to help you with critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways.

IHP will not cover all of your losses from damage to your property (home, personal property, household goods) that resulted from the disaster. IHP is not intended to restore your damaged property to its condition before the disaster. In some cases, IHP may only provide enough money, up to the program limits, for you to return an item to service.

IHP does not cover business-related losses that resulted from the disaster.  By law, IHP cannot provide money to you for losses that are covered by your insurance.

While some money is available through IHP, most disaster aid from the Federal government is in the form of loans from the Small Business Administration (SBA) that must be repaid. Applicants to IHP may be required to seek help from SBA first, before being considered for certain types of IHP help. You do not have to submit an SBA loan application to be considered for FEMA rental assistance.

Program Eligibility

To receive money or help for Housing Needs that are the result of a disaster, all of the following must be true:

  • You have filed for insurance benefits and the damage to your property is not covered by your insurance. You may be eligible for help from IHP to repair damage to your property.
  • You or someone who lives with you is a citizen of the United States, a non citizen national, or a qualified alien.
  • Your home is in an area that has been declared a disaster area by the President.
  • The home in the disaster area is where you usually live the majority of the year.
  • You are not able to live in your home now, you cannot get to your home due to the disaster, or your home requires repairs because of damage from the disaster.

To receive money for Needs Other than Housing that are the result of a disaster, all of the following must be true:

  • You have losses in an area that has been declared a disaster area by the President.
  • You have filed for insurance benefits and the damage to your personal property is not covered by your insurance. You may be eligible for help from IHP to repair damage to your property.
  • You or someone who lives with you is a citizen of the United States, a non citizen national, or a qualified alien.
  • You have necessary expenses or serious needs because of the disaster.
  • You have accepted assistance from all other sources for which you are eligible, such as insurance proceeds or SBA loans.

You may not be eligible for money or help from IHP if:

  • You have other, adequate rent free housing that you can use (for example, rental property that is not occupied).
  • Your home that was damaged is your secondary or vacation residence.
  • Your expenses resulted only from leaving your home as a precaution and you were able to return to your home immediately after the incident.
  • You have refused assistance from your insurance provider(s).
  • Your only losses are business losses (including farm business other than the farmhouse and self employment) or items not covered by this program.
  • The damaged home where you live is located in a designated flood hazard area and your community is not participating in the National Flood Insurance Program. In this case, the flood damage to your home would not be covered, but you may qualify for rental assistance or items not covered by flood insurance, such as water wells, septic systems, medical, dental, or funeral expenses.

Types of Assistance Provided by FEMA

If eligible, the following types of assistance are available through IHP:

  • Temporary Housing: Money is available to rent a different place to live, or a government provided housing unit when rental properties are not available.
  • Repair: Money is available to homeowners to repair damage from the disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to make the damaged home safe, sanitary, and functional.
  • Replacement: Money is available to homeowners to replace their home destroyed in the disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to help the homeowner with the cost of replacing their destroyed home.
  • Permanent/Semi Permanent Housing Construction: Direct assistance or money for the construction of a home. This type of help occurs only in insular areas or remote locations specified by FEMA, where no other type of housing assistance is possible.
  • Other Needs: Money is available for necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster. This includes medical, dental, funeral, personal property, transportation, moving and storage, and other expenses that are authorized by law.

How to Register with FEMA

To register:

1. Apply online by visiting www.fema.gov or by phone by calling 1-800-621 FEMA (3362) (hearing/speech impaired ONLY–call 1-800-462-7585).  For more information on how to apply, visit www.disasterassistance.gov or apply on your smartphone at: m.fema.gov.  You must have the following information to register:

  • Your contact information
  •  Social security number (including your spouse’s)
  • Private insurance information, if available
  • Address and zip code of damaged property
  • Financial information
  • Contact information
  • Bank account information

The Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf will assist you in filing your FEMA application at our office for no charge.

If you are uninsured or lack the appropriate insurance coverage, an inspector will call to schedule an appointment to visit your property. In some cases, you may be contacted the same day you apply.  Within about 10 days of the inspector’s visit, you will receive a letter from IHP informing you of the decision on your request for help.

  • If you are eligible for help, the letter will be followed by a U.S. Treasury/State check or there will be a transfer of cash to your bank account. The letter will explain what the money can be used to pay for. You should use the money given to you as explained in the letter.
  •  If you are not eligible for help, the letter will give the reason for the decision. You will be informed of your appeal rights in the letter.
  • If you were referred to the Small Business Administration (SBA) for help from the SBA Disaster Assistance Program, you will receive an SBA application.

Appealing your Determination

You may appeal any decision. Appeals may relate to your eligibility, the amount or type of help provided to you, late applications, requests to return money, or questions regarding continuing help. When you appeal a decision, you are asking IHP to review your case again.  To be considered by IHP, your appeal letter must be postmarked within 60 days of the date of the individual or household decision letter’s date.

Steps for filing an Appeal:
Explain in writing why you think the decision about the amount or type of assistance you received is not correct.

    1. When submitting your letter, please include your full name, date and place of birth, and address. In addition, your letter must be either notarized, include a copy of a state issued identification card, or include the following statement, “I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.” You must sign the letter. If someone other than you or the co applicant is writing the letter, then a statement must be included saying that that person may act for you.
    2. Include the FEMA application number and disaster number (shown at the top of your decision letter) in your letter of appeal.
    3. Mail your appeal letter to:FEMA
      National Processing Service Center
      P.O. Box 10055
      Hyattsville, MD 20782 7055
    4. You can fax your appeal letter to:
      (800) 827 8112
      Attention: FEMA

For additional information on assistance programs offered by FEMA, please review the following resources:

SBA Loan Applications

Whether you rent or own your own home, own your own business, or own a small agricultural cooperative located in a declared disaster area, and are the victim of a disaster, you may be eligible for financial assistance from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  Filing deadlines for a disaster relief loan as a result of Hurricane Sandy are as follows:

      • Physical Damage: December 31, 2012
      • Economic Injury: July 31, 2013

What Types of Disaster Loans are Available?

      • Home Disaster Loans – Loans to homeowners or renters to repair or replace disaster-damaged real estate or personal property owned by the victim. Renters are eligible for their personal property losses, including automobiles.
      • Business Physical Disaster Loans – Loans to businesses to repair or replace disaster-damaged property owned by the business, including real estate, inventories, supplies, machinery and equipment. Businesses of any size are eligible. Private, non-profit organizations such as charities, churches, private universities, etc., are also eligible.
      • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) – Working capital loans to help small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, small businesses engaged in aquaculture, and most private, non-profit organizations of all sizes meet their ordinary and necessary financial obligations that cannot be met as a direct result of the disaster. These loans are intended to assist through the disaster recovery period.
      • EIDL assistance is available only to entities and their owners who cannot provide for their own recovery from non-government sources, as determined by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

What are the Credit Requirements?

      • Credit History – Applicants must have a credit history acceptable to SBA.
      • Repayment – Applicants must show the ability to repay all loans.
      • Collateral – Collateral is required for physical loss loans over $14,000 and all EIDL loans over $5,000. SBA takes real estate as collateral when it is available. SBA will not decline a loan for lack of collateral, but requires you to pledge what is available.

What are the Interest Rates?

By law, the interest rates depend on whether each applicant has Credit Available Elsewhere. An applicant does not have Credit Available Elsewhere when SBA determines the applicant does not have sufficient funds or other resources, or the ability to borrow from non-government sources, to provide for its own disaster recovery. An applicant, which SBA determines to have the ability to provide for his or her own recovery is deemed to have Credit Available Elsewhere. Interest rates are fixed for the term of the loan. The interest rates applicable for this disaster are;

No Credit Available Credit Available

Elsewhere          Elsewhere
Home Loans      1.688%    3.375%
Business Loans      4.000%    6.000%
Non-Profit Organization Loans    3.000%    3.125%
Economic Injury Loans
Businesses Cooperatives    4.000%    N/A
Non-Profit Organizations    3.000%     N/A

What are Loan Terms?

The law authorizes loan terms up to a maximum of 30 years. However, the law restricts businesses with credit available elsewhere to a maximum three-year term. SBA sets the installment payment amount and corresponding maturity based upon each borrower’s ability to repay.

What are the Loan Amount Limits?

      • Home Loans – SBA regulations limit home loans to $200,000 for the repair or replacement of real estate and $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. Subject to these maximums, loan amounts cannot exceed the verified uninsured disaster loss.
      • Business Loans – The law limits business loans to $2,000,000 for the repair or replacement of real estate, inventories, machinery, equipment and all other physical losses. Subject to this maximum, loan amounts cannot exceed the verified uninsured disaster loss.
      • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) – The law limits EIDL(s) to $2,000,000 for alleviating economic injury caused by the disaster. The actual amount of each loan is limited to the economic injury determined by SBA, less business interruption insurance and other recoveries up to the administrative lending limit. SBA also considers potential contributions that are available from the business and/or its owner(s) or affiliates.
      • Business Loan Ceiling – The $2,000,000 statutory limit for business loans applies to the combination of physical, economic injury, mitigation and refinancing, and applies to all disaster loans to a business and its affiliates for each disaster. If a business is a major source of employment, SBA has the authority to waive the $2,000,000 statutory limit.

What Restrictions are there on Loan Eligibility?

      • Uninsured Losses – Only uninsured or otherwise uncompensated disaster losses are eligible. Any insurance proceeds which are required to be applied against outstanding mortgages are not available to fund disaster repairs and do not reduce loan eligibility. However, any insurance proceeds voluntarily applied to any outstanding mortgages do reduce loan eligibility.
      • Ineligible Property – Secondary homes, personal pleasure boats, airplanes, recreational vehicles and similar property are not eligible, unless used for business purposes. Property such as antiques and collections are eligible only to the extent of their functional value. Amounts for landscaping, swimming pools, etc., are limited.
      • Noncompliance – Applicants who have not complied with the terms of previous SBA loans are not eligible. This includes borrowers who did not maintain flood and/or hazard insurance on previous SBA or Federally insured loans.

For more information, contact SBA by calling (800) 659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s Web site at www.sba.gov.  Applicants can apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure Web site at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.

The Law Office of Randolph H. Wolf will assist you in filing your SBA loan application at our office for no charge.

For additional information on assistance programs offered by the SBA, please review the following resources:

      • SBA’s Disaster Loans Fact Sheet at:

http://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/NJ%2013367%20Fact%20Sheet%2011-1-12.pdf

 

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