Duplication of benefits: what it means

When determining an applicant’s eligibility for federal disaster assistance, FEMA will verify that there is no duplication of benefits, sometimes called double-dipping.

  • By law, FEMA cannot provide financial assistance when another source, such as insurance, has provided assistance for the same disaster-caused need or when such assistance is available from another source. For example, FEMA cannot pay for home repairs if the homeowner is already receiving sufficient funds from his or her insurance company for the same repairs.
  • FEMA’s Individuals and Families program provides financial assistance and direct services to eligible individuals and families with essential expenses and serious needs who are uninsured or underinsured.
    • This assistance is not a substitute for insurance and cannot cover all damages caused by the severe storms and flooding that occurred in May and June. Financial assistance from FEMA is intended to meet basic needs and support the applicant’s disaster recovery needs.
  • FEMA cannot provide program assistance for individuals and families when another source has already provided assistance or when assistance is available from another program, insurance, crowdsourcing, or another source.
    • If the operation is for general disaster recovery, and not for specific assistance provided by FEMA, it is not considered duplication.
  • The order in which FEMA and its partner agencies provide assistance to disaster victims is established to avoid payment for the same service from other sources, including:
    • Emergency assistance from voluntary agencies
    • Insurance payments on claims
    • If the applicant is eligible, he or she will receive a grant from FEMA’s Individual and Family Program, including housing assistance and/or FEMA’s other needs assistance program.
    • Loans from the Small Business Administration
    • Unmet needs from voluntary agencies
  • Insured applicants must provide FEMA with documentation that identifies their insurance settlement or benefits before FEMA will consider their eligibility for assistance categories covered by insurance.
  • While FEMA cannot provide assistance for disaster-caused needs covered by insurance benefits, FEMA can provide assistance to meet an applicant’s immediate needs when their insurance benefits are delayed for 30 days or more through no fault of their own. If this is the case, the applicant may be considered for initial rental assistance.
  • Other disaster-related funding providers, such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, may consider the amount and intended use of assistance a victim receives from FEMA. This is also to prevent duplication of benefits.
  • People receiving assistance are urged to keep receipts for disaster expenses for three years to prove that the money was used to meet disaster-related needs. If a recipient receives an insurance settlement to cover the same expenses, he or she must reimburse FEMA. Applicants’ cases may be reviewed to confirm that the money was used appropriately.
  • To save time, apply online or by phone before visiting a disaster recovery center:
  • Visiting DisasterAssistance.gov
  • Call FEMA directly at 800-621-FEMA (3362)
  • Using the The FEMA app

The FEMA Civil Rights Office works to ensure that assistance is distributed equitably regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, English proficiency, or economic status. Any disaster survivor and the general public can contact the Civil Rights Office if they feel they are victims of discrimination. FEMA’s Civil Rights Office can be contacted at the toll-free number 833-285-7448Multilingual operators are available by pressing #2 for Spanish.

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