Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program: Other Needs Assistance Handbook

Foreword

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

In 1974, the Disaster Relief Act (Public Law 93-288) was passed to help relieve state and local governments and citizens of suffering and damage resulting from disasters. The act's objectives include broadening the scope of existing disaster relief programs and providing new federal assistance programs for both public and private losses sustained in disasters. One new program created by the act was the Individual and Family Grant Program (IFGP). The act specified that the IFGP was to be administered by the Governor of the state.

In 1975, the Texas Disaster Act was passed to clarify and strengthen the roles of the Governor, state agencies, and local governments in disaster response and recovery. Under this law, the Governor may designate the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to provide financial aid to individuals and families qualified for disaster relief.

In 1988, the Stafford Act (Public Law 100-707) amended the 1974 law. The new law included an increase in the maximum grant allowable under the IFGP from $5,000 to $10,000, to be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index.

In October 2002, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-390) amended the Stafford Act. The new law eliminated the Individual and Family Grant Program and Federal Temporary Housing Program as separate entities and established a new program, Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households (IHP). The new program has two provisions of assistance:

  • Housing Assistance (HA) is 100 percent funded and administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
  • Other Needs Assistance (ONA) is 75 percent funded by FEMA and 25 percent by the state. The state may administer the ONA program. HHSC will administer ONA in Texas. Combined Housing and Other Needs Assistance to an individual or household cannot exceed the FEMA maximum grant amount adjusted annually to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index.

HHSC administers the ONA provision of the IHP in major disasters declared by the President in accordance with 44 CFR, Part 206, Subpart D - Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households. The new law was implemented for all disasters declared after Oct. 15, 2002.

1000 Introduction

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

1100 Program Description

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

The Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHP) is a financial assistance program that responds to people whose needs result from natural or man-made disasters.

The IHP was established by an October 2000 congressional amendment to the Stafford Act. It combines the Individual and Family Grant Program and Disaster Housing Program. The new program has two provisions of assistance:

  • Housing Assistance (HA)
  • Other Needs Assistance (ONA)

Housing Assistance is 100 percent federally funded and administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Other Needs Assistance is 75 percent federally funded and 25 percent state funded. ONA may be administered as follows:

  • Option 1 – solely by FEMA
  • Option 2 – jointly by the state and FEMA
  • Option 3 – solely by the state

In Texas, ONA is administered jointly (Option 2) by the state and FEMA.

ONA enables states to make grants to individuals and families who, as a result of a major disaster, are unable to meet their necessary expenses or serious needs. It is intended to provide grants to disaster victims for whom other assistance, including government assistance, is either unavailable or inadequate. The program is not intended to indemnify all disaster losses or to purchase items or services which may be characterized as nonessential, luxury or decorative.

Individuals and Households Program (IHP)

Provisions of IHP Assistance
Housing Assistance
100% Federal Funds
Other Needs Assistance
75% Federal and 25% State Funds

Disaster-related housing assistance for applicants displaced from their pre-disaster primary residences and/or whose pre-disaster residences are rendered uninhabitable, and who are underinsured or have no insurance to provide for their housing needs.

Disaster-related assistance for other necessary expenses and serious needs. Assistance is restricted to applicants who have applied for a loan from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and who have been denied for a loan or been approved for a loan that is insufficient to cover the loss.

  1. Temporary Housing
    • Financial
      1. Lodging Expenses
      2. Rental
    • Direct (MH/TT)
  2. Repairs
    • Financial
  3. Replacement
    • Financial
  4. Permanent Housing Construction
    • Financial or Direct
  1. Medical, Dental and Funeral Expenses
    • Financial
  2. Personal Property, Transportation and Other Expenses
    • Financial

      Personal Property:
      (*ID)

      Transportation:
      • Vehicle Repair/Replace (*ID)
      • Public Transportation Expenses

      Other Expenses:
      • Moving and Storage Expenses (*ID)
      • Child Care
      • Group Flood Insurance Policy (*ID)
      • Miscellaneous Expenses

Note: One or more types of housing assistance may be made available to meet the disaster-related needs of individuals and households.

*ID denotes income dependent assistance (contingent on SBA denial).

Forms of Assistance:
Financial — Assistance in the form of a check or electronic funds transfer (EFT)
Direct — Assistance provided directly to applicants that is not a cash grant

1200 Administration

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) administers the 206.110-120 ONA provisions of the IHP program according to federal regulations, primarily 44 CFR, Part 206, published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The Texas Disaster Act of 1975 established the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) of the Texas Department of Public Safety as the Governor's authorized representative in disaster planning, response and recovery. Under the state emergency management plan published by TDEM, administration of the ONA is assigned to HHSC. Within HHSC, the program is administered by the Emergency Services Program of the office of Business and Regional Services (BRS). HHSC regional employees are recruited to support the administration of the program. Temporary workers are hired as needed according to the size and severity of the disaster and released from employment after fulfilling their responsibilities.

1300 Funding

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

Funding is 75 percent federal and 25 percent state. The state share comes from the Governor's Disaster Contingency Fund or funds available to the administering agency. Funding for administrative costs is 100 percent federal up to five percent of the federal share of the grants.

2000, Definitions and Acronyms

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

2100 Definitions

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

Governing laws, regulations, and plans include terms with meanings related to disaster situations and disaster assistance programs. The following terms are of special significance to HHSC employees.

Appeal Authority — State official(s) who makes appeal decisions.

Assistance from Other Means — Assistance, including monetary or in-kind contributions, from other governmental programs, insurance, volunteer or charitable organizations, or from any source other than those of the individual or family. It does not include expendable items.

Automated Construction Estimating (ACE) — Automated disaster inspection and verification process. Verifiers use a GRID Palm-pad to record disaster-related damage to the applicant's property.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) — Federal agency responsible for coordinating agencies to provide the unifying core for the vast national network of organizations and institutions involved in efforts to secure our nation. FEMA is part of this agency that coordinates the federal response to local, regional and national disasters.

Dependent — An individual who is normally claimed as such on the federal tax return of another, according to the Internal Revenue Code. It may also mean the minor children of a couple not living together even if the children live in the residence with the parent who does not actually claim them on the tax return.

Disaster Assistance Payment Program (DAPP) — Data from the FEMA system is transferred to DAPP. DAPP updates and maintains the file and creates payment transactions, which are sent to the HHSC system. The DAPP is maintained by HHSC Information Technology. Its primary function is to create a payment file to submit to the state comptroller for printing of disaster assistance checks.

Disaster Emergency Management Council — Group appointed by the Governor and composed of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and speaker of the House of Representatives. The council is staffed by the heads of state agencies, boards and commissioners, and by representatives of organized volunteer groups. The council advises and assists the Governor in all matters relating to disaster preparedness, emergency services and disaster recovery.

Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) — A one-stop, information-gathering center for disaster victims seeking information about their application for disaster assistance. Services at the center are administered cooperatively by state and federal disaster assistance agencies.

Disaster District Emergency Management Committee (DDC) — Group made up of representatives from state agencies, local governments and locally organized volunteer groups that work with the ranking Texas Department of Public Safety officer as disaster-area counterparts to the Emergency Management Council.

Duplication of Benefits (DOB) — Grants, gifts, loans, insurance settlements and cash received from other sources designated for the same purpose as Other Needs Assistance (ONA) grant awards are considered a duplication of benefit. Section 312 of the law prohibits duplication of benefits by disaster relief programs. FEMA provides information about benefits provided by disaster relief organizations and insurance for each person who registers for assistance.

Expendable Items — Include items such as linens, clothes and basic kitchenware (pots, pans, utensils, dinnerware, flatware, small kitchen appliances).

Family — 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.

Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHP) — Financial Assistance program created by Public Law 106-390, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, Section 206. IHP combines FEMA's Disaster Housing Program and the state-administered Individual and Family Grant Program under one new program.

Federal Award Coordinating Officer (FACO) — State official assigned management responsibility for the IHP program. In Texas, the FACO is the Emergency Services Program (ESP) leader.

Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) — Person designated by the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate federal assistance activities in any emergency or major disaster.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — Federal agency responsible for coordinating responses to disasters among other federal, state, local and volunteer agencies.

Flood Hazard Area — Area shown on a national Federal Insurance Administration map as an area prone to flooding. These areas are designated Zone A, 100-year floodplain, and/or Zone V, coastal high-hazard area.

Floodplain Administrator (FA) — County or city official responsible for administering the community's floodplain ordinances or codes.

Housing Assistance (HA) — Federal program that provides assistance to applicants displaced from their pre-disaster primary residences.

Individual — Person who is not a member of a family as "family" is defined in this section.

Joint Field Office (JFO) — Temporary location in the disaster area where the federal coordinating officer and representatives of various disaster relief agencies coordinate relief and recovery efforts.

Major Disaster — Hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high or wind-driven water, tsunami (tidal wave), earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, drought, fire, explosion or other catastrophe is considered a major disaster.

National Eligibility Criteria — Standards which are prescribed by FEMA regulations and which state and federal governments must apply when determining eligibility for grants.

National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS) — FEMA's computer system.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) — A federal program enabling individuals to purchase flood insurance.

National Processing Service Center (NPSC) — FEMA offices in Denton, Texas; Hyattsville, Maryland; or Mt. Weather, Virginia, that administer inspection services and provide central database maintenance and operations for disaster assistance applications.

National Teleregistration Center (NTC) — FEMA site in Denton, Texas, that takes applications for assistance from disaster victims over a toll-free phone line.

Necessary Expense — Cost of a serious need (see "serious need" as defined in this section).

Other Needs Assistance Program (ONA) — Financial assistance program created under Public Law 106-390, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, Section 206, to award grants to eligible people who incur necessary expenses or who have serious needs as a result of a disaster. These grants are not intended to repay individuals or families for all disaster losses or to allow purchase of items or services that are nonessential, luxury or decorative.

Owner-occupied — Residence that is occupied by the legal owner; or a person who does not hold formal title to the residence but is responsible for payment of taxes, maintenance of the residence, and pays no rent; or a person who has lifetime occupancy rights in the residence with formal title vested in another.

Primary Residence — Dwelling where the victim lives during most of the calendar year.

Sanctioned Communities — Communities that the NFIP designates as having flood-hazard areas but which do not participate in NFIP.

Serious Need — Requirement for an item or service essential to an individual or family to prevent, mitigate or overcome a disaster-related hardship, injury or adverse condition.

Small Business Administration (SBA) — Federal agency mandated by Congress to provide financial assistance to victims of disasters. The SBA disaster loan program loans money at a lower-than-usual interest rate to qualifying small businesses, individuals and families to assist them in recovering from a disaster.

State Administrative Plan (SAP) — Document that describes the policies, organization and procedures for implementing the Other Needs Assistance provision of the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHP). It is updated annually and submitted for approval to the state coordinating officer (SCO) and federal coordinating officer (FCO).

Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly the Emergency Food Stamp Program) — Through the Lone Star Card Program, the Issuance Services Unit coordinates with the HHSC Office of Family Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the HHSC Office of Eligibility Services to determine the need for and implementation of the SNAP Program in disaster situations.

State Coordinating Officer (SCO) — Person appointed by the director of the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) to coordinate state and local disaster assistance efforts with those of federal government agencies. As the representative of the director of TDEM, the state coordinating officer exercises powers granted to the Governor by the Texas Disaster Act of 1975, and delegated by the Governor to TDEM.

Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) — A comprehensive all-hazard emergency management program for the state; assists cities, counties and state agencies in planning and implementing their emergency management programs.

Texas Identification Numbers (TIN) — Assigned numbers for applicants that are based on each applicant's Social Security number or a unique assigned number for applicants without a Social Security number. A list of unique TIN numbers are requested by ONA from HHSC Fiscal Management, which receives numbers from the Comptroller’s Office. TIN numbers are used to track and process all payments made to an applicant.

 

2200 Acronyms

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

ACE — Automated Construction Estimating System

ARC — American Red Cross

ARTS — Accounts Receivable Tracking System

BRS — Business and Regional Services

CPI — Consumer Price Index

DAPP — Disaster Assistance Payment Program

DHS — Department of Homeland Security

DPS — Department of Public Safety

DRC — Disaster Recovery Center

DSHS MHSA — Department of State Health Services Mental Health and Substance Abuse Division

EFT — Electronic Funds Transfer

ESF — Emergency Support Function

ESP — Emergency Services Program

FACO — Federal Award Coordinating Officer

FCO — Federal Coordinating Officer

FEMA — Federal Emergency Management Agency

 

FMS — Fiscal Management Services

 

GFIP — Group Flood Insurance Policy

HA — Housing Assistance

HHSAS — Health and Human Services Accounting System

HHSC — Health and Human Services Commission

IA — Individual Assistance

IFGP — Individual and Family Grant Program

IHP — Individuals and Households Program

IRS — Internal Revenue Service

IT — Information Technology

NEMIS — National Emergency Management Information System

NFIP — National Flood Insurance Program

NPSC — National Processing Service Center

NTC — National Teleregistration Center

OES — Office of Eligibility Services

OFS — Office of Family Services

OGC — Office of General Counsel

OIG — Office of Inspector General

ONA — Other Needs Assistance

RDAC — Regional Disaster Assistance Coordinator

RDAS — Regional Directors of Administrative Services

SBA — Small Business Administration

SCO — State Coordinating Officer

SFHA — Special Flood Hazard Areas

SOC — State Operations Center

TCEQ — Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

TDEM — Texas Division of Emergency Management

TDI — Texas Department of Insurance

TIN — Texas Identification Number

TINS — Texas Identification Number System

TWC — Texas Workforce Commission

VID — Vendor Identification

3000 Disaster Assistance Organizations

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

3100 State Agencies

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

 

3110 Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Overview

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

HHSC is assigned the following responsibilities under the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan:

  • Coordinate with other State Emergency Management Council (SEMC) members in developing a program and state plan for the prevention of and reaction to natural disasters, man-made disasters, nuclear disasters or crisis relocation.
  • Provide, in coordination with other council members, services to evacuees from disaster areas. Services are provided in cooperation with recognized volunteer organizations and include family welfare inquiries, care, shelter, feeding and financial assistance as authorized by state and federal statutes.
  • Function as a liaison between the council and the federal Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture and Texas Department of Agriculture.
  • Prepare and maintain Annex V of the State of Texas Emergency Management Plan.

In the state plan, HHSC is the primary agency responsible for the Food and Water Emergency Support Function (ESF). HHSC is responsible for providing supplemental assistance to local governments by identifying and obtaining good water and ice resources for distribution to areas affected by a disaster.

Within HHSC, the Emergency Services Program of the office of Business and Regional Services is responsible for coordinating these efforts.

The Texas Disaster Act of 1975 delegated administration of the Individual and Family Grant Program (IFGP) to HHSC. The IFGP has been eliminated and replaced with the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHP). The IHP was established by an October 2000 congressional amendment to the Stafford Act. The Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provision of the IHP is administered by the state.

 

Other Needs Assistance (ONA) Program

After the president declares a major disaster, several state and federal assistance programs may be available to victims in the designated disaster area. One of these state and federal assistance programs is the ONA program, through which the governor may request that federal funds be made available to the state. The ONA program provides funds to individuals and families who are unable to meet necessary expenses or serious needs as a result of a major disaster.

These grants enable the individuals or families to meet necessary expenses or serious needs for which other governmental assistance is either unavailable or inadequate. However, the grants are not intended to repay individuals or families for all disaster losses or to allow purchase of items or services that are nonessential, luxury or decorative. ONA staff may also award grants for emergency needs when victims face an unreasonable delay in receiving assistance from other means. The individual must repay the grant when he receives other assistance that duplicates the grant awarded by the ONA.

Eligible Categories — Eligible serious need and necessary expense categories are as follows:

  • Personal property
  • Transportation
  • Medical and dental
  • Funeral
  • Moving and storage
  • Child care
  • Flood insurance
  • Other

Grant Amounts — The maximum grant amount is adjusted annually in October, at the beginning of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA's) fiscal year, to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. The total grant amount must not exceed the maximum amount as provided by federal law for the fiscal year the disaster is declared. The total federal grant is 100 percent of Housing Assistance and 75 percent of Other Needs Assistance. Housing Assistance is funded and administered by FEMA. ONA is administered by the state. The federal government contributes 75 percent of ONA funds only on condition that the state contributes the remaining 25 percent. The federal contribution includes up to 5 percent of the federal share of grants for administrative purposes in the ONA provision of the IHP.

Federal Award Coordinating Officer (FACO) — In this handbook, the federal award coordinating officer (FACO) is assigned management responsibility for the ONA provision of the IHP. Federal regulations define the FACO as the state official assigned management responsibility for the ONA program.

 

3120 Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM)

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), formerly known as the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management (GDEM), is the entity designated by the Governor to administer and supervise disaster recovery operations in Texas. TDEM is a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). The director of the division serves as chairperson of the Governor's Disaster Emergency Management Council.

TDEM staff supervises disaster response and recovery operations supplied by several major state agencies. These state agencies operate within or adjacent to the disaster area. Staff assist victims in leaving or returning to their homes, and they also attempt to prevent looting. If disasters are severe enough, local peace officers and the National Guard or military forces assist staff in these activities. Major state agencies that provide evacuation and protective services are the National Guard (operating under orders from the Governor), Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

Texas Disaster Act of 1975

The Texas Disaster Act of 1975 (H.B. 2032, 64th Legislature and amendments) provides that preparation for a disaster be structured around organized government. The Governor is responsible for ensuring that the state and its people are protected from disaster-caused dangers. The Governor appoints the director of DPS as director of TDEM. The director serves as the Governor's designated agent in the administration and supervision of the provisions of the Texas Disaster Act of 1975. The director of TDEM is the designated chairperson of the Governor's Disaster Emergency Management Council as established by the Texas Disaster Act of 1975. The director then appoints the state coordinating officer.

State Coordinating Officer (SCO)

The state coordinating officer (SCO) coordinates and allocates state resources related to the disaster recovery effort. The SCO works with the federal coordinating officer (FCO) to establish and operate disaster recovery centers (see Item 3211, Federal Emergency Management Agency). The purpose of disaster recovery centers (DRCs) is to provide information to disaster victims about their application for assistance. After the President declares a major disaster or emergency, the state coordinating officer prepares necessary documents for recovery and rehabilitation on behalf of the Governor and the state. He also certifies applications for public assistance. The state coordinating officer is responsible for coordinating with FEMA to publicize the availability of the IHP to potential applicants. He reports on the operation of the ONA provision of the IHP to TDEM, and is responsible for ensuring that both state and federal audits are carried out.

Every November, the HHSC Emergency Services Program (ESP) leader, FEMA's Region VI Disaster Response and Recovery Division director, and the SCO review the state administrative plan for the ONA provision of IHP. This review is for compliance with state and federal laws and regulations and other FEMA guidelines. As the authorized representative of the director of TDEM, the SCO uses powers granted the Governor by the Texas Disaster Act of 1975.

State Operations Center (SOC)

The State Operations Center (SOC) is located at the DPS headquarters in Austin. The center houses TDEM's administrative offices and serves as the nucleus of a communications network. The SOC is located 30 feet underground and can also serve as a secure location from which state government can operate during a natural or man-made catastrophe.

Representatives selected from the state agencies participating in the Governor's Disaster Emergency Management Council staff the state operations center. The center operates 24 hours a day if a disaster threatens the people or property of the state. ESP staff train HHSC volunteer staff. HHSC volunteer staff will serve at the state operations center in the event that ESP staff is unavailable. The list of volunteers is updated annually. TDEM staff also operate local emergency operations centers. Regional disaster assistance coordinators act as liaisons with local emergency operations center directors.

Regions are notified of the HHSC telephone number at the SOC when the center is opened. People attempting to send information to or receive information from the SOC contact the HHSC representative in the center. If telephones are not working, an HHSC employee with proper identification may send a brief message to the HHSC representative in the SOC through any DPS car radio.

 

3130 Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has staff available to victims at disaster recovery centers. Staff assists victims in interpreting their insurance coverage. Staff provides information about filing insurance loss claims and offer advice on future insurance.

 

3140 Texas Workforce Commission (TWC)

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has staff available to victims at disaster recovery centers. Staff accepts applications for unemployment insurance for victims whose jobs were adversely affected by disasters. If possible, staff also assists in placing victims in new jobs.

 

3150 Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) staff provides floodplain information to disaster assistance programs. Some programs use the information to determine who is required to purchase and maintain flood insurance as a condition of receiving assistance.

 

3200 Federal Agencies

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

 

3210 Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is directly in charge of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

 

3211 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for coordinating federal response to disasters. When the President declares a major disaster, FEMA appoints a federal coordinating officer (FCO) for the disaster area. The FCO serves as chairperson for a council of representatives from other federal, state, local and volunteer agencies that responds to the needs of disaster victims.

Federal and state coordinating officers work together to provide coordinated services to victims. The federal and state coordinating officers manage the operation of disaster recovery centers. The purpose of disaster recovery centers (DRCs) is to provide information to disaster victims about their application for assistance. Their responsibilities include the following:

  • Determining the number and location of the centers, if any.
  • Opening and closing centers, or consolidating centers when services are no longer needed in all locations.
  • Ensuring that centers are adequately staffed.
  • Releasing announcements to the media about recovery operations, center locations and services, and hours of operation.

National Processing Service Center (NPSC)

FEMA's National Processing Service Centers (NPSC), located in Denton, Texas; Hyattsville, Maryland; and Mt. Weather, Virginia, administer inspection services and provide central database maintenance and operations for disaster assistance applications. Each disaster declaration is assigned to a NPSC for processing. NPSC transmits application and inspection information to the ONA Program Office. In addition, NPSC's database includes information on assistance provided to an applicant from all disaster recovery programs. ONA workers use this information to avoid duplication of benefits.

National Teleregistration Center (NTC)

FEMA's National Teleregistration Center (NTC), located in Denton, Texas, takes applications for assistance from disaster victims over a toll-free telephone line. In addition, applications taken at Disaster Recovery Centers are forwarded to NTC for inclusion in the database. NTC transmits application information to the NPSC for further processing.

Housing Assistance Program (HA)

FEMA's Housing Assistance (HA) Program is responsible for accepting applications from victims who need temporary assistance in meeting housing needs. Housing Assistance is a provision of the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). Housing Assistance provides disaster-related assistance for applicants displaced from their pre-disaster primary residences and/or whose pre-disaster residences are rendered uninhabitable. Assistance is only provided if the applicant is uninsured or under-insured.

Types of housing assistance provided:

  • Temporary housing
  • Financial
  • Lodging expenses
  • Rental
  • Repairs
  • Replacement
  • Permanent housing construction

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

FEMA's NFIP provides flood insurance to people living in communities with flood hazard areas. The rates are made affordable through a federal subsidy. In return, communities must adopt and administer local floodplain management measures to help protect lives and prevent property from future flooding. In disaster recovery centers, NFIP representatives are available to assist victims in filing claims through their flood insurance policies.

 

3220 Small Business Administration (SBA)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

In addition to loaning funds to small businesses, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is authorized to loan up to $200,000 to victims for permanent repair of housing and/or for up to $40,000 for replacement of personal property. SBA loans funds to victims if they can show the ability to repay it. These funds are loaned at an interest rate substantially below the rate for regular lending agencies. Victims must use these proceeds to restore real property and household goods to pre-disaster conditions or as close to pre-disaster conditions as possible. Victims may not use SBA loans to upgrade property. SBA's disaster loan program is designed to cover losses for which victims have not received insurance recoveries or other assistance.

SBA coordinates with FEMA to enable disaster victims to apply for assistance. In each disaster declaration, SBA provides income eligibility criteria for FEMA application takers to use when completing the application. Victims whose incomes are inadequate or who cannot qualify for a loan are given an "instant decline" to show that they did apply to SBA and did not qualify for a loan. These applicants are referred to the ONA for grant consideration. Victims who meet the minimum income criteria are sent an SBA application packet to complete and are advised how to obtain assistance in completing the application. Once the application is received by SBA, a credit check is conducted. Next, SBA inspectors verify the extent of the damage and estimate the cost of repairing the property. Loan representatives then notify both the victims and FEMA staff of the amount of the loan if victims are determined eligible or, if they are denied, the reason for loan denial. Those victims denied for financial reasons are referred to the ONA provision of the IHP.

 

3230 Internal Revenue Service (IRS)

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides consultants in disaster recovery centers to inform victims about procedures for claiming losses on their income tax returns. Immediate adjustments may be made on returns for the previous year in order to obtain a refund, or the losses may be claimed on the current year's tax return.

 

3300 Volunteer Agencies

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

 

 

3310 American Red Cross (ARC)

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The American Red Cross (ARC) establishes shelters to house victims during and after disasters. Shelters may be open for several days or until victims can return to their homes or arrange for more appropriate facilities. ARC staff also feed, provide cots and blankets, and attempt to meet the immediate needs of victims.

The ARC also provides the following:

  • Counseling
  • Reuniting families
  • Authorizing payments for home repairs
  • Providing first aid supplies
  • Replacing eyeglasses
  • Meeting emergency health needs
  • Issuing vouchers

Note: These vouchers are used to purchase food, clothing, personal items, transportation, cleaning supplies and housing up to 30 days, utility deposits and limited amounts of emergency furniture or appliances.

ARC staff provide assistance during the emergency period in disaster recovery centers and for several months after the disaster, if necessary.

Applicants who receive maximum grants and have remaining unmet needs are referred to the ARC for additional assistance.

 

3320 Other Volunteer Agencies

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

Churches and service organizations provide other sources of support to victims. Staff of organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Mennonites may provide emergency supplies of food and clothing or assist in repairing damaged homes. Various church and service groups may be organized in a disaster area under a governing body, such as Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAID). These groups may provide various forms of aid, including transportation to governmental disaster program offices. Staff may also help victims apply for assistance from other disaster assistance programs and obtain the requested documents to support applications.

4000 HHSC Disaster Roles and Responsibilities

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

4100 Overview of HHSC Disaster Roles and Responsibilities

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

Authority for the administration of the Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provision of the IHP is delegated from HHSC's office of Business and Regional Services (BRS) to its Emergency Services Program (ESP). Administration of the program is the responsibility of the ESP leader. ESP is responsible for providing program direction and technical assistance to the regions. Each region is responsible for providing a regional disaster assistance coordinator (RDAC) and HHSC volunteer staff to deliver appropriate and timely services.

The ESP represents HHSC at the State Emergency Management Council. In the State Emergency Management Plan, HHSC is the primary agency responsible for Emergency Support Function #11, Food and Water. This involves coordinating with other state agencies and volunteer organizations to provide food, water and ice to communities hit by a disaster.

 

4200 Emergency Services Program (ESP)

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

The Emergency Services Program (ESP) is responsible for administration of the ONA provision of the IHP. The ESP is a component of the office of BRS. In this handbook, the federal award coordinating officer (FACO) is assigned management responsibility for the ONA. Federal regulations define the FACO as the state official assigned management responsibility for the ONA provision of the IHP.

Responsibilities of ONA Administration

The general responsibilities of ONA administration are as follows:

  • Assisting the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in conducting damage surveys to determine the size and scope of the disaster and assessing the need for a presidential disaster declaration.
  • Staffing the disaster recovery center in coordination with TDEM and FEMA, if staff and budget resources are available.
  • Negotiating with the state coordinating officer and the federal coordinating officer.
  • Providing program direction and technical assistance to regional staff.
  • Negotiating with other disaster assistance agencies.
  • Conducting program monitoring activities.
  • Providing internal and external reports as required.
  • Coordinating program activities with appropriate HHSC support offices to provide for processing of grant benefit payments.
  • Developing policy and providing policy interpretations and guidelines.
  • Maintaining the IHP/ONA handbook and administrative plan.
  • Developing and maintaining training packages, and providing training to ONA program staff.

 

4300 State Office Support

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

 

4310 Disaster Assistance Task Force

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

A Disaster Assistance Task Force consists of representatives of state office units with specific support functions relating to the ONA provision of IHP and HHSC responsibilities as a member of the State Emergency Management Council. This task force coordinates plans for coping with disasters. If necessary, the ESP leader initiates requests for assistance from support units. The ESP leader sends requests to task force representatives, who contact their regional counterparts if the assistance is needed at the disaster site. Task force members include but are not limited to representatives from the following offices:

  • Office of Business and Regional Services (BRS)

    The Emergency Services Program (ESP) is a component of the office of BRS. Emergency Services administers the ONA provision of IHP and coordinates with the Disaster Assistance Task Force in a presidential disaster declaration. 

    The Emergency Services Program is also responsible for:
    • training regional disaster assistance coordinators;
    • arranging inter-regional loans of staff, if necessary to support implementation of the ONA, to include:
      • supervisory staff and workers for the disaster recovery center(s), and
      • supervisory staff to assist administration of the ONA;
    • ensuring that adequate travel arrangements are made for staff and that the host region arranges lodging for staff on loan; and
    • representing HHSC at the State Emergency Management Council, which includes:
      • coordinating with Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) to provide commodities to voluntary agencies providing mass care and shelter in disaster situations, and
      • coordinating the shipment of water and ice to communities in a disaster situation.
  • Office of Family Services
    • Lone Star Technology within the HHSC Office of Family Services assists and coordinates with the issuance of SNAP for assistance with food in disaster situations.
  • System Support Services
    • Business Services
    • Human Resources
  • Information Technology
    • Production/Operations
  • Financial Services
    • Fiscal Management
  • Office of Inspector General (OIG)

 

4320 System Support Services

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

Business Services Department

The Business Services Department is responsible for the following functions:

  • Providing a representative to act as a liaison to ESP. The representative works with the regional business management officer or designee to meet the needs of the ONA.
  • Coordinating with regional staff to acquire appropriate office space (if needed), equipment and supplies. Business Services staff secure needed supplies when the ESP leader notifies them of the number of staff to be hired, if needed.
  • Providing for scheduled and unscheduled delivery of forms and supplies for ONA staff at the Joint Field Office and at state office, if needed.
  • Arranging for the return of unused material to state office at the close of each disaster operation, if needed.
  • Arranging for the emergency printing of forms, if needed.

Human Resource Department

Human Resource Department staff assist in resolving personnel policy issues related to the ONA. HR is responsible for:

  • hiring temporary workers,
  • providing temporary workers with a functional orientation, and
  • providing ongoing support to ESP in personnel matters.

 

4330 Office of Family Services

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Lone Star Technology

The Issuance Services Unit coordinates with HHSC Office of Family Services, USDA and the HHSC Office of Eligibility Services to determine the need for and implementation of the SNAP in disaster situations.

 

4340 Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Special Nutrition Services

Special Nutrition Services coordinates with USDA, FEMA and the Red Cross to provide commodities in disaster situations.

 

4350 Information Technology (IT)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Production/Operations

The Production/Operations section of the Information Technology (IT) Division is responsible for production and distribution of payment files for the ONA grant payments.

 

4360 Financial Services Division

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Fiscal Management Services

Fiscal Management Services staff process the payment files for delivery to the state comptroller's office, disburse warrants to victims and provide reports for audit purposes. These duties involve the following tasks:

  • Process vendor identification (VID) maintenance and pay files delivered from Production Control, including distributing appropriate paperwork and obtaining appropriate signatures.
  • Process Comptroller's Exception Report, including:
    • giving "hold" information to ONA,
    • completing forms for VID file changes, and
    • giving "release" information to ONA.
  • Track disbursements and cancellations in order to provide ONA staff with accurate figures.
  • Serve as liaison between the ONA and financial management concerning:
    • returned warrants,
    • lost/stolen warrants,
    • replacement vouchers, and
    • Texas Identification Numbers (TIN) — Assigned numbers for applicants that are based on each applicant's Social Security number or a unique assigned number for applicants without a Social Security number. Lists of unique TIN numbers are requested by ONA from Fiscal Management, which receives numbers from the Comptroller’s Office. TIN numbers are used to track and process all payments made to an applicant. (See Section 12100, Overview of Automated Systems.)

 

4370 Office of Inspector General (OIG)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Office of Inspector General (OIG) staff are responsible for investigating cases of suspected criminal or administrative misconduct by state office, regional or temporary staff. In cases of suspected applicant fraud, the ESP leader refers the case to the OIG.

 

4400 Regional Offices

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Responsibilities of the Regional Director of Administrative Services

Regional directors of Administrative Services (RDASs) are responsible for appointing regional disaster assistance coordinators (RDACs). Each RDAS divides his region into areas and appoints a regional coordinator for each area; however, he designates one staff person as lead regional coordinator for the region. Regional coordinators report to the ESP leader after a disaster is declared. The ESP leader supervises regional coordinators during disaster operations.

If additional on-site administrative staff are needed during the initial two-to-three week phase of the program, RDASs may request regional coordinators to assist areas other than their own. Usually, the region in which the disaster occurs provides the administrative staff that assist regional coordinators during the first six months. In severe disasters, however, additional regional coordinators may be reassigned to assist in supervising temporary ONA staff working at the Joint Field Office (JFO) or in Austin.

RDASs evaluate recommendations from the ESP leader and regional coordinators concerning staffing needs for the Disaster Recovery Centers. If staff are not available in the affected region, the RDAS requests additional staff through the State Operations Division.

Regional Disaster Assistance Coordinators (RDACs)

ONA-related disaster assistance services may include any of the following services:

  • Appointing staff to serve in recovery centers as:
    • ONA representatives, who assist FEMA interviewers by answering ONA-related questions;
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) certification workers;
    • providers of information and referral; and
    • as needed in other capacities.
  • Developing and maintaining a list of HHSC Texas Works volunteers that includes each volunteer's address, phone number and role in the disaster.
  • Coordinating with state office ESP staff to train HHSC volunteers who work in the centers and local offices.
  • Representing ONA in the centers, when applicable. Regional coordinators meet with the ESP leader to prepare for the opening of centers and to learn procedures for operation. Staff also plan general training for center operations and specific training in the ONA provision of the IHP and SNAP policies and procedures.
  • Coordinating with state and federal information offices in announcing the program and location of offices.
  • Supervising temporary staff who perform ONA application processing services. Supervision is under the direction of the ESP leader.

5000 Presidential Declaration Process

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

5100 Introduction

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

When a disaster occurs, Emergency Services Programs (ESP) staff immediately prepare for the implementation of the Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provision of the IHP. ESP staff assist in requesting a presidential disaster declaration by participating in a damage survey. A major disaster declaration by the President is required for activation of the ONA. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) manage the initial activities in response to a disaster. HHSC's involvement is described in the following sequence of events.

 

5200 Sequence of Events

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

 

5210 Initial Disaster Response

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

During a disaster incident, local fire and police services are involved in search and rescue activities. Depending on the nature of the disaster, state and federal organizations may also be involved in search and rescue.

Immediately after a disaster incident, local officials begin initial damage assessment activities. The American Red Cross also begins initial assessment efforts because volunteer agencies are usually the first organizations to begin recovery efforts.

 

5220 Governor's Survey

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The Governor's office conducts a survey only if local officials request assistance in recovering from the damage. The Governor's office survey team is composed of representatives from the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). The team recommends to the director of TDEM whether it is appropriate for the Governor to request that the President declare a major disaster. The director then makes a recommendation to the Governor. The team considers the need for assistance to individuals and families and considers the damage to facilities, buildings, roads and bridges. HHSC state office staff and the regional disaster assistance coordinator for the affected region are usually asked to assist in the survey. HHSC staff assist in the assessment of the extent of damage to individuals' homes, furniture and vehicles; TDEM officials handle the assessment for city- and county-owned property, such as water and sewer systems, roads and bridges.

Survey Purpose — Information from the Governor's survey is needed to determine the following:

  • The magnitude of the disaster's effect on individuals and public facilities.
  • The severity of damage to property, and loss of lives and dollars.
  • The incidence period (or dates) when the damage occurred.
  • The income level of the affected population.
  • The percentage of losses that would be covered by insurance.
  • Whether there is a need to initiate various state and federal disaster assistance programs, including the Individuals and Households Program (IHP).
  • The estimated number of Other Needs Assistance (ONA) grants that would be awarded should the ONA Program be activated.
  • The estimated average ONA grant amount and estimated ONA total grant amount that would be disbursed.

As noted, the survey helps staff determine whether the damage from the disaster requires resources beyond the capabilities of local and state governments. This determination is a key factor in determining whether the Governor requests that the President declare the area a major disaster area. A presidential declaration is needed to activate the Federal Assistance to Individual sand Households Program, which consists of Housing Assistance administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Other Needs Assistance administered by HHSC. Other recovery services, such as volunteer assistance by the American Red Cross or disaster loan assistance (available for both individuals and businesses) from the Small Business Administration (SBA), do not depend on a declaration by the President. These agencies determine and implement their own criteria for providing recovery assistance to the affected community.

Factors used to evaluate the need for a presidential disaster declaration:

  • Concentration of damages — High concentrations of damages generally indicate a greater need for federal assistance than widespread and scattered damages throughout a state.
  • Trauma — The degree of trauma is considered in presidential disaster declarations. Some of the conditions that might cause trauma are:
    • large numbers of injuries and deaths;
    • large-scale disruption of normal community sanctions and services; and
    • emergency needs such as extended or widespread loss of power or water.
  • Special populations — If the low-income, elderly or unemployed are affected, they may have a greater need for assistance.
  • Voluntary agency assistance — Consideration is given regarding the extent to which voluntary agencies and state or local programs can meet the needs of the disaster victims.
  • Insurance — The amount of insurance is considered, because by law federal disaster assistance cannot duplicate insurance coverage.
  • Average amount of individual assistance by state — There is no set threshold for recommending individual assistance, but the following averages may prove useful to states and voluntary agencies as they develop plans and programs to meet the needs of disaster victims:

    Large states (like Texas)
    • Number of homes estimated major damage/destroyed = 801
    • Number of Housing Assistance applications approved = 4,679
    • Number of Other Needs Assistance approvals = 2,071
    • Dollar amount of ONA assistance = $4.6 million
    • Combined assistance = $14.1 million

Survey Methods — The method(s) of survey depends upon the type of disaster and the program data to be documented.

An aerial survey, organized by the TDEM, may be used. The extent of damage and isolated areas of damage can be seen from the air, so this method is especially effective in disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes and widespread flooding.

The state or state-and-federal team usually conducts a survey by vehicle, driving through the area to verify damage and geographic boundaries. If requested, the ESP leader or designee represents HHSC on the state survey team. Depending on the circumstances, state office staff may ask regional staff to participate in the survey.

The director of TDEM usually determines survey methods after consultation with local and state officials. TDEM officials also make arrangements with local officials to meet with survey team members to show them the damaged areas. The survey team counts damaged homes, apartment units and mobile homes and classifies the damage as affected, minor, major or destroyed. Team members also record the estimated average income level of persons in the affected area and the percentage of homes that are insured for the type of damage incurred.

 

5230 Governor's Request

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

In Texas, TDEM staff prepare the Governor's request for a presidential disaster declaration. If the Governor asks the President to declare an area a major disaster area, the Governor must provide documentation of the damages and describe the state's plan for recovery operations. The Governor's request must indicate that the state:

  • will implement the state emergency management plan,
  • has disaster-caused needs beyond state and local capabilities, and
  • will commit reasonable expenditure of state and local funds.

The Governor's request is sent to FEMA's regional headquarters in Denton, Texas.

 

5240 FEMA Regional Office Recommendation

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

FEMA regional staff make a recommendation, which is sent to FEMA national office in Washington, D.C. The recommendation must indicate that there are disaster-caused needs and available resources to meet those needs. The recommendation states whether aid available under the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000, Public Law 106-390, is required.

 

5250 FEMA National Office Recommendation

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The FEMA national office makes a recommendation to the President. The recommendations by state and regional federal officials are analyzed and considered. Additional information is obtained, if needed. If a declaration is recommended, FEMA prepares the documents for the President's signature.

 

5260 Major Disaster Declaration

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The President must determine if the disaster caused damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance under Public Law 106-390, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000. Major disaster assistance goes beyond the local jurisdiction's emergency services. It supplements the efforts and available resources of state and local governments and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship or suffering the disaster caused. Damage to public and private property is considered.

A major disaster declaration by the President activates the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households (IHP) Program, and its two provisions, Housing Assistance and Other Needs Assistance.

 

5270 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

 

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

A request for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) SNAP (formerly emergency food stamp) declaration is separate from a request for the presidential declaration of a major disaster. Therefore, HHSC staff must be prepared at regional and state office levels to survey and determine the need for requesting both USDA and presidential declarations.

6000 Taking Applications

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

6100 Introduction

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

 

Immediately after a presidential disaster declaration, federal and state officials meet to begin preparations for accepting applications to the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHP) and Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan program. The method of taking applications for disaster assistance is teleregistration and online registration.

 

6200 National Teleregistration Center (NTC)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

 

6210 Application-Taking by Hotline

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

The National Teleregistration Center (NTC) is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The NTC houses a national toll-free telephone bank and computer center through which FEMA helps disaster victims by accepting their registration for assistance and providing information necessary for their recovery. The NTCs are located in Denton, Texas; Mt. Weather (near Berryville), VA and Hyattsville, MO.

A major advantage of the NTC is timeliness. Toll-free lines are always available, thus enabling disaster victims to call within hours of the President declaring a disaster. This compares to an average of four or five days to set up a walk-in application center in affected areas, which had been the traditional method of intake.

The NTC computer system is used to record vital caller data and to electronically transmit the data to disaster recovery programs.

The NTC first took calls from disaster victims in October 1989. Since that time, the Center has been involved in over 100 major disasters and millions of calls have been taken.

When calling FEMA's teleregistration number, applicants should have the following information:

  • the physical and mailing address of the damaged property, including ZIP code;
  • directions to the property;
  • a telephone number where the applicant can be reached; and
  • the types of insurance carried on the property, if any.

Once the applicant is registered, a FEMA inspector will call within seven to 10 days to set up an appointment.

 

6220 Process for Disaster Victims

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

  • Call to apply for assistance (National Teleregistration number is 1-800-621-3362) or register online.
  • The information provided by the applicant is put into the FEMA computer system.
  • Call a help line for assistance with questions. The FEMA National Help Line number is 1-800-621-3362 (same as Teleregistration number).
  • Disaster victims may make an optional visit to a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) to receive more information after they have applied by teleregistration or online.
  • Inspector will call to schedule an appointment with the applicant.
  • Inspector will visit the applicant's damaged property.
  • If the applicant is eligible, disaster housing check will arrive.
  • If applicant is referred to SBA, SBA application packet will arrive in the mail.
  • If applicant is referred to ONA, ONA check will arrive, if eligible.
  • Call FEMA Fraud Hotline if you suspect someone is filing false damage claims. The number is 1-800-323-8603.

 

6230 Online Application

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Note: The online application is now available in Spanish. Individuals who would like to apply for assistance in Spanish via telephone should call 800-FEMA (3362).

The applicant may fill out the online application by going to https://www.disasterassistance.gov/. This is a new method that will provide many users the opportunity to apply online and/or modify any information via the Internet.

Note: Completing more than one registration will delay the processing of your case.

Applicants use the following process to register online:

  • Applicants enter their personal information into the screen.
  • Applicants follow the steps in the process.
  • Applicants create an account to save their application.

Applicants use the following steps to check their registration:

Step 1

  • Wait 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours, you will be able to check the status of your application.

Note: If applicants do not wait 24 hours they may not see their registration. This does not mean they are not registered. It may simply mean that their registration has not been processed yet. Applicants should not re-register. Re-registering more than once will result in a delay of their application.

Step 2

Applicants may check the status of their application by:

  • using their PIN and password to log in;
  • reviewing their claim online; and
  • calling 1-800 FEMA (3362) if applicants do not see their claim and it has been more than 24 hours since they received their PIN and password.

 

6300 Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs)

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

 

 

6310 Introduction

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) is a facility established in, or in close proximity to, a community affected by the disaster where victims can meet face-to-face with federal, state, local and volunteer agencies to:

  • discuss their disaster-related needs;
  • obtain information about disaster assistance programs;
  • teleregister for assistance;
  • update registration information;
  • learn how to complete the SBA application; and
  • request the status of their Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program application.

 

6320 DRC Locations

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are places where victims can obtain information about their application for assistance. Disaster victims should first register by calling the toll-free number. However, if they have not registered, telephones are available at the DRC to teleregister for disaster assistance. After the presidential declaration, one or more centers are opened in the disaster area. The centers are located in schools or other public facilities that are well-known locally, and large enough to have parking, indoor waiting areas and other facilities to accommodate the public.

Mobile centers may be used to provide services to victims in areas where the damage is not as concentrated and may be less severe. Representatives of the various public agencies travel from one location to another and set up in pre designated public facilities. Centers are established for as long as necessary to allow people to learn about the programs and obtain applications.

 

6330 Agencies in DRCs

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The types of agencies represented in DRCs depend on the type of disaster and the needs of the victims as shown in the survey information. The federal coordinating officer is the liaison between centers and federal agencies to ensure the latter's participation. The state coordinating officer is the liaison between the centers and local agencies and governments.

 

6340 DRC Operations

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

ONA staff and the federal government are responsible for helping applicants by answering questions about application deadlines and furnishing other information concerning the requirements for assistance.

FEMA and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) share responsibility for releasing public information about the locations and hours of operation of DRCs. Depending on the need, centers may be open for a few days or several weeks, seven days a week, and 10 or more hours each day. Center staff should ensure that victims who work and are in the process of assessing the damage are able to apply for services.

FEMA staff train volunteers or reserve personnel to work the registration desk as registrars. The registration desk is the first point of interview for victims. Registrars refer victims to appropriate agencies.

ONA staff are available in the disaster assistance centers to answer questions that concern the ONA provision of the IHP and that are beyond the expertise of the FEMA registrar.

 

6350 HHSC Participation

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

ONA staff are available to assist in providing registrars and other center staff with ONA information and analysis. HHSC staff also handle any questions regarding referral to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly the Food Stamp Program). To be able to explain the ONA provision of IHP and answer questions, ONA staff attend all center meetings and training sessions, especially those conducted before opening. During the center's operation, staff provide technical assistance about the ONA program and also explain any program handouts. Staff should work closely with the FEMA registrars, exit interviewer and center manager to resolve problems that arise.

The ESP leader and the regional disaster assistance coordinator determine how to provide program representation needed in the centers. Their decision is based on the number of centers open and the availability of staff. They may ask the regional director of administrative services (RDAS) for the staff needed. The RDAS supplies the needed staff, or requests additional staff from other regions.

7000 Setting Up the ONA Office

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

7100 Location Options

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The department may choose to locate the Emergency Services Program (ESP) leader and staff in either:

  • state office locations in Austin, or
  • the joint field office (JFO) in the disaster location.

 

7110 State Office Headquarters

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Since 1990, the department has chosen to use the available office space assigned to the ESP in Austin. However, in certain situations, such as following a large hurricane, office space may be insufficient to house the additional temporary workers hired to process applications. For these situations, the department may choose to co-locate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the disaster area's joint field office, or rent additional office space in Austin.

 

7120 Joint Field Office (JFO)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The JFO is temporarily located in the disaster area to coordinate disaster relief efforts. This office is staffed with representatives of state and federal agencies having disaster assistance responsibilities. The federal coordinating officer (FCO) and state coordinating office (SCO) are responsible for locating suitable office space to house program representatives and their on-site staff.

Normally, the ONA staff hired to process applications will work in Austin. The ESP leader will be on-site in the JFO during start-up procedures for coordination and negotiations with the SCO and FCO. Negotiations usually concern such matters as:

  • legislative and media briefings,
  • approval of the State Administrative Plan,
  • unique aspects of the disaster that may require policy and/or procedural changes or clarifications,
  • recent operational changes or limitations of other disaster recovery organizations that may affect ONA operations, and
  • contractor briefing.

Upon the return of the JFO to Austin, a designated staff person will represent the ONA in the JFO.

The JFO usually functions in the same location the entire time the individual and public assistance programs are being administered.

 

7200 Administrative Expenses

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

HHSC's Fiscal Management Services provides the ESP a Speed Chart code specific to each disaster. Business Management Services staff are notified of the Speed Chart code so that all expenses for staff, equipment and supplies may be charged to it.

 

7210 Speed Chart Codes

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

All administrative expenses for the disaster, except the salaries of permanent agency staff, are charged to the ESP Speed Chart code. Expenses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Travel expenses of staff working in recovery centers outside their headquarters' cities.
  • Salary, travel and per diem for temporary staff. Note: Other travel by HHSC employees that is not disaster related may not be charged to the ESP Speed Chart code. Per diem and travel is allowed only when HHSC employees are working outside their headquarters' cities.
  • Rental expense for ONA office space (if applicable), copier(s), telephones, utilities, postage and other business management-related expenses.

 

7220 Employee ID Numbers

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

 

Employee ID numbers are established by Human Resource Services for use in the ONA office. These temporary numbers are used for temporary staff hired to assist in processing applications. Temporary staff include experienced disaster reservists and local hires.

Employee ID numbers are comprised of an 11-digit number.

Staff may establish as many units as necessary. Typical unit designations are:

  • recovery and investigations,
  • hotline,
  • eligibility,
  • special needs, and
  • data entry.

 

7300 Supervisory Staff

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The ONA manager ensures the availability of adequate staff to be responsible for supervising temporary staff. The ONA manager assigns HHSC supervisors or staff who have administrative skills and experience and sufficient knowledge of HHSC administrative policies to supervise effectively. These HHSC supervisors are trained in ONA policy.

 

7310 Hiring and Supervising Temporary Staff

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Recruiting and Hiring

The ESP leader or designee coordinates recruiting and hiring with the state office Human Resource Services officer assigned to the disaster assistance task force. Recruiting and hiring of temporary staff are done at the state office level for local hire staff and experienced disaster reservists.

At-Will Termination

In response to the needs of the ONA office, staff may be hired on a temporary, or "at-will termination," basis. This status permits appointments to be made to the ONA for the duration of the disaster. Persons selected may have knowledge, skills or abilities related to disaster assistance programs.

All "at-will termination" ONA staff are placed in specifically designated status for ONA. These jobs are exempt from job posting and selection, promotion requirements and from the HHSC merit regulation (that is, minimum qualifications are waived).

"At-will termination" jobs are classified according to the classification plan developed by Human Resource Services for the ONA office.

"At-will termination" or "temporary" ONA staff must sign time-limited agreements stating that as employment-at-will employees, they acknowledge that they are subject to separation from employment at any time without prior notice. They have no complaint or grievance appeal rights concerning termination decisions.

Leave

Temporary staff are entitled to annual leave after six months of employment with the state. Temporary staff are immediately eligible for sick, emergency, substitute, compensatory or military leave in the same manner as HHSC probationary employees.

Staff Changes

Supervisors must coordinate staff changes and upgrades with the ESP leader.

Supervisory Requirements Concerning Temporary Staff

All temporary staff receive an abbreviated session (one-half day) of personnel training along with their job-specific training. Temporary staff also receive a copy of the HHSC work rules from Human Resource Services.

Most HHSC jobs have a six-month probationary period to allow for employee development. However, the grant program for each disaster must be completed in 18 months. Therefore, there is no time for supervisors to do extensive counseling to overcome problems in job performance. Instead, supervisors should emphasize from the beginning the expectations regarding adherence to work rules, production and quality standards. Conferences concerning problem areas should be brief, as should any documentation resulting from the conference. Because of the urgent, short-term nature of the program, it is neither necessary nor advisable for supervisors to discuss a problem repeatedly with employees. It is best for supervisors to dismiss temporary employees who do not perform according to work standards.

8000 IHP National Eligibility Criteria

Revision 20-3; Effective November 20, 2020

 

8100 National Eligibility Criteria

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

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

Revision 20-3; Effective November 20, 2020

 

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 https://www.disasterassistance.gov/.
  • 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
  • Moving and storage expenses
  • Child care expenses
  • Miscellaneous 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

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

 

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

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

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

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

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.)

 

8310 Restrictions

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

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

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

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

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

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

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

 

8410 Personal Property

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

Victims may be awarded Other Needs Assistance (ONA) grants for the following types of personal property expenses:

  • clothing;
  • 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.

 

8420 Transportation

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

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 $9,000 per serious need vehicle. The maximum replacement value cannot exceed $9,000.

 

8430 Medical/Dental

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

 

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.

 

8440 Funeral

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

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 $9,000.

 

8450 Flood Insurance

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

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

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

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.

 

8470 Child Care

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

Applicants are entitled to receive grants for costs associated with providing child care services to families as part of emergency sheltering efforts (including the operation of stand-alone child care centers). This includes the lease, purchase or construction of temporary facilities to re-establish child care services provided prior to a disaster, as well as assistance in repair, restoration or replacement of facilities. This also includes reimbursement for the cost to provide services and for the facility and its operations. The maximum amount of assistance is up to eight weeks of child care or the maximum allowed amount for child care, whichever is less.

  • Assistance is limited to child care facilities operated by a governmental or eligible private nonprofit (PNP) entity prior to a disaster. Child care facilities that are privately owned and operated are not considered eligible applicants for FEMA reimbursement.
  • In order for private nonprofit organizations to be considered for reimbursement, the applicant must first apply for a disaster loan through the SBA. If SBA does not approve the loan or approves a loan for less than the amount required to repair the disaster damage, the applicant may apply to FEMA for assistance for the difference.

 

8480 Other

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

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

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

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;
  • landscaping;
  • real or personal property used exclusively for recreation; and
  • financial obligations incurred before the disaster.

Vandalism Policy

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.

9000 Processing Applications

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

9100 Overview

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Individuals or families who meet federally established eligibility requirements may apply for a grant under the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHP). These individuals or families must have serious needs or necessary expenses resulting from a catastrophe declared a disaster by the President and must be eligible in certain categories. The total grant for all categories may not exceed the maximum established by federal law. The maximum grant amount is adjusted annually, at the beginning of the fiscal year (October), to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. The grant may not duplicate assistance received from insurance or other agencies; therefore, the grant determination process requires close coordination and exchange of information between the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and other agencies. See Item 10130, Duplication of Benefits, for more information.

When a disaster victim completes an application through teleregistration or online, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff refer him to the Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provision of IHP if (a) he has uninsured losses and the Small Business Administration (SBA) declines a loan for income reasons, or (b) if he has uninsured medical, dental or funeral expenses. FEMA damage assessment staff verify losses through a home visit, and document ownership and primary residency. Inspection information is transmitted from the Automated Construction Estimator (ACE) system to FEMA's National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS) at the assigned Processing Service Center (NPSC). NPSC notifies ONA staff of cases ready to be worked by transmitting the case via NEMIS. ONA staff access NEMIS to review application, inspection and duplication of benefits information.

After a review process, ONA staff notify the victim of the decision and, if the application is approved, of the requirements for using the grant. The victim is also notified of his right to request a reconsideration if he does not agree with the decision. If the victim requests reconsideration, ONA staff notify him by letter of the review decision and of his right to formally appeal to the HHSC Hearings Department.

The disaster victim is referred to as the applicant in the following sections.

 

9200 Loss Verification

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

To determine eligibility for participation in the ONA provision of IHP, the applicant's claim for disaster losses must be verified for each category of assistance. For personal property and transportation losses, verification involves an on-site inspection of the damaged property by an inspector. Claims for assistance regarding medical/dental/funeral expenses must be supported by bills or receipts. NEMIS contains information about assistance from other agencies such as the SBA, American Red Cross, FEMA-administered Housing Assistance (HA) provision of the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHA), and National Flood Insurance Program. The applicant must provide private insurance coverage information when he applies. He will be informed that his ONA application will be processed only if his insurance settlement does not cover his disaster losses and he requests assistance by re-contacting FEMA on the toll-free number provided. For uninsured applicants, the worker must determine eligibility, based on serious need and necessary expense criteria, and calculate the amount of grant or deny the application.

 

9210 FEMA Loss Verification

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

FEMA staff provide ONA staff most of the verification data about uninsured ONA applicants who are ineligible for an SBA loan. FEMA is responsible for performing most of the required verifications in these categories:

  • housing (including documentation of home ownership and primary residency),
  • personal property, and
  • transportation.

Inspectors enter damage report information into the ACE system. ACE data is downloaded to NEMIS for review by FEMA's Housing Assistance and ONA eligibility staff.

 

9220 ONA Loss Verification

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

The ONA staff is responsible for verifying:

  • medical/dental claims;
  • funeral claims;
  • child care claims; and
  • moving and storage claims.

Note: ONA staff may also be responsible for verifying transportation, personal property and miscellaneous claims.

 

9300 Conflict of Interest

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

All ONA staff must avoid any conflict of interest between their assigned duties and personal interests. Staff must avoid directing victims applying for grants to specific contractors for home repairs or to a service center for repair of personal property. Staff must also avoid processing cases of close friends or relatives. These cases should be referred to the eligibility supervisor. If the potential conflict involves the eligibility supervisor, referral should be made to the grant coordinating officer. In any situation involving conflict of interest, the case should be referred to the next highest level within the department's organizational structure. Details on department rules regarding conflict of interest and standards of conduct are in the Human Resources Manual, Chapter 4, Employee Conduct. Supervisors of temporary employees should determine if this information was given to their employees during personnel orientation and, if not, ensure that it is provided to them during ONA training.

 

9400 Confidentiality

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

ONA procedures for safeguarding the privacy of applicants and the confidentiality of information will comply with HHSC's policy concerning public inquiries and disclosure of information, which includes HIPAA compliance.

 

9500 Case Flow

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The disaster victim applies for a grant by calling the toll-free number at the National Teleregistration Center (NTC). Telephone applications are directly entered into the computer system at the NTC.

The NTC transmits application information to FEMA's computer system, NEMIS, at the National Processing Service Center (NPSC). Applications listing income below the minimum required for referral to the SBA loan program are coded as SBA denials. NPSC assigns the applications to the FEMA contract monitor for assignment to individual inspectors. However, medical/dental and funeral cases are transmitted directly to the ONA office.

The inspector makes a home visit and completes the inspection report. Inspectors enter information into the Automated Construction Estimator (ACE) by using a Grid Palm Pad to record inspection information. Individual inspectors transmit case inspection information to the ACE mainframe computer in Redwood City, Calif.

The completed inspection report information is downloaded to the NPSC. NPSC review unit staff, who are trained in Housing Assistance program policies, review the application and inspection information and determine eligibility for the Housing Assistance provision of IHP. NPSC then notifies the ONA program office via electronic transmittal which applications are ready to work.

ONA staff receive an electronic transmittal of cases ready to be worked. Workers access FEMA's NEMIS computer system to review application, inspection and duplication of benefits information. ONA automation staff also download the application information into the HHSC System.

The ONA eligibility worker determines grant eligibility on cases that are not automatically determined by NEMIS, enters the decision in NEMIS, and determines which notices must be mailed to the applicant. Cases marked with "IDV_FAILED," in the banner on NEMIS, indicates the applicant’s name and Social Security number do not match and will be sent an IDV_Failed denial letter and be given 60 days to comply with identification verification. Case decisions are normally reviewed by a supervisor before transmittal from NEMIS to the ONA payment system.

Case decision information is transmitted from the ONA computer system to the HHSC System. For approvals, checks or electronic funds transfers are issued by the Comptroller of Public Accounts office, returned to the Health and Human Services Accounting System (HHSAS), and sent to the applicants.

FEMA is responsible for mailing notification letters to the applicant's mailing address.

If additional information has been requested from the applicant, the work packet for that category automatically is sent to the Pending Receipt file in NEMIS until the information is received or the due date arrives. All correspondence will have the FEMA NPSC mailing address. When correspondence is received from the applicant, NPSC staff scan the document in NEMIS and transmit a "pending" work packet to ONA. ONA staff review the document and take appropriate action to determine eligibility. If the due date arrives without receipt of information, the file is automatically denied for that category. If information is received, the document is placed in NEMIS and a workpack is submitted to a worker for a decision.

10000 Grant Categories

Revision 21-1; Effective August 10, 2021

10100 General Criteria

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

10110 Serious Need and Necessary Expense

Revision 20-1; Effective June 1, 2020

The criteria of serious need and necessary expense are applied to all categories of grant assistance. Serious need for an item or service is present if the item or service is essential for an applicant to reduce or overcome a disaster-related hardship, injury or adverse condition. A necessary expense is the cost of the item or service. Grants are awarded either to fill serious needs or to reimburse applicants for necessary expenses already incurred.

"Serious need" and "necessary expense" are synonymous terms and imply that the grant program is intended to provide funds for essential items and services. It is not intended to fully indemnify disaster losses (that is, restore the recipient fully to pre-disaster condition), or to purchase items or services that may generally be characterized as nonessential, luxury, or decorative. For an item to be considered a "serious need" and deemed a "necessary expense," the item must be eligible based on category-specific policy and have an acceptable verification of disaster-caused damages. In addition, federal regulations require grants to meet needs but prohibit the program from duplicating benefits. Essential items or services paid for by private insurance coverage or by other disaster assistance organizations must not be duplicated by grant funds. The terms "serious need" and "necessary expense" imply that all disaster losses are not covered by the Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provision of Individuals and Households Program (IHP) unless the loss creates a hardship. For example, if damage occurred to three bedrooms of furniture in a single-person household, ONA would pay only one bedroom allowance. Likewise, if an applicant owned two televisions and one was damaged and one not, ONA would not pay for the damaged unit. Although a television may be an essential appliance, the applicant has access to the second undamaged one and therefore, the replacement of the damaged television is not essential.

The maximum grant amount that may be awarded to an individual or family is limited by federal law. The 2002 Disaster Mitigation Act established a maximum grant, to be adjusted annually. Each federal fiscal year the maximum amount is adjusted based on the Consumer Price Index.

10120 Eligibility Test

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

The worker applies the following eligibility test guidelines in making a grant determination:

  1. Is the item or service in an eligible category of assistance?
  2. Is the need for the item or service a direct result of the disaster?
  3. Is the item or service essential to the applicant in this particular instance; that is, is there a serious need for the item or service — is it a necessary expense?
  4. Is the applicant unable to meet the need for the item or service from another program or resource?

Example: The applicant claims that his vehicle was damaged by flood.

  1. Is transportation an eligible category of assistance?
  2. Is the need for vehicle repair a direct result of the disaster (and within the incidence period)?
  3. Is vehicle repair essential to the applicant's present situation? (Is there a serious need to repair this vehicle, or does he have a second, undamaged vehicle that would meet his transportation needs?)
  4. Is the applicant unable to meet the need for vehicle repair from another resource? (Has SBA declined a loan? Was there no insurance coverage that would cover essential repair expenses?)

10130 Duplication of Benefits

Revision 21-1; Effective August 10, 2021

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA's) National Processing Service Center (NPSC) operates as a clearinghouse for exchange of information on assistance provided to applicants by disaster aid programs and private insurance. This information is shared with programs to avoid duplicating disaster assistance benefits. Once ONA staff approve or deny a grant, the information is entered by ONA staff in FEMA's National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS) computer system. This enables FEMA to keep and share a complete record of disaster aid provided to all victims who have registered for assistance.

The ONA provision of IHP prevents duplication of benefits by deducting other assistance for a particular need or expense from the total serious need and necessary expenses amount. However, assistance from other means does not include the value of expendable items. As described in Section 2000, Definitions and Acronyms, expendable items are defined as linens, clothes and basic kitchenware (pots, pans, utensils, dinnerware, flatware, small kitchen appliances).

Assistance from other means includes, but is not limited to:

  • American Red Cross (ARC),
  • Housing Assistance provision of IHP,
  • National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP),
  • Small Business Administration (SBA), and
  • private insurance.

Exception

The ONA provision of IHP may award grants for the applicant's emergency needs if there is an unreasonable delay in receiving assistance from other services. If the applicant is awarded an ONA emergency grant, he must reimburse the department when assistance from another source is received. For example, if the applicant has insurance coverage that should meet his essential needs for repairs but the insurance company is bankrupt or in receivership, the settlement may be delayed for months. In this case, a grant may be provided with the condition that the applicant repay any portion of the grant that is later covered by the insurance settlement. (See Section 10210.2, Insurance Considerations.)

The following chart illustrates possible duplication of benefits by agencies participating in disaster assistance programs.

Duplication of Benefits
ONA Category Other Sources of Assistance
1. Personal Property
  1. Insurance – Contents settlement
  2. SBA – Personal property loan
  3. ARC – May provide clothing, furniture, appliances, work tools and medical equipment. Expendable items such as clothing and basic kitchenware (pots, pans, etc.) are not duplications.
2. Transportation
  1. Insurance – Settlement on vehicle
  2. SBA – Personal property/transportation loan
  3. ARC – May provide funds for vehicle repair
3. Medical/Dental
  1. Insurance
  2. ARC – May pay medical costs
4. Funeral
  1. Insurance
  2. ARC – May provide funds
5. Flood Insurance
  1. Existing flood insurance policy
6. Moving and Storage
  1. Insurance
7. Child Care
  1. Insurance
  2. FEMA's Public Assistance Program
8. Other

10200 Standard for Other Needs Assistance

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

10210 Eligibility Criteria and Guidelines

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

This section describes the overall eligibility criteria and guidelines HHSC will use to process the Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provision of the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHP) under the Stafford Act 42 U.S.C. 5174(e).

10210.1 Housing

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

Under the provisions of the IHP:

  • Housing Assistance for repair/replacement of owner-occupied primary residences is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Housing Assistance is funded 100 percent by FEMA.
  • HHSC administers the ONA provision of the IHP. Funds for housing repair/replacement are not authorized to be paid by the state.

10210.2 Insurance Considerations

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

During registration, the applicant reports any type(s) of insurance coverage. If the applicant has insurance to cover the losses incurred during the disaster, the application will not be referred to Other Needs until the applicant provides the necessary insurance documentation to FEMA that the settlement will be significantly delayed, denied or insufficient to meet his or her needs. (See exception in Item 10130, Duplication of Benefits.)

If an applicant has necessary expenses and serious needs not covered by insurance, they are referred to Other Needs even though they may have insurance for other necessary expenses and serious needs. Some categories also must be considered for the Small Business Administration (SBA) prior to being referred to Other Needs. For example, an applicant's residence is destroyed by a tornado. The applicant has homeowner's insurance, but does not have medical insurance. The application for medical assistance is routed for review, even though the applicant's homeowner's insurance or SBA loan may cover damage to the residence.

Insured applicants must exhaust all means of insurance coverage (for example, flood, homeowner's, medical, dental and funeral) up to the policy maximum or be denied additional compensation from their insurer to be considered for ONA assistance. Insurance coverage (and SBA loans) will limit ONA program grants by reducing the grant amount to avoid duplication of benefits. If there is a single cause of damage, the reduction is not based on a line item list; it is based only on the total FEMA verified loss, less the applicant's insurance award (including deductible). If there are multiple causes of damage (for example, flood and wind-driven rain) then line item payments must be considered to avoid duplication of benefits.

FEMA Verified Loss
– SBA Loan Amount
– Applicant's Insurance Award
– Applicant's Insurance Deductible
= ONA Grant Award

10210.3 SBA Considerations

Revision 21-1; Effective August 10, 2021

Applicants must first apply for an SBA loan to be considered for SBA-dependent ONA. The SBA-dependent ONA categories are Transportation, Personal Property and Group Flood Insurance Policy. Applicants who receive partial SBA loans with the SBA code of DECFdl will also be referred for SBA-dependent ONA.

Medical, Dental, Moving and Storage, and Miscellaneous are known as non-SBA dependent ONA categories and no referral from the SBA is required prior to processing.

The income test: For SBA dependent categories, whether the applicant is immediately referred to SBA or ONA depends on his or her ability to repay a low-interest loan. Applicants with an SBA code of FIT (failed income test) are immediately referred for all ONA categories. SBA provides FEMA with income test tables that determine if the applicant's income is sufficient to repay an SBA loan.

The income test is conducted on behalf of SBA for the mutual benefit of FEMA and SBA. If the applicant's income is below the amount SBA considers necessary to support a loan, the application is routed for review. An application whose income level is at or above the amount SBA considers necessary to support a loan is referred to SBA.

Self-employment: Applicants whose primary source of income is from self-employment and who sustain business losses are automatically referred to SBA. However, if an applicant fails the income test, he or she will be referred to ONA for non-business-related expenses or serious needs.

Example: An applicant, when registering for assistance, says that he designs web pages as a contractor in his apartment. He states that he has extensive damage to both his computer equipment and his furniture in his bedroom. This applicant also reports that he needs to move and find another place to live. The applicant will be inspected for real and personal property damage by the inspector for non-business-related losses. The inspector will not record his computer as an eligible expense. His income was below the income test; therefore, the application was referred to ONA.

SBA may refer an applicant to ONA in one of the following ways:

  • Summary decline: After interviewing the applicant, an SBA representative determines that the applicant will be unable to repay a loan. The applicant receives an SBA "summary decline" and the application is routed to ONA.
  • Formal decline: The applicant submits a formal loan application. If the loan is denied, SBA refers the application to ONA.
  • Limited (partial) approval: The applicant submits a loan application and is approved for a loan. The amount of the loan is limited by the applicant's ability to repay, and the loan limit is less than the amount of damage verified by SBA. The application is referred to ONA.

The NEMIS database is used to track an applicant's status with regard to SBA. When applications are entered into the NEMIS database, referrals to ONA through the income test or through summary declines are electronically forwarded. If the applicant must complete an SBA loan application, this is recorded in the database, and the application is not forwarded to ONA until SBA formally declines the application or provides a limited loan approval. FEMA will not conduct SBA policy reviews.

Refusal to apply for, or to accept, an SBA loan: If the applicant is referred to SBA through the income test but refuses to submit a loan application to SBA, the applicant is ineligible for assistance from ONA that is SBA dependent. Similarly, if an applicant refuses to accept an SBA loan or to accept the full amount of the loan, he or she is ineligible for SBA dependent ONA.

Late SBA applications: FEMA will accept applications to the IHP for 60 days after the declaration date, or for as long as applications are accepted. In some cases, the formal decline issued by SBA occurs after the application period has expired. If the applicant applied to SBA in a timely manner and was subsequently referred to ONA by SBA after the application period, FEMA will accept and process the application. SBA determines if it should accept an untimely loan application based on the circumstances involved. If SBA accepted the loan application, FEMA will subsequently accept and process an application for ONA.

10210.4 Processing Applications

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

After an application has been taken, processing is determined by the needs of the applicant and his status with regard to insurance, SBA and ONA.

SBA status and inspections: An applicant with only personal property and/or transportation damage who has passed the income test will not receive a FEMA inspection. After the applicant is 1) formally denied by SBA, or 2) has received a loan from SBA that is insufficient to meet his necessary expenses and serious needs, an inspection will be conducted.

Once the applicant has received an SBA decline, and appropriate verification has been performed, the application is routed to ONA for processing.

Withdrawal from ONA: An application may be withdrawn from ONA as described below. In all cases, FEMA will notify the applicant by letter.

  • Voluntarily withdraw from all categories: the applicant may withdraw voluntarily from ONA, either in writing or by contacting FEMA or the state.
  • Voluntarily withdraw by category: the applicant determines that he or she does not need assistance for a specific category or type of assistance, but may need assistance in other categories. For example, an applicant determines that he or she does not require assistance with a medical expense, but still requires assistance with personal property needs.
  • Withdraw - no contact: The inspector has been unable to contact the applicant to arrange for an inspection. The applicant will be notified that his application will be withdrawn from consideration unless contact is made within 15 days.

Information Updates: NEMIS must be updated to reflect all actions taken regarding an application. These actions include, but are not limited to:

  • determinations of assistance (awards or denials) and award amounts,
  • payment information,
  • withdrawals,
  • supplemental award amounts,
  • application update information, such as changes of addresses and telephone numbers provided by the applicant,
  • SBA status,
  • recoupments, and
  • returned checks.

Note: When the state administers the ONA provisions of IHP, all mail correspondence will be FEMA's responsibility.

FEMA will retain all documents related to the application review and the eligibility determination for a period of three years after close-out to comply with FEMA manual records management file requirements.

10210.5 Verification

Revision 10-1; Effective May 10, 2010

Necessary expenses and serious needs are verified through on-site inspections or by using supporting documentation (for example, estimates, bills, receipts or written statements) submitted by the applicant. It should be noted verification does not require follow up via telephone calls to confirm the expense, unless the authenticity of the document is in question.

Handling of Original Documents

Normal eligibility case processing may require specific additional documents to complete the case. Those documents are to be sent from the applicant (either by mail or fax) directly to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Processing Service Center (NPSC) to be scanned into the applicant's permanent file. The caseworker may then complete the case by viewing those documents in the FEMA National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS).

Only the Special Needs Unit and the Hearings Unit may request that applicants send documents directly to the Emergency Services Program office. The following are procedures for the handling of original documents from the applicant:

  1. Special Needs/Hearings caseworker receives original documents (either by mail or fax).
  2. Special Needs/Hearings caseworker then makes sure the applicant's name and registration ID number are on each page, and faxes the documents to FEMA NPSC, using the Other Needs Assistance (ONA) Coversheet.
    *Note: The Coversheet is used so that an additional ONA work packet is not created in NEMIS.
  3. Special Needs/Hearings caseworker then makes a copy of the original documents and mails the original documents, including the ONA Coversheet, to FEMA NPSC using overnight delivery.
  4. Special Needs/Hearings caseworker checks the applicant's case periodically to ensure that the original documents were received by NPSC and have been scanned into the applicant's permanent file in NEMIS.
  5. Once it has been confirmed that the original documents have been received by NPSC and have been scanned into NEMIS, the Special Needs/Hearings caseworker may then shred the copies of the applicant's original documents.

10210.6 General Conditions of Eligibility

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

To be eligible for ONA an applicant must fulfill all of the following conditions, in addition to any category-specific conditions.

An applicant must:

  • Have no, or insufficient, insurance coverage.
  • File an insurance claim, if applicable, and find that the settlement does not meet his or her other needs, related necessary expenses and serious needs.
  • Have the damages occur in the declared area and be directly associated with the disaster type with approved cause of damage.
  • Apply to all required government disaster programs (for example, SBA) for assistance and be determined unqualified for such assistance, or demonstrate that the assistance received does not satisfy the total necessary expense or serious need.
  • Certify to refund that part of the ONA award for which assistance from other means is received, or which is not spent on disaster-related serious needs and necessary expenses. This is verified when the applicant signs the registration form (FEMA Form 90-69B).
  • Meet the citizenship requirements set forth in 44 CFR. This is verified when the applicant signs the registration form (FEMA 90-69D).

10210.7 General Conditions for Denial

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

An applicant may be denied for all or portions of ONA if any of the following conditions are true:

  • Received assistance from other means (such as insurance or SBA loan) for the specific necessary expense or serious need, or portion thereof, for which the application is made. Expendable items, such as clothing, food and blankets, are not considered a duplication of benefits.
  • Refused assistance from other means (such as SBA or insurance).
  • Has serious needs and necessary expenses met by insurance, SBA, voluntary organizations or other means.
  • Has insurance, for the specific category of assistance, but failed to file a claim.
  • Has unverified or unsubstantiated serious needs or necessary expenses.
  • Has damage solely related to a business, including farm businesses or self-employment (for example, equipment and lot revenues).
  • Requests improvements or additions to personal property to upgrade the size, quality or capacity of personal property owned before the disaster. New items necessary to replace those lost in a disaster are not considered improvements or additions.
  • Requests reimbursement for labor performed by the applicant or members of the applicant's household.
  • Requests reimbursement for financial obligations incurred before the disaster; previously owned debts, back taxes and unpaid utility bills are examples of the items that are considered ineligible pre-disaster financial obligations.
  • Requests assistance for spoiled food supplies.
  • Requests reimbursement for expenses that can be characterized as recreational, non-essential, luxury or decorative.
  • Requests assistance that duplicates assistance provided to other household members.
  • Has received the maximum allowable assistance under the program.
  • 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 the local law enforcement agency to see if any services are available.

10210.8 ONA Specific Guidelines

Revision 21-1; Effective August 10, 2021

A necessary expense or serious need is not restricted to an incurred loss. An applicant may have a need that is not a replacement of a lost or damaged item. The examples below illustrate this concept.

  • A disaster destroys the only laundromat in town and the owner has no intention of rebuilding. A family of seven, whose house was also damaged, depended on the laundromat before its destruction. A washer and dryer may be eligible for this family even though they did not own these items before the disaster. The items could be considered under personal property assistance.
  • An applicant is injured during a disaster that causes her to be restricted to a hospital bed at home. The hospital bed may be eligible for assistance even though the applicant did not own one before the disaster. This applicant could be considered for medical assistance.
  • An applicant becomes unemployed due to disaster. He obtains a job requiring him to purchase tools and a uniform. Although the applicant did not own these items before the disaster, they could be considered for personal property assistance.

There may be daily, weekly or even monthly recurring costs. ONA may assist with these recurring costs until the serious need or necessary expense is no longer required, or until the maximum award is exhausted, or the performance period ends (the performance period is 18 months after the disaster declaration). ONA will not assist with normal recurring costs the applicant was responsible for before the disaster.

The cost of estimates and service calls is an eligible expense, when the applicant is subsequently determined eligible for the associated item or service.

ONA cannot award a grant amount for less than $50 unless FEMA or ONA has made a prior award over $50 on the same registration.

Example: The inspector records a single electric fan in an occupied bedroom. The line item cost for the fan is $25. The applicant was previously awarded $1,300 by FEMA for rental assistance. The applicant may now be considered for the $25 award.

10210.9 Medical and Dental Guidelines

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

Texas may provide financial assistance under the ONA provision of the IHP to individuals and households with medical or dental expenses caused by a disaster. Unlike most other forms of IHP assistance, an applicant seeking medical or dental assistance does not need to live in the presidentially declared disaster area to be considered for the assistance. Any person who incurs disaster-caused medical or dental expenses may apply for and, if eligible, receive medical or dental assistance.

Conditions of Eligibility

To receive an ONA award for medical or dental expenses, an applicant must submit a claim for insurance, if applicable, or for Medicaid or Medicare, and provide ONA with information regarding benefits received and or expected. The applicant must provide the medical enclosure statement if he or she does not have health insurance.

Medical or dental insurance settlements must be provided if the applicant has medical or dental insurance.

Note: Medicare (Parts A, B and D) does not cover most dental services, including dentures. More information can be found on the Medicare website at www.medicare.gov.

In addition to meeting general conditions of eligibility in Section 10210.6, General Conditions of Eligibility, applicants must meet the following conditions in order to receive medical or dental assistance:

  • The medical or dental injury or expense must be a direct result of the disaster, as verified by a written and signed statement by the applicant, medical provider or dental provider. Eligible expenses include costs associated with:
    • Injury or illness caused by the disaster.
    • Pre-existing injury, disability or medical condition aggravated by the disaster.
    • Replacement of prescribed medication.
    • Loss or damage of personal medical or dental equipment.
    • Medical or dental insurance deductibles and co-payments for eligible expenses.
    • Loss or injury of a service animal.
  • Medical or dental expenses will not be eligible for FEMA reimbursement if they are covered by insurance or any other source.
  • Expenses related to the loss or injury of a service animal must be a direct result of the disaster. Eligible expenses may include costs associated with:
    • Veterinary expenses for disaster-caused injuries.
    • Replacement and/or training costs.
    • Lost or damaged equipment that enables the service animal to fulfill its function (e.g., specialized leash, harness or vest).

ADA defines a service dog as "dogs that are individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people living with disabilities." These tasks may include things like alerting people who are deaf, guiding people who are visually impaired, calming a person with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during an anxiety attack, reminding someone to take prescription medications, or protecting a person who is experiencing a seizure. The ADA does not recognize dogs who solely provide emotional support or comfort as service animals. See https://www.servicedogcertifications.org/ada-service-dog-laws/.

Note: An ADA certified service animal is not the same as an emotional support animal. ONA does not cover any disaster-related illnesses, injuries or deaths to emotional support animals.

Required Documentation for Medical and Dental Expenses

Required documentation must indicate the expense was caused by the disaster, is medically required and includes the amount of the expense.

Disaster-caused injury or illness documentation includes both of the following:

  • Itemized bills, receipts or estimates from the licensed medical or dental provider or pharmacy; and
  • A written and signed statement from a licensed medical or dental provider, including the date of the disaster-caused injury and expenses necessary for recovery.

Medical or dental providers may include audiologists, rehabilitation specialists or state-based agencies who can verify an applicant's disability and need for a device or equipment.

Replacement of prescribed medication documentation includes all of the following:

  • A written and signed statement by the applicant or the applicant's medical or dental provider verifying the loss was caused by the disaster;
  • A written and signed statement from a medical or dental provider verifying the prescription is required and was previously prescribed to the applicant or a household member; and
  • Receipts or other verifiable documentation from the pharmacy showing the replacement cost of the prescribed medication.

Loss or damage of medical or dental equipment documentation includes all of the following:

  • A written and signed statement by the applicant or the medical or dental provider verifying the loss was caused by the disaster;
  • A written and signed statement from a medical or dental provider verifying the applicant or household member required the medical or dental equipment prior to the disaster; and
  • Itemized bills, receipts or estimates showing the repair or replacement cost of the medical or dental equipment.

Required documentation verifying the loss or injury of a service animal includes all of the following:

  • A written and signed statement by the applicant, medical provider or veterinary provider verifying the service animal's loss or injury was caused by the disaster;
  • A written and signed statement from a medical provider verifying the applicant or household member required the service animal for a disability prior to the disaster;
  • A statement from the applicant, medical provider or other representative explaining the type of task or work performed by the service animal; and
  • Itemized bills, receipts or estimates showing expenses related to the service animal's loss or injury.

Note: Any statement submitted from a medical provider must have a real or electronic signature with verifiable contact information.

Eligible Expenses

All of the following medical and dental expenses that are directly related to the disaster and within the incident period may be awarded assistance.

  • Treatment or services by a licensed physician or dentist related to an injury or condition caused or exacerbated by the disaster.
  • Referral by a licensed physician or dentist.
  • Hospitalization and ambulance services.
  • Replacement or purchase of necessary medication.
  • Replacement, repair or purchase of medical or dental equipment (i.e., wheelchair, eyeglasses or bridge work).
  • Long-term or ongoing treatment (i.e., emergency room, mental health hospitalization (facility), physical therapy, etc.).
  • Grant award for loss of currently prescribed medications due to disaster is limited to a 90-day supply. Verification of purchased prescriptions before and after the disaster is required.
  • Special equipment for vehicles may be included if required for disabled persons.
  • Medical and dental insurance deductibles and co-payments.

Limitations and Exclusions

  • Medically required generators purchased or rented to power equipment necessary for an existing medical condition may be considered under "Assistance for Miscellaneous Items" rather than "Medical and Dental Assistance." A generator will be processed under "Miscellaneous Items" if purchased or rented to power a medically required piece of equipment, such as a medically required refrigerator.
  • IHP assistance for replacing lost or damaged medical or dental equipment is limited to items of similar quality and function as the item being replaced.
  • IHP assistance for medical and dental services does not include medically unnecessary procedures (e.g., procedures designed to enhance appearance, such as teeth whitening).
  • ONA can only reimburse for a 90-day supply of prescriptions. Depending on the pharmacy, this can be a one-time expenditure or an expense that runs over the course of three consecutive months.
  • A limited number of accessible items are available for applicants with disabilities under "Personal Property Assistance." To be eligible, these items must have been owned prior to the disaster and sustained disaster-caused damage or loss.
    • If an inspector observed damaged ADA items in an applicant's home during an inspection, those will be awarded under the "Personal Property" category. If ADA items were not notated and the applicant states they need them replaced, the applicant will need to provide ONA the appropriate documentation to be considered. Once all appropriate documentation is submitted, ADA items will be processed under the "Medical" category. This does not include medically required generators.
  • IHP assistance for service animals is limited to service dogs and miniature horses that perform a qualified task for a person with a disability, as defined by the ADA of 1990 (ADA; as amended, 2008). The ADA defines service animal as "any dog [or miniature horse] that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability."
  • A service animal must be required because of a disability and perform a functional task for the applicant or a member of the household.
  • IHP assistance is not available for therapy animals or emotional support animals.

Examples for Pre-Disaster Condition, Disability or Medical Condition (Exacerbated)

  1. Applicant was in a car accident two years prior to the disaster and has had monthly chiropractic visits. While trying to evacuate during the hurricane, the applicant reinjured his back trying to remove debris from the road. The chiropractor verifies that the applicant has had an injury and the visits would need to increase to three times a month. This increase in care will be needed for the next four consecutive months.
  2. Applicant is an asthmatic and had to go to the hospital due to mold exposure from water coming into her home. Applicant provides medical documentation to support her claim.
  3. Applicant relies on a motorized wheelchair for his daily needs. The wheelchair was destroyed while the applicant was attempting to evacuate and requires replacement. Applicant provides medical documentation to support his claim.
  4. Applicant has worn a prosthetic chest plate for the last six months due to reconstructive surgery from breast cancer. Applicant waded through flood waters to get to safety and the breastplate was waterlogged. Due to the flood water, the breastplate began to grow mold and needed to be replaced. This is an eligible medical expense.

Specific Conditions for Denial


An applicant may be denied for all medical or dental grant awards if any of the following conditions are true:

  • Medical and or dental insurance meets the needs of the applicant.
  • Prescription needs met by other assistance, such as Red Cross.
  • Deferred dental maintenance or dentistry upgrades (i.e., gold fillings, teeth whitening, having teeth pulled and dentures put in due to personal neglect).
  • Medical and/or dental are not directly related to the disaster. Examples:
    • An applicant's foot was run over in the parking lot while trying to buy groceries as all the food in his/her home had spoiled because of the disaster.
    • An applicant submits an estimate from a dental provider showing that approximately seven teeth will need to be removed as well as a partial denture put in. ONA called the dental provider to verify the cause of damage to which the dental office confirmed the teeth would need to be pulled due to decay and is not required to fit the new partial. ONA will not cover the expense of having seven teeth removed as it was not caused by the disaster.
  • The medical and/or dental occurrence did not occur within the FEMA defined incident period.

10210.10 Funeral Guidelines

Revision 20-1; Effective June 1, 2020

Funeral assistance is financial aid provided to an individual or household that experiences unexpected, uninsured or underinsured expenses associated with the death of an immediate family member when the death is attributed to an event that is declared a major disaster or emergency. The State Administrative Plan maximum allowance for funerals is $9,000 per death up to the IHP maximum. This amount is subject to change.

Unlike most forms of IHP assistance, an applicant seeking funeral assistance does not need to live in a presidentially declared disaster area to be considered for assistance.

The types of disaster-related funeral expenses for which assistance may be provided per death are:

  • Cost of the casket or urn, burial plot or cremation niche, marker or headstone, clergy or officiant services, transportation and preparations of the body, interment or cremation, and up to five death certificates;
  • Additional expenses mandated by any local government or law;
  • Transportation of up to two family members to the disaster area to identify the deceased (transportation of family members to the funeral site is not eligible); and
  • Cost of reinterment.

The following expenses are eligible for reinterment:

  • Reinterment (including costs for preparing and transporting the remains);
  • Funeral services (limited to the preparation and use of facilities to prepare for reinterment); and/or
  • Cost of identifying the disinterred human remains.

Funeral Assistance Key Terms

  • Interment: The placement of cremated remains or deceased human bodies in the ground, a cremation urn or other burial facility, such as a columbarium. A columbarium is a place where urns holding a deceased's cremated remains are stored and memorialized.
  • Disinterment: The unearthing of cremated remains or deceased human bodies from the ground, a cremation urn or other burial facility, such as a columbarium.
  • Reinterment: The replacement of cremated remains or deceased human bodies in the ground, a cremation urn or other burial facility, such as a columbarium.
  • Funeral Services: Services to care for and prepare deceased human bodies and services to arrange, supervise or conduct the funeral ceremony. Services may include preparation of the deceased (e.g., embalming or cremation), use of facilities, staff for viewing, funeral ceremony or memorial service, use of equipment, staff for graveside service or committal service and use of hearse/funeral coach.

Conditions of Eligibility

In addition to meeting general consideration of eligibility (see Section 10210.6, General Conditions of Eligibility), applicants must meet the following conditions to receive funeral assistance:

  • A licensed medical official, such as the medical examiner, coroner, doctor or a justice of the peace has attributed the death either directly or indirectly to the emergency or disaster. An exacerbation of a preexisting condition may be eligible if it is verified that the exacerbation was caused by the disaster.
  • State ONA staff may also contact the American Red Cross (ARC), hospitals, police and fire departments or ambulance companies for verification, or may review newspaper accounts. For these accounts to be accepted in lieu of verification from a licensed medical professional, they must clearly indicate that the death was either directly or indirectly related to the disaster event.
  • The applicant incurred or will incur eligible funeral expenses not covered by other sources. Other sources may include burial insurance, crowdfunding accounts, financial assistance from voluntary agencies, applicable government programs/agencies or other entities.

Required Documentation

An applicant must submit:

  • An official death certificate that clearly indicates the death was attributed to the emergency or disaster, or a signed statement from a government licensed medical official, such as the medical examiner or coroner, attributing the death to the emergency or disaster, either directly or indirectly.
    • A death is directly attributed to a disaster if caused by forces of the disaster or the direct consequence of the force, such as drowning, structural collapse, flying debris or radiation exposure;
    • A death is indirectly attributed to the disaster if it occurs as the result of unsafe or unhealthy conditions present during any phase of the disaster (i.e., pre or post disaster preparations or cleanup), including disaster-caused exacerbation of a preexisting condition (i.e., deferred medical treatments, such as dialysis or an interruption or inability to receive a medically necessary and life-sustaining medication such as insulin);
    • State ONA staff may coordinate with the local government or medical officials to obtain verification that the disaster caused the death;
    • State ONA staff will not share the applicant's personally identifiable information (PII) when obtaining documentation on the deceased; and
    • When ONA staff receives a signed statement from a licensed medical official, such as the medical examiner or coroner, which does not clearly state the disinterment, death or underlying cause of death was attributed either directly or indirectly to the emergency or disaster, ONA staff will work with the medical official to obtain clearer certification (statements such as "may have contributed" or "could have" will not be considered acceptable verification).
  • Receipts or verifiable estimates indicating the applicant incurred or will incur eligible interment, reinterment or funeral expenses.
  • Documentation of burial insurance and/or other forms of funeral assistance from voluntary agencies, government agencies (i.e., Social Security death benefits or Veterans Affairs assistance) or other entities. The benefit amount received from any of these sources will be deducted from any potential payment to avoid a duplication of benefits. Life insurance is considered a family resource and will not be considered a duplication of benefits.
  • For reinterment only, documentation proving that the disinterment occurred in a privately owned, licensed cemetery or burial facility (such as an association or community cemetery or burial facility) and the cemetery or burial facility is not responsible for reinterring displaced remains.
    • In the event of disinterment, ONA will consider requests that include a funeral home, burial facility or cemetery representative statement indicating that the cause of the disinterment was a direct result of the disaster. ONA may coordinate with any state official or cemetery, burial facility or funeral home representative to obtain this verification.

Limitations and Exclusions

  • ONA may provide assistance to the applicant only up to the funeral assistance amount established by the state of Texas. This amount is currently set at $9,000 per eligible death up to the seasonally adjusted IHP maximum grant amount.
  • ONA does not assist with any funeral or funeral-related expense that has been prepaid. A prepaid service or expense is defined as anything that was paid for at any time prior to the date of the death.
  • ONA will not provide assistance for any of the following:
    • Obituaries;
    • Flowers;
    • Printed materials such as banners, programs or register books;
    • Catering services, food or gratuities; and
    • Transporting the applicant or others to the site(s) of funeral services, interment or reinterment.

Examples

  • A tornado hits a rural county in Texas and there was a death directly attributed to flying debris. The surviving spouse applied to FEMA for assistance and the case is referred to ONA. The spouse submits a death certificate that clearly identifies the death to be disaster related, a funeral purchase agreement, verification of a life insurance policy for $25,000 and verification that she received Social Security death benefits in the amount of $255. The funeral purchase agreement totals $9,000 and includes $500 for flowers and $600 for programs and a register book. The applicant is eligible for $7,645.
  • There was a power outage attributed to a disaster event in southern Texas and a death occurs because the deceased could not get electricity to power his oxygen machine. A surviving daughter who lives in New York applies for assistance and is referred to ONA. She states she is responsible for the full expense and submits a statement from a doctor that attributes the death to the disaster, a funeral purchase agreement that contains no items considered ineligible per program guidelines, and a verification that she received $300 from a crowdfunding account. The total price for the funeral is $5,000. The applicant is eligible for $4,700.

10210.11 Personal Property Guidelines

Revision 21-1; Effective August 10, 2021

Texas may provide financial assistance under the ONA provision of the IHP to repair or replace personal property damaged or destroyed due to a disaster. The ONA Administrative Option Section form includes a list of eligible items, also known as the Standard Personal Property Line Items list that may be considered for assistance. The state of Texas can request that items be added to, or removed from, the list within 72 hours of an IA declaration.

FEMA and the state of Texas establish a maximum quantity that may be awarded for each personal property item. FEMA calculates the award amount for each item according to the consumer price index data for items of average quality, size and capacity in the area where the damage occurred. The assistance is intended to meet the basic needs of the household, not to restore personal property items to a pre-disaster condition. The program is not intended to indemnify all disaster losses.

When applicants reside in the same damaged pre-disaster residence and are not classified by FEMA as roommates or boarders, the owner or head of household will be considered responsible for the personal property in the common living areas up to the quantity limit.

However, a household member could be eligible if the owner, head of household or landlord has not met the item quantity limit. The household members may be awarded the minimum amount of assistance to meet the household needs, not to exceed the quantity limit.

FEMA will record personal property as being unaffected or needing repair or replacement during inspection of the applicant's damaged primary residence. FEMA assistance to repair and replace personal property falls within the following categories:

  • Appliances: Including standard household appliances, such as a refrigerator, washing machine, etc.
  • Clothing: Essential clothing needed due to overall loss, damage or contamination.
  • Room Furnishings: Standard furnishings found in a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room.
  • Essential Tools: Tools and equipment required by an employer as a condition of employment and items required as a condition of an applicant's or household member's education.

Conditions for Eligibility


In addition to meeting general conditions of eligibility (see Section 10210.6, General Conditions of Eligibility), applicants must meet the following conditions in order to receive personal property assistance:

  • Damage to essential personal property verified through a FEMA inspection or upon the submission of a verifiable receipt, bill or invoice that indicates the disaster caused a need to repair or replace the item.
  • The occupants of the household have an unmet disaster-related need for the damaged item. ONA may not provide assistance if the applicant can meet that need with another similar item in their possession or available to the household (refer to the Standard Personal Property Line Item List for the allowable quantity and eligible items).
  • The item was owned and being used by occupants of the household.
    • ONA does not provide assistance for furnishings and/or appliances provided by a landlord.
    • Items used by guests and relatives who were not members of the pre-disaster household are not eligible for assistance.

General Inspection Verification Guidelines

Assistance will generally be awarded based upon the recorded line item by the inspector during on-site verification. Items will not be recorded unless they are determined to need professional repair (cleaning) or replacement. It is expected that items minimally affected will be cleaned by the applicant. These cleaning costs are not eligible.

The level of damage will be recorded by the inspector as X (damaged but repairable or cleanable); Y (some items repairable, others should be replaced); Z (replace all); or NA (not affected).

  • X items will be paid at 25 percent of the line item cost. Y items will be paid at 50 percent of the line item cost. Z items will be paid at 100 percent of the line item cost.
  • Personal property assistance for rooms will be awarded based on the percentage of room composition, not with regards to individual items.
  • Assistance for appliances will be awarded at either repair (50 percent of replace cost) or replace (100 percent of replace cost). Note: For processing assistance purposes, FEMA identifies certain items as "appliances" that may not be considered a typical appliance to the general public. Items that fall into this category include children's strollers and toys, every day dining tables, twin beds and property for applicants with access or functional needs, such as accessible toilet seats, beds, etc.
  • For clothing, the state will make a single award amount (Z).
  • In the event an inspector indicates two damaged line items and there is only a need for one item, the lesser of the two will be paid.
  • Items recorded as non-affected or landlord owned are ineligible for assistance. Non-affected means any of the following:
    • The inspector has viewed the items and determined that disaster-caused damages do not require the need to repair or replace;
    • The inspector did not see the items and surrounding evidence (e.g., waterlines, signs of ceiling leaks, etc.) does not substantiate the need to repair or replace the items; or
    • The inspector viewed the items and determined there was no damage.

Inspection History Verification Types

During any FEMA inspection, the inspector will use one of the following loss verification types: Viewed During Inspection or Verbal Damage Supports Claim.

  • Viewed During Inspection: Personal property items were viewed and the appropriate degree of damage for each has been recorded. The Viewed During Inspection option may also include items with no degree of damage and are identified as "not affected" in the degree field.
  • Verbal Damage Supports Claim: The inspector did not see the damaged items but surrounding evidence/damage supports the applicant's claim that the disaster caused the loss.

Applicants must also meet specific eligibility requirements for each category of item for which they are requesting personal property assistance. These include:

  • Appliances: Assistance is based on the number and type of household appliances in need of repair or replacement. Applicants may receive assistance for two appliances that serve a similar purpose or function (e.g., a range and a microwave).
  • Clothing: Assistance is based on the number of household members requiring clothing as determined during FEMA inspection. FEMA defines an essential need for clothing if existing clothing has been destroyed, is physically gone (e.g., blown away) or contaminated by chemicals or sewer backup as a result of disaster. FEMA expects applicants to clean clothing soaked by wind-driven rain, seepage or flood waters. Clothing stored at the time of the disaster is not eligible for assistance (this includes seasonal clothing) and clothing will not be awarded for individual items.
  • Room Furnishings: Assistance is based on the level of damage to furnishings within specific rooms of the residence as recorded during FEMA inspection. The rooms must be one of the four types required to meet the needs of a typical household: kitchen, living room, bathroom or bedroom.
  • Essential Tools: Assistance is based on a need to replace essential tools, supplies and equipment owned pre-disaster that are required by an employer as a condition for employment, and items required as a condition of an applicant's or household member's education. This includes tools and equipment required for a specific trade or profession. Eligible items that fall under essential tools are listed below:
    • Schoolbooks/Supplies: Equipment and supplies required to be provided by the applicant for educational courses or schooling, including home schooling, college and trade school courses.
    • Uniforms: Required for school or work when the applicant is responsible for replacement of the uniforms.
    • Computers: Required by a school or an employer (not self-employment) when the applicant is responsible for the replacement of the computer.
    • Occupational Tools: Essential tools and equipment required by an employer (not self-employment) as a condition of employment.

Applicants may be asked to provide the following documentation for essential tools not verified during a FEMA inspection:

  • A statement from the employer on company letterhead documenting the applicant is required to provide their own tools or computer as a condition of employment.
  • A statement on school letterhead documenting a computer is required as a condition of education and the school does not provide access to computers to use outside of class, such as a school computer lab.
  • An itemized list of the tools required by the employer, also on company letterhead.
  • An itemized list of each tool required and a verifiable statement, estimate or bill from the place of the potential purchase stating that the damage was caused by the disaster.

Accessible Items

FEMA also provides assistance for damaged personal property items required for applicants with disabilities. The list includes accessible beds, raised toilet seats, accessible refrigerators, accessible washers, and computers or adaptive technology when utilized as the sole means of communication for a household member with a disability. Motorized and non-motorized wheelchairs, shower chairs, visual/vibrating fire signals and walkers are also eligible items.

  • If an applicant has additional medically required assistive devices not included in the list above, they may request assistance to replace those items under the Medical and Dental Assistance category of ONA (see Section 10210.9, Medical and Dental Guidelines).
  • If the cost to repair or replace an ADA personal property item exceeds the award amount, applicants may request assistance for the additional amount by providing the following: 
    • A written or signed statement from a medical provider verifying the applicant or household member required the item prior to the disaster; and
    • An itemized bill, receipt or estimate showing the repair or replacement cost of the item.

Limitations and Exclusions

  • An applicant must exhaust any potential insurance settlement or be denied by their insurance company before being considered for ONA.
  • An applicant who fails to file with their insurance company will be ineligible for ONA.
  • Pictures are not considered acceptable verification of personal property loss and ONA will not make determinations based on pictures.
  • An applicant is ineligible for any items when the cause of damage to that item is a flood and the applicant is found to be noncompliant with a prior flood insurance requirement.
  • If the applicant's residence is located in a Coastal Barrier Resource System (CBRS) area, that applicant will be ineligible for assistance.
  • If the applicant's residence is located in a special flood hazard area (SFHA) in a nonparticipating or sanctioned community and the applicant has damages attributed to flood, the applicant will be ineligible.
  • Applicants incarcerated at the time of the disaster who incur disaster-caused damage to their personal property within their unit at the correctional facility or detention center are ineligible for IHP assistance. Prisoners are legally entrusted to the corrections institute which is responsible for safeguarding their persons and providing for their needs.
  • An applicant may be eligible for personal property assistance when their insurance denies payment because the damages are below the deductible.
    • Example: An applicant has a FEMA Verified Loss (FVL) of $2,345 for damage caused by tornado wind. The applicant files with their insurance but is denied because while they are insured for this peril, their damages do not exceed their deductible of $7,500. Upon verification of the insurance denial, ONA would pay the full FVL of $2,345.
  • Financial assistance for flood-damaged personal property in basements is limited to both of the following:
    • Washers and dryers; and
    • Essential personal property in rooms required for the occupation of the dwelling (for example, occupied bedrooms, a bathroom required for the occupied bedroom, a sole kitchen or living room).

10210.11.1 Stored Personal Property

Revision 20-1; Effective June 1, 2020

Damage to personal property items in commercial storage or in transit to a new primary residence at the time of the disaster may be eligible if the items are serious needs or necessary expenses, as determined by the inspector or by ONA staff upon receipt of serious need verification from the applicant. Damaged personal property items that were in storage at the time of the disaster for more than 60 days are generally not considered a serious need, as they were not being used at the time of the disaster and their loss does not create a hardship. However, if the applicant can provide evidence that they were going to move to a new location and were planning on moving within a reasonable period of time (accepted a job, signed a lease or bought a home at a new location, etc.), then a grant for the essential stored items may be allowed.

Items damaged in transit are generally considered nonessential. This would include items damaged in a vehicle during an evacuation, unless the need is determined to be essential through submission of verifiable bill, estimate, receipt or invoice indicating disaster-related damage, or with verification through a FEMA inspection.

Required Verification

  • A signed, written explanation describing the need for the repair or replacement of essential personal property;
  • A list of all damaged items, along with a list of any similar items the applicant owns that were not affected by the disaster;
  • Pre- and post-disaster lease agreements or home purchase paperwork verifying the intent to move; and
  • Applicable commercial storage unit lease agreement or rental truck agreement including all insurance information and settlements.

Stored Personal Property Limitations and Exclusions

  • Assistance for items stored in a noncommercial storage facility, such as a garage or spare room, will not be eligible for assistance.
  • Assistance for stored items may not duplicate assistance for any undamaged items in the applicant's possession (e.g., an applicant has a verified intent to move and verified damage to his stored personal property. While the applicant had one television damaged in storage, he/she also has one television that was not in storage and was not affected. The applicant would be ineligible for the damaged unit as the item quantity limit for the appliance has been met.)

Examples

  • A family is moving across the country and while passing through Texas, their moving truck is flooded by a disaster event. The family registers with FEMA and a FEMA inspector generally confirms their losses. The family provides their pre- and post-disaster housing plan, verification of no insurance and a statement that they own no similar items not damaged by the disaster. ONA will award the family for their losses. Occupancy does not need to be verified.
  • During a disaster event, a storage facility in Houston is flooded. An applicant registers with FEMA for their items lost at the storage unit. The applicant has no damage to their home. They provide a lease showing the storage unit was rented five months prior to the disaster date. The applicant is ineligible for assistance as the items had been in storage more than 60 days, and they are no longer considered essential.
  • During a disaster event, a storage facility in Beaumont is flooded. An applicant registers with FEMA for the items lost in storage. The storage unit is inspected and a FEMA inspector verifies loss. The applicant provides their pre-disaster lease and post-disaster lease showing they were in a transitional housing stage and verifying the intent to move. The applicant provides verification that there was no insurance on the storage unit and a statement that he/she owns clothing that was not affected by storm and not in the storage unit. The applicant is eligible for all stored items other than clothing as general limitations apply.
  • An applicant registers with FEMA and requests assistance for items they claim were damaged while being transported on a trailer to a safe location at the onset of the disaster event. The applicant is unable to provide verification of this loss and a FEMA inspector is equally unable to confirm the loss. The applicant is ineligible for assistance as no verification of loss or essential need can be established.

10210.12 Transportation Guidelines

Revision 21-1; Effective August 10, 2021

Texas may provide financial assistance under the ONA provision of the IHP to individuals and households with disaster-caused vehicle repair or replacement expenses. Unlike most other forms of IHP assistance, an applicant seeking transportation assistance does not need to live in the presidentially-declared disaster area to be considered for the assistance.

The state uses the ONA Administrative Option Selection form to establish the maximum amount of transportation assistance (i.e., transportation repair and transportation replacement) that may be awarded. The amount of transportation repair and replacement assistance awarded is based on the degree of damage and the repair and replacement maximum.

Eligible Expenses

Following are types of disaster-related transportation expenses, not to exceed $9,000 per vehicle (value to be adjusted in January each year based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all consumer goods).

Assistance may be provided for repairs to an automobile, van, truck, boat, motorcycle, bike, or other vehicle that are not cosmetic. Cosmetic items are not related to the safe operation of the vehicle (for example, body work, molding, trim, bumpers, and paint). Eligible items that are related to health and safety include carpet, seats, and headliners. The grant award for transportation repairs is $550 up to $9,000, the maximum replacement amount for a vehicle.

Note: If automatic determination (Auto-D) is switched on, and the FEMA inspector determines that the vehicle is repairable, the applicant will automatically be awarded $550 for minimal repair and towing.

Eligible items for disaster-related transportation expenses include:

  • Cost of repair estimates.
  • Replacement of the destroyed vehicle.

Specific Conditions for Eligibility

  • The damaged vehicle must have been in compliance with all state laws regarding vehicle registration prior to the start and during the FEMA specified incident period (per the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles guidelines, vehicles must be registered in the new owner's name within 30 days of purchase), inspection, licensing, and insurance requirements before the disaster.
    • Windshield stickers will not be allowed as proof of current registration.
  • The applicant does not own an operational second vehicle.
    • An operational vehicle is defined as a vehicle that may need cosmetic repairs or incurred minimal damage but complies with state registration and insurance requirements at the time of the disaster and can be legally driven.
  • The applicant must be determined ineligible for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan through the income test, be denied an SBA loan, or receive an SBA loan that is insufficient to cover his or her other needs related to necessary expenses and serious needs.
  • The damaged vehicle is owned or leased (i.e., not a rental vehicle) by the applicant, co-applicant or household member.

Considerations for Second Vehicles

Justification that more than one vehicle is necessary to meet the needs of the household and the applicant does not have sufficient unaffected/operational vehicles to meet this need. This applies for one or two disaster-affected vehicles. The applicant certifies in writing the damaged vehicle is essential for the household's daily usage, presents circumstances and explains the serious need for a second vehicle. Supporting documents will be reviewed, when available, but are not required if the written justification/circumstance is sufficient for processing.

Considerations for Vehicles Registered to a Non-household Member

If the vehicle meets the requirement of liability insurance and is registered (or insured) to a non-household member, verify if there is information within the file indicating the documented owner "gave" the vehicle to the applicant (e.g., due to credit issues, etc.) and the applicant is responsible for all maintenance, upkeep, fees, etc.

Examples Related to Vehicle Repair and Replacement: The following examples demonstrate that the lump sum payment method does not consider the value of the vehicle or any outstanding loans on the vehicle. The applicant would receive $550 for repairs based solely on the FEMA inspector's determination that the vehicle is need of repair.

  • An applicant has no comprehensive insurance, but complies with all other state requirements, including liability requirements, and was initially provided $550 for repairs. Applicant submitted an estimate from an automotive repair shop that stated the vehicle had disaster related damages. The mechanic mentioned the vehicle was not repairable. A supplemental award for $8,450 is made to the applicant ($9,000 – $550 = $8,450).
  • An applicant has no comprehensive insurance, but complies with all other state requirements, including liability requirements, and was initially provided $550 for repairs. Applicant submitted an estimate from a certified mechanic that totaled $3,250. The applicant will receive an additional supplement award of $2,700 ($3,250 – $550 = $2,700).
  • An applicant was initially denied assistance due to insurance; therefore, he or she did not receive the initial repair amount of $550. The applicant has a $10,000 lien on a vehicle deemed "destroyed" by the insurance company and meets the state requirements for eligibility. The insurance settlement of $7,500 was a forced payoff to the lien holder. The applicant has a remaining lien of $2,500 and no transportation. The applicant will receive $9,000.
  • An applicant has full coverage insurance and a $500 deductible. The applicant files a claim with his insurance but is denied because the damage is less than his deductible. The applicant will be eligible for assistance if all other conditions of eligibility are met.

Considerations Related to Transportation

A family may demonstrate the need for repairs to, or replacement of, more than one vehicle. The family will need to demonstrate that the additional vehicle is integral in the daily maintenance of the household (work, school, regularly scheduled long-term medical appointments, etc.)

Examples

  • A husband works and the wife takes their children to school each day. The school district does not provide reasonable, convenient transportation to and from their primary residence. The husband's place of employment is not reasonably served by public transportation. The family has two vehicles without comprehensive insurance that the inspector indicates were destroyed by the disaster. The family has no other vehicles. One of the vehicles is auto-determined as eligible. The family is eligible for an award for more than one vehicle.
  • A wife works and drives each day. The husband stays at home and takes care of the children. The family has two vehicles without comprehensive insurance that the inspector indicates were destroyed by the disaster. The family has no other vehicles. One of the vehicles is auto-determined as eligible. The family submits a statement that the husband uses the second vehicle to run errands such as getting groceries. The applicant would receive assistance for the additional vehicle.
  • An applicant has a vehicle damaged in the disaster. While the vehicle is being inspected/repaired, the automotive shop has provided the applicant with a list of needed parts. The applicant provided some or all of the parts to be installed to the repair shop. The applicant is eligible for assistance for the repair parts that were listed and verified as required by the repair shop for the vehicle.
  • A flood destroys the only bridge in a community. An applicant who drives to work each day and whose place of employment is on the opposite side of the river is forced to pay for ferry service across the river. The applicant is eligible for the cost of the ferry.
  • Funds received from salvage of a vehicle or their vehicle insurance company are considered duplicative and are deducted from the assistance award for the vehicle.

Verification

  • Vehicle repair or replacement assistance will usually be based using on-site inspection verification.
  • Verification of vehicle registration, liability insurance and compliance with state law will usually be accomplished during the on-site inspection.
  • Verification of vehicle repair, a verifiable bill, receipt or estimate from a mechanic that has the following:
    • Confirms the damage is disaster-caused;
    • Identifies repair or replacement costs (e.g., shop and/or customer provided parts, service and labor); and
    • Includes the mechanic's verifiable contact information.
  • For multiple vehicle awards, the applicant must provide a statement on why more than one vehicle is a serious need.
  • For any vehicle replacement award, an applicant will need to apply for and submit a salvage title for the damaged vehicle in addition to:
    • An estimate from a licensed mechanic indicating disaster damages and that the vehicle is a total loss; or
    • Verification from a FEMA inspector that the vehicle is "destroyed"; or
    • An insurance settlement indicating the vehicle is a total loss due to the disaster.

Specific Reasons for Denial

  • The applicant did not comply with vehicle registration, inspection, licensing, or liability insurance requirements before the disaster or failed to provide the vehicle registration at the time of the disaster.
  • The damage to the vehicle was cosmetic only. Cosmetic damage is defined as damage that does not affect the drivability or safety of the vehicle in any way (e.g., minor dents, scratches and other similar low levels of damage).
  • The applicant or other household member is listed as an excluded driver on the insurance policy.
  • The mechanic estimate provided does not indicate disaster-related damages to the vehicle and/or the estimate could not be verified.
  • The applicant is referred to SBA and failed to apply, withdrew his/her application or refused part or the entire loan.
  • The applicant has a usable vehicle that meets his or her needs for transportation.
  • The applicant has comprehensive insurance that meets his essential needs.
  • The applicant lives in a Coastal Barrier Resource System area.
  • The applicant is requesting assistance with an insurance deductible.

10210.13 Moving and Storage Guidelines

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

Texas may provide assistance under the ONA provision of the IHP for disaster-related moving and storage of essential personal property following a disaster event. Generally, this includes storage of personal property while repairs are being made to the primary residence and returning the property to the applicant's primary residence.

ONA may provide assistance with eligible moving and storage expenses through the period of assistance or up to the IHP financial assistance maximum award, whichever comes first.

Conditions for Eligibility

In addition to meeting general conditions of eligibility (see Section 10210.6, General Conditions of Eligibility), applicants must meet the following conditions in order to receive moving and storage Assistance:

  • The property being moved and stored is considered essential. Essential personal property is defined as the items established in the Standard Personal Property Line Items list.
  • The applicant is moving and/or storing essential household goods to prevent additional damage and returning them to the previous or new primary residence.
  • The applicant's primary residence was rendered uninhabitable due to the disaster. This is verified in one of the following ways:
    • The applicant received assistance for personal property or home repair.
    • A FEMA inspector verified that habitability repairs were required (HRR).
    • The applicant received a storm-related eviction notice.

Eligible Expenses

Moving and storage assistance may be provided for, but is not limited to, all the following expenses:

  • Costs for commercial moving labor.
  • Moving truck rental fee.
  • Fuel for the rental vehicle.
  • Costs for supplies such as tape and boxes.
  • Commercial storage unit fees.
  • Associated sales tax.

Note: Homeowner and renter insurance policies do not generally cover moving and storage expenses and a settlement is not required prior to an eligible payment. If a structure or content insurance settlement is available on file, agents will review the document(s) received to verify if any special allowances include coverage for moving and storage expenses.

Ineligible Expenses

All of the following expenses are ineligible:

  • Moving and storage of recreational items (e.g., fishing gear, canoes, jet skis and nonessential vehicles).
  • Costs incurred for the moving and storage of items as a preventative measure prior to the disaster.
  • Expenses for essential personal property that is moved out of a damaged pre-disaster residence and will not be returned to the former or new primary residence.
  • Optional insurance and security deposits listed on an applicant's receipts, bills or estimates, and merchandise such as locks.

Note: Many flood insurance policies provide up to $1,000 in moving expenses. As FEMA is unable to duplicate assistance from other sources, applicants who have flood insurance will have to submit documentation to show they have exhausted funds allocated under their policy for moving expenses prior to being considered for FEMA's moving and storage assistance.

Required Documentation

Applicants must submit:

  • Verifiable receipts, bills or estimates with the associated dates for the commercial moving expenses.
  • Verifiable receipts or bills with the associated commercial storage expenses, as well as a storage unit lease agreement showing a post-disaster move-in date.
  • Documentation regarding the applicant's current housing arrangement, such as a landlord statement, current lease agreement or hotel/temporary housing verification.
  • Statements with the following:
    • The reason(s) moving and storage expenses were required;
    • A description of the essential household goods being stored; and
    • Information indicating the essential household goods are being stored while repairs to the primary residence are being made, or until a new primary residence is found.

Limitations and Exclusions

  • When the cause of damage is flooding and the applicant failed to maintain a flood insurance requirement that was a condition of a previous disaster assistance award, the applicant will be ineligible for the first $1,000 of incurred moving expenses. Storage expenses may still be eligible.
  • For an applicant who was a renter at the time of the disaster, a new primary residence is defined as one for which the applicant has signed a lease for any period of time other than month-to-month. This exclusion will not apply to an applicant who owned their pre-disaster damaged dwelling and has obtained a new unit while repairs to the pre-disaster residence are being made.
  • For any applicant with flood insurance, verification of any "loss of use" coverage must be obtained to avoid duplication of program benefits.
  • Storage units rented prior to the disaster are not eligible.

Examples

  • An applicant's particular apartment unit received no disaster-related damages but other units in the same complex did. The property management company evicts all residents so repairs may be made to the complex. The applicant may be eligible for moving and/or storage assistance until a new primary residence is obtained.
  • An applicant submitted a $100 receipt for a storage unit and a lease agreement showing a move-in date post disaster. The applicant had no personal property damage, received no home repair assistance and their FEMA inspector indicated that no habitability repairs were required. The applicant has not submitted a disaster-related eviction notice. The applicant is denied assistance.
  • An applicant's apartment was damaged by a disaster and he/she is forced to relocate. The applicant obtains a commercial storage unit to keep undamaged property safe while transitioning to permanent housing. The applicant submits receipts and is paid for the first two months of storage. At the end of the second month, the applicant signs a one-year lease at a new apartment. The applicant is now ineligible for assistance with further storage expenses as they are considered permanently housed.

10210.14 Child Care Guidelines

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

Eligible Expenses

Texas may provide assistance for disaster-related child care expenses under a provision of the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act of 2013. These expenses include the fee for service of providing child care, registration fees, and health screenings. The award is a one-time payment for child care assistance for the household's increased financial burden. The maximum amount of assistance is $2,000 and up to eight weeks of child care, or the maximum allowed amount for child care, whichever is less. Child care is considered a non-SBA dependent category.

Specific Conditions of Eligibility

  • The child for which child care is being requested must be a taxable dependent of the parent or guardian requesting the child care assistance.
  • Applicant has an increased financial burden either by change in gross income or increase in child care cost as a result of the disaster.
  • Applicant does not have another resource available for child care, such as compensation from insurance or another source that meets the applicant's child care needs.
  • The child is age 13 and under or a child up to age 21 with a disability, as defined by federal law, who requires assistance with activities of daily living.
  • The child care provider is licensed, regulated or registered under state law.

In addition to meeting general conditions of eligibility, applicants must have a disaster-caused increase in financial burden for child care, regardless of whether child care expenses were required prior to the disaster, because:

  • The applicant's gross household income has decreased as a direct result of the disaster; or
  • The applicant's child care expenses have increased as a result of the disaster.

Applicants must certify they cannot utilize child care services provided by any other source (e.g., other federal assistance for child care, private employer child care services, etc.) in order to qualify for child care assistance.

For applicants with child care expenses prior to the disaster, FEMA compares the percentage of the household's gross income spent for child care expenses before the disaster to the percentage spent following the disaster to determine if the post-disaster child care costs create a financial burden.

Example: If the household's pre-disaster income was $3,500 per week and pre-disaster child care costs were $750 per week, child care costs were 21.4% of the household's income pre-disaster. If the post-disaster income is $3,500 per week and post-disaster child care costs are $1,000 per week, child care costs are now 28.6% of the household's income post-disaster.

If the percentage of household gross income spent on child care post-disaster is higher than the percentage of household gross income spent on child care pre-disaster, the household has an increased financial burden for child care and may be eligible for assistance. In the example above, the percentage of the household's gross income spent on child care is 7.2% higher than the percentage of the household's gross income spent on child care pre-disaster. Because the household has an increased burden for child care, they may be eligible for the increased percentage.

The applicant's post-disaster child care provider must be licensed, regulated or registered under applicable government law to qualify for assistance.

The following items are eligible expenses for child care assistance:

  • Standard child care service fees, including personal assistance services that support activities of daily living for children with disabilities.
  • Registration and health inventory fees may be eligible expenses only for applicants who require a new child care service provider.

Required Documentation

For FEMA to determine a disaster-caused need for child care assistance, an applicant who had child care expenses pre-disaster must submit:

  • Pre- and post-disaster gross household income documentation.
  • Pre-disaster receipts, contract or signed letter from the child care provider for child care expenses, if receipts or the contract cannot be located.
  • Post-disaster receipts or estimates for child care fees, registration and/or health inventory fees.
  • A post-disaster child care contract or agreement.
  • A post-disaster child care provider's license, if the information cannot be located within a licensed provider database.
  • Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), 504 plan or medical professional's statements, if applicable, to verify disability for children up to age 21 who need assistance with activities of daily living.
  • A signed, written statement from the applicant.

An applicant who did not have child care expenses pre-disaster, and has incurred or will incur child care expenses as a result of the disaster, must submit:

  • Post-disaster receipts or estimates for child care fees, registration and/or health inventory fees.
  • A post-disaster child care contract or agreement.
  • A post-disaster child care provider's license, if the information cannot be located within a licensed provider database.
  • IEP, 504 plan or medical professional's statements, if applicable, to verify disability for children up to age 21 who need assistance with activities of daily living.
  • A signed, written statement from the applicant.

Verification

  • Applicant must have a child listed as a dependent and occupant of the applicant's dwelling at the time of the disaster.
  • Evaluation of applicants' pre-and post-disaster gross income as well as pre-disaster child care expenses.
  • Applicants requesting child care for children age 14 to 21 will need to provide proof that the children need assistance caring for themselves (that is, proof of functional need).

Specific Reasons for Denial

  • The applicant did not demonstrate through submitted documentation an increased financial burden for child care as a result of the disaster.
  • The applicant applied to be reimbursed for ineligible fees, such as:
    • fees for any extracurricular activities, additional services (for example, school photographs) or off‐site trips (for example, field trips) that are not a standard, reoccurring fee in the contract or agreement between the child care provider and responsible party;
    • optional fees that do not interfere with the day‐to‐day child care services that are provided to the eligible child (for example, prepared lunches, snacks, facility provided linens, etc.);
    • fees for transportation;
    • educational services (for example, after-school tutoring);
    • medical care or services; or
    • recreational camps or clubs (for example, after-school clubs, overnight camps, etc.).
  • The applicant did not apply within the period of eligibility.
  • The child care provider is not an "eligible child care provider." To be an eligible child care provider, the provider must be licensed, regulated or registered under applicable state or local law.
  • Applicant has another resource available for child care, such as compensation from insurance or another source that meets the applicant's child care needs.

Limitations and Exclusions

  • FEMA limits child care assistance to up to eight cumulative weeks per child or per household, or the maximum amount of assistance established by the state of Texas.
  • FEMA will only provide child care assistance to one applicant on behalf of the child(ren).
  • If a child is a member of multiple households, FEMA will only award assistance to the primary custodial parent/guardian responsible for child care costs after the disaster.
  • FEMA will not provide assistance for any of the following:
    • Fees for extracurricular activities and additional services (e.g., school photographs, field trips);
    • Fees not directly related to the day-to-day child care services provided to the eligible child (e.g., prepared lunches, snacks, facility-provided linens, etc.);
    • Fuel expenses related to transporting the child to and from the child care provider (e.g., school bus service);
    • Education services (e.g., after-school tutoring);
    • Medical care or services; and
    • Recreational camps or clubs (e.g., after-school clubs, overnight camps).

10210.15 Miscellaneous Expenses Guidelines

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

Texas may provide financial assistance under the ONA provision of the IHP to individuals and households with certain disaster-caused miscellaneous expenses. Eligible items must be purchased or rented after the incident to assist with the applicant's disaster recovery, such as gaining access to the property or assisting with cleaning efforts. Items damaged by the disaster that were owned prior to the disaster will be considered under "Personal Property Assistance." The state of Texas, in consultation with FEMA, has identified standard miscellaneous line items. However, the state of Texas may elect not to include all of these items as eligible for reimbursement:

  • Carbon Monoxide Detector;
  • Chainsaw;
  • Dehumidifier;
  • Generator (Note: A generator will be processed under personal property if owned prior to the disaster.);
  • Humidifier;
  • Smoke Detector; and
  • Weather Radio.

Note: The assistance is awarded on the line item costs established by FEMA's pricing contractor. When the expense is not established through the contracting agent, the state will pay the actual cost. The state reserves the right to establish a maximum allowable amount for that item.

The generator is purchased or rented because of an event that results in an emergency or major disaster declaration by the president. For the purposes of this policy, the qualifying incident period for the event starts at the date the governor declared a state of emergency and ends at the closure of the incident date published by FEMA in the Federal Register, or the date power is restored to the applicant's dwelling, whichever occurs first.

Consideration for Miscellaneous Expenses

The item may be purchased, rented or leased.

In addition to meeting general conditions of eligibility (see Section 10210.6, General Conditions of Eligibility), applicants must meet the following conditions in order to receive assistance for miscellaneous items:

  • The expense must be a direct result of the disaster.
  • The item must have been purchased or rented within 30 days from the incident start date or up to the last day of the incident period, whichever is greater.
  • Generator exception: The reimbursement period starts the day the governor declares a state of emergency and ends at the incident period closure date identified by FEMA in the Federal Register, or if warranted due to extraordinary circumstances, the date commercial power is restored to the applicant's primary residence as verified by the FEMA Joint Field Office (JFO) or commercial power provider.
  • Applicants must provide an itemized receipt or equipment rental agreement for eligible expenses.
  • The expense must not be covered by insurance or provided by any other source.
  • Applicants provide proof that the appliance is required for medical purposes (i.e., letter from physician stating the applicant/occupant has a medical need for the appliance).

Reimbursement of rental cost will not exceed established retail purchase pricing guidelines for a 5.5 kw generator.

Verification

  • Miscellaneous expense assistance will usually be verified during the on-site inspection;
  • In the event the item was not recorded during the inspection, the bill or receipt for the purchase, rental or lease of the item must be submitted to the state, along with a statement from the applicant that explains why the miscellaneous expense is disaster-related; and
  • A letter from a physician stating that a generator is medically required. The letter must be signed by the physician and have verifiable contact information.

Limitations and Exclusions

  • If the applicant owned the eligible miscellaneous item prior to the disaster and the item was damaged by the disaster, the item will be considered under "Personal Property Assistance."
  • Assistance for miscellaneous items is limited to the quantity established for the item by the state of Texas on the ONA Administrative Option Selection form.
  • If the pre-disaster primary residence is located within a CBRS Unit, the applicant may not be considered for financial assistance for miscellaneous items except for expenses to purchase or rent items required to power life-sustaining medical equipment (e.g., generators).

Generator expenses only:

  • The generator must be purchased or rented to power a medically required piece of equipment, including medically required refrigerators.
  • The generator must be purchased or rented due to a disruption in electrical utility service as a result of the disaster.
  • The applicant must submit a statement from a medical services provider, indicating the equipment is medically necessary.
  • The allowable grant amount for generators is limited to the prevailing retail or rental rate for a 5.5 kw-sized generator, as identified by FEMA.
  • The eligible reimbursement period for generator rental costs starts on the date the governor declares a state of emergency and ends at the incident period closure date identified by FEMA in the Federal Register or, if warranted due to extraordinary circumstances, the date commercial power is restored to the applicant's primary residence as verified by the FEMA JFO or commercial power provider.
  • The FEMA Individual Assistance Division director may waive one or more conditions of eligibility during extraordinary circumstances (e.g., sustained power outage during a period of subfreezing temperatures) when determined to be in the public's interest.

Chainsaw expenses only:

  • The chainsaw must be purchased or rented to gain access to and/or remove hazards from the home.
  • Applicants who receive financial housing assistance or have insurance coverage for debris or tree removal costs may not receive assistance for miscellaneous items for chainsaw reimbursement.
  • Applicants who receive a clean and removal award from FEMA are not eligible for assistance for miscellaneous items for chainsaw reimbursement.

Specific Reasons for Denial

Expenses incurred for generators purchased, leased or rented outside the established time frame are not eligible for reimbursement. Generators that are not needed for medical necessity are not eligible.

10210.16 Critical Needs Assistance (CNA)

Revision 21-1; Effective August 10, 2021

Texas may provide financial assistance under the ONA provision of the IHP to applicants who have immediate or critical needs because they are displaced from their primary dwelling. Immediate or critical needs are lifesaving and life-sustaining items including, but not limited to, water, food, first aid, prescriptions, infant formula, diapers, consumable medical supplies, durable medical equipment, personal hygiene items and fuel for transportation.

Program Request and Approval

The state of Texas must submit a written request to FEMA to implement CNA. FEMA's Individual Assistance Division director may authorize assistance when the majority of applicants from the declared area are, or will be, displaced from their primary residence for an extended period of time, generally seven days or more. The state of Texas will have 14 days from the date of the declaration to submit the request for CNA. CNA will be approved for the initial 14-day period from the date of the presidential declaration. When necessary based on applicant need, this period of assistance may be extended by the FEMA Individual Assistance Division director, if requested by the state of Texas.

Conditions of Eligibility

Applicants will be considered for assistance if all the following apply:

  • They pass FEMA's identity verification process;

  • At registration, they assert that they have critical needs and request expenses for those needs and expenses;

  • Their pre-disaster primary residence as reported on their application (occupancy verification required) is located in an area designated for CNA; and
  • They are displaced (or will need to relocate) from their pre-disaster primary residence as a result of the disaster.

Limitations and Exclusions

Unless otherwise indicated by the state of Texas:

  • CNA is limited to $500 per eligible household;
  • Applicants who apply during the eligible period and resolve all issues impacting eligibility prior to the end of the registration period and any approved extensions may receive CNA.

CNA will be awarded as a one-time payment and will always be auto-determined by FEMA. ONA will not manually process this type of assistance. There is no ineligibility letter and there is no appeal for this expedited award.

10210.16.1 Clean and Removal Assistance (CRA)

Revision 21-1; Effective August 10, 2021

Texas may provide a limited amount of financial assistance to homeowners with disaster-caused real property damage who do not qualify for home repair assistance because the damage did not render the home uninhabitable. CRA is intended to ensure contamination from floodwaters is addressed in a timely manner to prevent additional losses and potential health and safety concerns. Individual property owners will be responsible for performing or contracting for services to remove contaminants and disinfect surface areas of their homes that have been affected by floodwater.

Program Request and Approval

The state must submit a written request to FEMA to implement CRA. The GAR or TAR must submit a written request for CRA to the FCO. CRA may only be requested in disasters where "flood" is listed as an incident type. CRA must be approved by the RA prior to implementation. The eligibility period for CRA will correspond to the standard FEMA registration period of 60 days, but will not include extension periods unless specifically authorized by the RA.

Conditions of Eligibility

In addition to meeting general conditions of eligibility (see Section 10210.6, General Conditions of Eligibility), applicants must meet the following conditions in order to receive CRA:

  • The pre-disaster primary residence is located in an area designated for individual assistance.
  • The applicant has at least one real property line item recorded during inspection as flood-damaged.
  • The pre-disaster primary residence is not covered by insurance for flood damage, including flood or mobile home insurance, at the time of the disaster.
  • The applicant receives a denial indicating the disaster-damaged primary residence was safe to occupy.

Limitations and Exclusions

  • CRA is limited to $550 per eligible household. This amount is based on the average historical cost of cleaning, sanitizing, and removing floor covering after a flood.
  • CRA will be awarded as a one-time payment.
  • The CRA award will be deducted from any subsequent home repair assistance award.
  • If FEMA determines that the subsequent home repair assistance award would be less than the $550 CRA award, the applicant will not receive additional funds.

10210.17 Group Flood Insurance Policy

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

Eligible Expenses

Texas may provide assistance for purchasing a Group Flood Insurance Policy (GFIP). The financial assistance will be provided on behalf of the applicant to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Specific Conditions for Eligibility

  • The applicant is referred to ONA though an SBA referral or is referred to ONA due to a failed income test (SBA = FIT);
  • The applicant does not have an established requirement to maintain flood insurance due to a previous FEMA award;
  • The applicant has met standard verification requirements and is eligible for insurable home or personal property damages caused by flood;
  • The applicant has no pre-existing coverage and the home/property can be insured;
  • The applicant has available funds under the ONA financial assistance maximum; and
  • The applicant resides in a damaged dwelling located in a flood zone A, V or W.


Examples

  • An applicant has $4,000 of real property damage and $3,000 of personal property damage due to flood, her dwelling is located in a special flood hazard zone and she currently has no insurance coverage. The applicant fails the SBA income test. The applicant will receive $7,000 of real and personal property damage and an IHP-imposed NFIRA requirement. The applicant is eligible for GFIP financial assistance that will be provided for and sent to the NFIP by the ONA supervisor/grant coordinating officer (GCO) on behalf of the applicant.
  • An applicant has $4,000 of real property damage and $3,000 of personal property damage due to flood. The applicant passes the income test. The applicant receives $4,000 of real property assistance and an IHP-imposed NFIRA requirement. After applying to SBA, the applicant is provided a full loan to cover all additional disaster-related needs. The applicant is not eligible for the personal property assistance or the GFIP financial assistance.
  • An applicant has $4,000 of real property damage and $3,000 of personal property damage due to flood. The applicant passes the income test. The applicant receives $4,000 of real property assistance and an IHP-imposed NFIRA requirement. After applying to SBA, the applicant is denied assistance and is referred to IHP for additional Other Needs Assistance. The applicant is eligible for $3,000 of personal property assistance as well as GFIP financial assistance that will be paid for and sent to the NFIP by the ONA GCO on behalf of the applicant.

Specific Reasons for Denial

  • Applicants that received a limited or partial loan from the SBA will not receive a GFIP.
  • Applicants that received replacement housing will not receive a GFIP, unless they lack SBA loan repayment ability and are referred to ONA with personal property damage.
  • Applicants who live in a non-permanent travel trailer will not be eligible for a GFIP policy and will not be subject to a National Flood Insurance Reform Act (NFIRA) requirement.

Considerations for Group Insurance Premiums

  • GFIP coverage will be equal to the maximum amount of the IHP award each year.
    Note: That award amount is adjusted annually (in October each year) in line with the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers.
  • The GFIP policy coverage will start 60 days after the declaration date and run for 36 months thereafter.
  • Applicants who live in a non-permanent travel trailer will not be eligible for a GFIP policy and will not be subject to a National Flood Insurance Reform Act (NFIRA) requirement.

Verification

Payment of the GFIP will usually be based upon the personal property payment of ONA with a FEMA flood insurance requirement within NEMIS.

10210.18 Unspecified Types of Assistance and Items

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

The state may determine that other specific services needed for recovery expenses are eligible on a case-by-case basis. This category is reserved for services and items that are currently unspecified, but are necessary expenses and serious needs that are unique to a specific disaster. The final decision on these items will be made by the GCO and SCO.

10210.19 Notification

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

Applicants are entitled to prompt notification of assistance decisions by letter. The state will use letters in NEMIS to notify applicants of their eligibility. The letters will be mailed to the applicant by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Processing Service Center (NPSC), as FEMA handles all correspondence under the "Joint" administration of ONA. The state will create its own letters addressing recoupments and appeals considerations. A copy of all state-generated letters will be provided to the application case file in NEMIS.

Types of notification letters:

  • Approval
  • Denial
  • Withdrawal
  • Requests for information
  • Recoupments
  • Appeals
  • Miscellaneous (referrals, etc.)
  • Flood insurance requirement, specifically, when flood insurance purchase and maintenance is a condition of the assistance award, a letter will notify the applicant of the requirement

Line Item Specific Guidelines

A damaged helmet will be determined eligible when the inspector determines that a mode of transportation that requires a helmet exists in the household.

Examples

  • An applicant has a dirt bike that is used for fun on weekends. The applicant has a damaged helmet. The applicant will not be paid for the replacement of the helmet.
  • An applicant uses a motorcycle to drive to work and back each day. The disaster damaged the helmet. The applicant will receive assistance for the damaged helmet.
  • An applicant has a helmet that was damaged in the disaster. The applicant does not own a vehicle of any sort for which a helmet is required. The applicant will not receive assistance for the helmet.

11000 Case Decision, Review and Closing

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

This section includes information applicable to the overall IHP/ONA program grant decision-making and processing, rather than to any particular grant category. In addition to casework guidelines, the section includes information on post-decision activities, such as applicant notification, appeal procedures, applicant claims of lost or stolen warrants, and audit procedures.

 

11100 Casework Documentation Guidelines

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

 

11110 Change of Address

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

 

The worker records changes in the applicant's mailing address in NEMIS. Updating NEMIS ensures that the current mailing address is entered in the Disaster Assistance Payment Program (DAPP).

 

11120 Explanation of Denials

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The worker should explain, in writing, as fully as possible, decisions to deny or grant awards. For example, if insurance or SBA meets serious needs in the personal property category, the worker documents the reason for disallowing grant funds in this category.

Cases marked with "IDV_FAILED," in the banner on NEMIS, indicates the applicant’s name and Social Security number do not match and will be sent an IDV_Failed denial letter and be given 60 days to comply with identification verification.

 

11130 Voluntary Withdrawal

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

 

The applicant has the right to withdraw from consideration for a grant. The department will notify the applicant that his grant application is withdrawn based on his request. The letter acknowledging his request to withdraw from grant consideration will include notification of his right to request reconsideration of the grant decision.

If an applicant indicates, orally or in writing, that he wishes to withdraw from consideration for a grant, the worker records voluntary withdrawal as the grant decision in NEMIS.

 

11200 ONA Policy Interpretations

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

The FACO or designee is responsible for interpreting policy for ONA staff. Eligibility workers and sign-off staff may encounter problems or have questions that are not clearly addressed in this handbook. If the problem cannot be resolved by supervisory staff, the eligibility supervisor submits the questions in writing to the IHP/ONA staff members assigned responsibility for policy clearance. The request for policy clarification should:

  • identify the case by name and number;
  • describe the situation (including enough information so that state office staff can answer the question);
  • identify the sections of the handbook that apply to the policy clarification, are difficult to interpret, or have ambiguous or unclear language; and
  • indicate the interpretation that he feels is most equitable.

The policy specialist responds in writing to the question. Some interpretations are applicable only to the referenced case. Others may represent a change of policy, making it necessary to revise the handbook.

 

11300 Notification

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

Applicants are entitled to prompt notification of grant decisions. FEMA is responsible for notifying applicants by letter of the grant eligibility determination.

Letters approving grants include a grant approval statement, the grant amount, the purpose for which the grant is approved, and the notification of the right to request reconsideration of a grant decision. When applicable, grant approval letters include flood insurance requirements and conditions.

Letters disapproving grants include a statement that the application is denied, the reasons for denial, and the notification of the right to request reconsideration of a grant decision.

 

1400 Disbursements

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

 

The ESP leader or designee transmits grant decision data to the Health and Human Services Accounting System (HHSAS) for processing. First, a vendor identification (VID) maintenance file is produced. This file is used by HHSAS to add disaster victims to the comptroller's VID file so that checks are printed with the correct name and address information. Once the data is uploaded on the HHSAS system, HHSAS staff then produce a payment file based on grant approvals. The file is to be processed by HHSAS. HHSAS staff submit the file to the state comptroller's office. The comptroller's staff print warrants and return them to HHSAS, where they are mailed to grant recipients. Disaster funds, by regulation, are exempt from garnishment.

 

11410 Lost or Stolen Warrants

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

 

The applicant is responsible for notifying the ONA Program Office when he does not receive a grant warrant. ONA staff will notify the applicant of the required procedures for warrant reissue.

When an applicant notifies the ONA office that he did not receive a warrant, ONA staff must notify HHSAS of the applicant's claim. HHSAS coordinates with ONA to ensure that department procedures for resolving these claims are followed.

 

11420 Supplemental Grants

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

Applicants may be entitled to a supplemental grant if the review and auditing process reveals that the initial grant amount has not adequately met the applicant's serious needs or necessary expenses. The total grant amount must not exceed the maximum grant allowed by federal law.

 

11500 Reconsiderations

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The applicant may request that the ONA provision of IHP reconsider a grant decision by writing a letter to the ONA grant coordinating officer (GCO) within 60 days of the date of the letter notifying the applicant of the decision. If the applicant files a request for reconsideration after the 60-day deadline, it will not be considered unless the applicant demonstrates good cause for failure to request consideration within that time period. The GCO or designee will be the sole determiner of whether good cause is shown. Good cause means circumstances beyond the applicant's control. The filing of a timely request for reconsideration is a prerequisite to an administrative appeal.

The applicant is notified of the ONA reconsideration decision by letter within 20 days of the reconsideration. The letter notifying the applicant of the grant reconsideration shall contain notice of the right to appeal the reconsideration decision by filing a written request for an appeal with ONA within 60 days of the date of the reconsideration decision letter. The appeal will be decided by the department's hearing officer in the appropriate region. Because FEMA pays for all housing repairs up to the maximum allowed under the Housing Assistance provision of the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program, the applicant does not have appeal rights of FEMA's real property decision through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

 

11510 Reconsideration Procedures

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

Upon receipt of the reconsideration request, the FACO or designee will review the case file to determine if needs have been met. The FACO or designee may request that a second inspection be conducted by FEMA.

If the request involves real property repairs and/or personal property, the request will be forwarded to FEMA for reverification. If additional real property repairs are allowed, FEMA will pick up these costs under the Housing Assistance provision of the IHP, up to the maximum allowed.

All requests for reverification by the state will be honored to ensure that the state meets the requirements published in the Texas Register. All results of FEMA's reverification will be forwarded to ONA via electronic transmission in NEMIS.

If ONA receives a request for personal property only, the reverification will be conducted by a FEMA verifier and ONA will pay the supplemental grant, if the applicant is eligible for additional funds.

 

11600 Appeals

Revision 08-1; Effective April 23, 2008

 

The applicant must direct any request for appeal in writing to the IHP/ONA within 60 days of the date of the reconsideration decision. The appeal hearing is held by a hearing officer in the region where the applicant is living at the time he files the appeal. The appeal hearing and the written hearing decision must be completed by the hearing officer within 90 days from the receipt of the Petition for Hearing within the IHP/ONA office.

The right to appeal is limited to eligibility and grant determinations. No appeal may be made if IHP has provided the maximum grant allowed by law.

Because FEMA pays for all housing repairs up to the maximum allowed under the Housing Assistance provision of the IHP, the applicant does not have appeal rights of FEMA's real property decision through the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

The hearing is expedited if the disaster program is closing. All grant award activity, including eligibility determination, disbursement and disposition of appeals, must be completed within 18 months following the declaration of the disaster.

Before a case is submitted for a formal hearing, FEMA will perform a second inspection for personal property if the personal property items are available for an inspection.

As part of the hearing process, the ONA grant coordinating officer permits the applicant to examine any documents submitted by ONA to the hearing officer, if requested by the applicant, by sending copies of the documents to the applicant within five days of the applicant's request.

At the time a disaster declaration is made and the State Administrative Plan approved, ONA staff must deliver to the State Office Hearings Department a copy of the plan, any itemized price lists applicable to the disaster, and a list of regions affected by the disaster. The Hearings Department ensures that copies of this material are forwarded to the appropriate regional attorneys for use by the hearing officers.

In all procedural matters not superseded by this section, the fair hearings rules in Title 40 Texas Administrative Code, §79.1101- 79.1317, apply.

A record of all documents submitted and a tape recording of any oral testimony is prepared by the hearing officer and preserved for a period of two years following the ruling on the appeal.

 

11610 Appeal Procedures

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

When ONA receives a request for an appeal, the following activities occur:

  • Within five days of the receipt of the written request for appeal, ONA staff complete Form H4800, Fair Hearing Request Summary, and Form H4800-A, Addendum, and forward the request for appeal to the regional attorney of the region where the applicant resides. The program completion deadline must be noted on Form H4800. Also, a copy of the State Administrative Plan (SAP) and the web address for the ONA online handbook is provided.
  • During the first five days from the appeal date, ONA staff may try to resolve any questions or concerns the applicant may have and, if applicable, reissue another reconsideration decision. If the applicant, prior to the time Form H4800 is sent to the regional attorney, decides to withdraw the appeal, ONA should obtain a written statement from the applicant that he wishes to withdraw the appeal before closing the file. It is not necessary to send Form H4800 to the regional attorney if the applicant makes clear his desire to withdraw the appeal.

Before the hearing, ONA staff will:

  • review the case,
  • write a summary of case processing and justification of decisions,
  • print the entire case record, including Form H4800-A, and mail a copy to the applicant and hearing officer in charge of the appeal, and
  • complete data entry processing to show that the request for appeal has been received.

When the hearing officer makes an appeal decision, the hearing officer:

  • notifies the applicant of the appeal decision in writing, and
  • sends a copy of the decision to the ONA office.

Upon receipt of the hearing decision, ONA staff:

  • file a copy of the decision in the case record,
  • complete data processing to show the appeal decision,
  • take appropriate action, if any is ordered by the hearing officer, and
  • complete Page 2 of Form H4807, Action Taken on Hearing Decision, and return it to the hearing officer to show that required action has been completed for cases in which the ONA grant decision was reversed.

 

11700 Sampling Grant Decisions

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

A random sample of grant decisions must be conducted by the FACO manager or designee. This sample is to verify that:

  • grant funds are meeting applicants' needs,
  • grant funds are not duplicating assistance from other means, and
  • grant decisions are meeting floodplain management and flood insurance requirements.

The sample must be conducted early in the disaster operation, prior to completion of 25 percent of the total decisions expected, and within 60 days after the presidential disaster declaration date.

Sample size must be five percent of cases received; however, at least 10 cases must be reviewed. It is not necessary to review more than 100 cases.

Actions are to be taken to correct problems. The random sample is not an audit. It is for the purpose of determining whether the program is meeting people's needs and the eligibility criteria.

When the sampling and analysis are completed, results are to be attached to the statistical report and made available to the state coordinating officer (SCO).

 

11800 Audits

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The SCO ensures that both program and financial audits are performed. Audit procedures are described in the State Administrative Plan submitted by Nov. 30 each year. All disbursements for which Texas requests federal funds are also subject to federal audits. Disaster Assistance staff provide reports to FEMA. These reports help FEMA monitor decisions to determine if benefits are being duplicated. Audits are made according to federal regulations in 44 CFR, Part 206.110-120, Subpart D, Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households.

 

11900 Recovering Grant Funds

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

ONA must attempt to recover grant funds if it appears that these funds have been:

  • obtained fraudulently or misapplied, or
  • duplicated by assistance from other means, or
  • identified as overpayment because of administrative or data entry error.

Recovery procedures must be applied in accordance with the Office of Attorney General guidelines described in Title 1, Texas Administrative Code, §59.2 and §59.3.

However, ONA will not attempt recovery of overpayments that are automatically determined (Auto-D) by FEMA. These overpayments are FEMA's responsibility.

 

11910 Monitoring Methods

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The following monitoring methods and procedures are used to determine if recovery of funds is required:

  • Random sample of grant decisions (see Section 11700, Sampling Grant Decisions, for additional information).
  • Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) audit.
  • Referral from other disaster assistance programs.
  • Referral from local, state or federal government, and other sources.
  • FEMA mid-program review.
  • Comparison of automated system reports on warrants issued with case records.
  • Automated tracking of requirements to purchase flood insurance.

 

11920 Offsets of Awards from Previous Disaster Assistance

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The state, including the Office of the Attorney General, does not have the authority to offset a debt owed by an ONA award recipient from an award made on one disaster against an award made to the same recipient on a subsequent disaster. The state does have the authority (44 CFR 13.43, Enforcement) to deny the award in full to an applicant who has not responded to recoupment requests on a previous award or is not meeting payment plan deadlines to the state's satisfaction. (Note: If the applicant contacts ONA and returns the funds owed from the previous disaster, or establishes a satisfactory payment plan, the award for the current disaster may be released.)

 

11930 Recovery Procedures – Fraud

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

Criminal and Civil Penalties

In accordance with the applicable sections of Titles 18 and 31 of the United States Code, and Section 314 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, the government may impose criminal and civil penalties in cases of fraud, false claims and theft of funds awarded under the various provisions of the Stafford Act.

Because federal and state agencies are equally responsible for maintaining the integrity of the IHP, prosecutions also may be brought under the applicable state criminal and civil statutes.

The associate director, State and Local Programs, Support Program and FEMA will ensure that any reports of suspected criminal activity or civil fraud against the program are expeditiously referred to the Inspector General, FEMA.

Processing Reports of Suspected False Claims, Fraud and Theft of Funds

Any indication of criminal activity with respect to the ONA provisions of the IHP will be referred to the Inspector General, FEMA, immediately after it is discovered or reported. Referrals will be made in accordance with the following instructions:

  1. The federal award coordinating officer (FACO) will notify the federal and state coordinating officers within 20 working days when a case of suspected fraud is discovered.
  2. Within 20 working days of the date of the FACO's notification of suspected fraud, the federal coordinating officer (FCO) will refer the matter to the Inspector General, FEMA. An information copy of this correspondence will be provided to the regional director.
  3. The FCO will maintain all documentation pertinent to the referral for use by investigators assigned to the case.
  4. The Inspector General will notify the FCO or the disaster recovery manager if the case will be investigated. An information copy of this correspondence will be sent to the regional director.
  5. The Inspector General will be responsible for liaison with state and local law enforcement authorities. The contact point for such liaison is:

Federal Emergency Management Agency
Office of the Inspector General
500 C Street, S. W.
Washington, DC 20472

US DHS OIG, Asst. SAC
5850 San Felipe Rd., Suite 300
Houston, TX 77057

Funds recovered from court order or other settlement will be received by the FACO, Emergency Services Program, and forwarded to HHSC Fiscal Management Services for accounting and appropriate disbursement to state and federal funding sources.

 

11940 Recovery Procedures – Other Than Fraud

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

For cases identified as overpayments due to ONA administrative or data entry error, the recovery procedures outlined below begin upon discovery of the overpayment. As stated earlier in this section, ONA will not attempt recovery of overpayments due to FEMA processing errors.

Recovery Procedures

  1. Send a demand letter no later than 30 days after the obligation becomes delinquent. (All demand letters should be mailed in an envelope bearing the notation "address correction requested" in conformity with federal regulations.)

    Note: The notice must advise the recipient that he has a right to request an administrative review of the recovery effort within 20 days of receipt of the notice. If the recipient does not respond to the notice, the right to administrative review is waived, and collection efforts continue as described in Items 2 through 11 below.

    If the recipient does respond, an administrative review of the case record will be conducted by FACO or designee. The recipient is advised of the administrative review decision.
     
  2. Send a second demand letter no sooner than 30 days but no later than 60 days after the first demand letter. This letter also will advise the grant recipient that his case may be referred to the Attorney General's Office for legal action.
  3. If the grant recipient fails to return the funds, cases are prepared for referral to the HHSC Office of General Council (OGC). ONA removes all cases with owed amounts under $500. The OGC will not accept referrals less than $500.
  4. If the grant recipient owes more than $500 and fails to return the funds, ONA prepares a third demand letter for HHSC OGC approval and signature and mails the letter by certified mail.
  5. If there is no response to the third demand letter from OGC:
    • Remove all cases with owed amounts less than $2,000 and suspend from collection.
    • Remaining cases with debts more than $2,000 are reviewed to determine if debt appears to be collectible. The criteria used to make this determination include the applicant's age, income, assets and overall ability to repay as per the State of Texas Administrative Plan.
  6. The ONA office sends a memo to OGC listing the cases determined uncollectible with supporting documentation.
  7. OGC reviews the information and determines if further collection efforts are necessary. OGC then notifies ONA what action to take. If OGC approves ONA determination of "uncollectible," then these cases are suspended and no further collection action is taken. ONA does not have the authority to forgive any debt owed to the State of Texas. The applicants’ files in the state’s database (DAPP) will be put on permanent hold for any potential payments related to future disasters. Applicants will not be awarded any potential payments related to future disasters until debt has been paid or acceptable payment plan has been established.
  8. All other cases (collectibles more than $2,000) are listed in a memo from the ONA Program to OGC requesting that the case be referred to the Attorney General's office for handling. ONA makes two copies of each case record and sends them to OGC with the memo.
  9. A letter from HHSC to the State Attorney General's office is prepared by OGC for HHSC commissioner's signature.
  10. Attorney General's office notifies HHSC OGC of action taken.
  11. Attorney General's Collections Division notifies applicant that legal action may be taken if debt is not satisfied.

Recovery Reporting and Record-Keeping

  1. Not later than the 30th day after the department determines that normal department collection procedures for an obligation owed to the agency have failed, the department shall report the uncollected and delinquent obligation to the attorney general for further collection efforts.
  2. An annual delinquent obligations report is required to be submitted to the Attorney General's office of all outstanding delinquent obligations owed to each state agency.
  3. The ONA office will maintain record-keeping in order to apply appropriate penalties in future disasters in accordance with federal regulations.
  4. The ONA office will maintain an accounts receivable file. Any funds returned to ONA will be forwarded to the HHSC Accounts Receivable Tracking System (ARTS) to be credited to the appropriate disaster account.
  5. Returned funds will be handled as covered in Item 4 above.

 

11950 Outstanding Checks/Expired Checks

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

A report on the status of outstanding checks/warrants will be provided by the Health and Human Services Accounting System (HHSAS) as part of the IHP (ONA) closeout package completed by the TDEM and submitted to FEMA. The state comptroller will provide HHSAS a listing of expired warrants and transfer the funds associated with the cancellation of warrants within 60 days after the warrant’s expiration date.

Once the disaster is closed for processing, HHSC will not reissue any warrants, including warrants that have been reported lost or stolen.

The federal share of the outstanding checks/warrants will be returned by HHSAS to FEMA within 90 days after the warrant's expiration date. Federal funds will be returned to FEMA via warrant with a listing, by federal disaster number, of clients who have cancelled checks/warrants.

12000 Automated Control System

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

12100 Overview of Automated Systems

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The four systems involved in delivery of benefits to victims of Texas disasters are:

  • the FEMA National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS),
  • the Disaster Assistance Payment Program (DAPP),
  • the State of Texas Comptroller's Vendor Payment System, and
  • the Health and Human Services Accounting System (HHSAS).

The FEMA NEMIS system operates in the National Processing Service Centers (NPSC) in Denton, Texas; Hyattsville, Maryland; and Mt. Weather, Virginia. The system is written by FEMA national office and is used in disaster recovery operations nationwide to track government assistance to disaster victims.

Data from the FEMA system is transferred to DAPP. DAPP updates and maintains the file and creates payment transactions, which are sent to HHSAS.

The DAPP is maintained by HHSC Information Technology. Its primary function is to create a payment file to submit to HHSAS and then the state comptroller for printing of disaster assistance warrants. First, a vendor identification (VID) record is created. The records are assembled into a maintenance file. This file is used by HHSC's Fiscal Management Services (FMS) to add disaster victims to the comptroller's VID file so that warrants are printed with the correct name and address information. Once the data is exported into the HHSAS, the file is added to the HHSAS pay file and sent to the state comptroller. The comptroller is authorized to produce warrants or issue electronic funds transfers (EFT) for disaster victims.

The comptroller's Vendor Payment System prints warrants based on the file provided by HHSAS.

 

12110 Tasks and Responsibilities Involving Automation

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

ONA is responsible for:

  • downloading the FEMA State Export to populate DAPP,
  • responding to staff and applicant inquiries,
  • training temporary staff,
  • maintaining system hardware and software,
  • coordinating with IT to:
    • analyze and upgrade DAPP,
    • correct erroneous transactions, and
    • download information; and
  • coordinating with FEMA system programmer to manage the exchange of data.

 

12200 FEMA National Emergency Management Information System (NEMIS)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The NEMIS system includes personnel, fiscal, program reporting and eligibility systems for the Housing Assistance (HA) and Other Needs Assistance (ONA) provisions of the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program (IHP). ONA workers access the NEMIS system to review application information and make an eligibility determination. The ONA decision is entered in NEMIS.

The parts of the NEMIS system that directly affect the Other Needs Assistance Program are:

  • The Teleregistration system. Applications are taken over a toll-free telephone line and downloaded to the FEMA integrated database (NEMIS).
  • The Individual Assistance Center. Applications may be taken via the Internet. The website address is https://www.disasterassistance.gov/.
  • The Automated Construction Estimating (ACE) system. Inspections are registered electronically by a pen-based computing system. Information is downloaded to the FEMA integrated database. The prices for each item are programmed at the start of each disaster.
  • The application processing module of the FEMA integrated database. The purpose of the module is to enable ONA staff to make grant decisions and prevent the cooperating agencies from giving overlapping or duplicate benefits to the same victim. The agencies involved are Small Business Administration (SBA), FEMA and HHSC. Insurance benefits and assistance from voluntary agencies are also taken into consideration. FEMA enters SBA and Housing Assistance decision information in the NEMIS system. ONA staff enter the ONA decision in NEMIS.
  • Notification letters are printed directly from the NEMIS system by FEMA.

 

12210 The ONA File

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

For the Texas ONA program, FEMA's NEMIS system produces a file of ONA cases that consists of applicant identifying information and payment information. The disaster data file from NEMIS is downloaded to DAPP to form a database, eliminating duplicate data entry for ONA. Disaster payment authorizations are downloaded from NEMIS into the DAPP system.

 

12300 The Disaster Assistance Payment Program (DAPP)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The primary functions of the DAPP system are to update the database, prepare payment data and transmit the data to HHSAS (see Section 12400, Comptroller’s Vendor Identification (VID) Payment System). The DAPP system also provides a means of tracking case actions and producing reports.

The DAPP system consists of a master file of all ONA approved applicants and programs to create pay files and statistical reports. The pay file is created and updated from transactions transmitted from the NEMIS state export. Data from the Comptroller's Verification Report is also used to update the pay file with warrant information.

The DAPP system holds transactions which will not meet comptroller format requirements. It also holds transactions because of sequence and calculation errors. It holds and reports duplicate Social Security numbers. It permits flagging cases to be held for payment until a vendor identification problem is resolved.

 

12310 Error Correction

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

In response to error reports from the DAPP or HHSAS, transaction errors from the system and vendor identification problems are handled by updating the database, correcting transactions and releasing transactions from hold. The DAPP system maintains an audit trail of all transactions.

 

12320 Tracking and Reporting

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Reports available on the DAPP system include:

  • The Daily Status Report (DARIS) contains the number of approvals, dollar amount of approvals, average grant amount, and reconsiderations and appeals.
  • The County Web Report detailing grant award activity by county.
  • Payment Projection Report – a daily report stating the projected total(s) by disaster to be paid out to clients for the current day.
  • Disbursement Report – a report listing the prior day payments/warrants paid out and to whom.
  • Ad hoc reports can be created in response to management needs in DAPP.

 

12330 Program Maintenance

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

During a disaster, this system requires daily monitoring from an IT programmer and production control staff. Occasional programming changes are made to conform to new FEMA/IHP regulations or procedures.

At the conclusion of a disaster operation, and after the Texas Disaster Emergency Management (TDEM) audit, the DAPP files are maintained.

 

12400 Comptroller's Vendor Identification (VID) Payment System

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

The data files in HHSAS are updated with DAPP input. HHSAS produces a Vendor Identification (VID) maintenance file, a pay file and associated reports. These files and reports are delivered to Central Operations in HHSC Fiscal Management Services (FMS). HHSAS provides the interface with the comptroller's vendor payment system.

The comptroller’s Uniform States Accounting System (USAS) maintains a VID file. The VID maintenance file, produced by HHSAS, is run prior to the pay file to update the VID file. After the VID maintenance file is run, the pay file is used to produce warrants for disaster victims.

Upon completion of the warrant processing by the comptroller’s office, both the warrants and a file verifying warrant numbers, dates and amounts are transmitted to FMS to update the DAPP system. The warrants are then mailed out by HHSAS.

 

12500 Health and Human Services Accounting System (HHSAS)

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

HHSAS provides the interface between ONA and the comptroller's VID File Maintenance section, as well as other entities in the comptroller's office and the state treasury. Specific ONA activities are:

  • transferring files to the comptroller's office,
  • submitting forms to update the VID file,
  • mailing warrants to applicants,
  • replacing lost or stolen warrants, and
  • re-mailing returned warrants.

HHSAS Financials is an integrated software application that includes PeopleSoft modules:

  • Accounts Payable
  • General Ledger

These PeopleSoft modules provide the following functions to process the pay file in HHSAS:

  • Includes key functions such as expenditure processing, invoices, check writing (local funds) and TINS vendor setup and maintenance.
  • Is integrated with budget checking functions to ensure spending controls are enforced.
  • Includes primary functions of a general ledger, such as journal processing, online editing and validations of transactions, real time budget, checking and posting, and a daily interface to USAS.
  • Incorporated budget control mechanisms can be tailored to meet specific requirements of each HHS agency, including Appropriation, Allotment, Organization and Object level budget checks.
  • Includes grant and project accounting, setup, tracking and reporting.

13000 Policy Alerts

Revision 06-1; Effective October 1, 2005

 

13100 Purpose

Revision 03-1; Effective Upon Receipt

 

Occasionally, we will need to:

  • notify you of a change in policy that will be effective before we can amend this handbook;
  • inform you of a forthcoming revision to this handbook, which you may need to act on prior to receiving it; or
  • provide a policy clarification.

We will do this by issuing a Policy Alert. After making notations in the appropriate section(s) of the handbook, please file and record each Policy Alert you receive in this section of the handbook. This will allow you to administer the program based on the most current ONA policy.

Policy Alert Number Date Received Date Effective Description
- - - -

Forms

ES = Spanish version available.

Form Title  
H1958-A Other Needs Assistance Program Stuffer  
H1970 ONA Case Review  
H1988 Disaster Assistance Grants  
H4800 Fair Hearing Request Summary  

Revision 21-1, Changes to Reconcile IHPONA and FEMA IAPPG V.1.1

Revision 21-1; Effective August 10, 2021

 

The following changes were made:

Section Title Change
10130 Duplication of Benefits Adds private insurance as a potential duplication of benefits for group flood insurance policies.
10210.3 SBA Considerations Removes moving and storage from duplicated categories, adds group flood insurance policy and clarifies language.
10210.8 ONA Specific Guidelines Changes washer and dryer from miscellaneous to personal property and makes additional clarifications.
10210.11 Personal Property Guidelines Makes a minor correction.
10210.12 Transportation Guidelines Removes migrant worker award and award for a vehicle not owned prior to the disaster, adds salvage title requirement for all vehicle replacement awards, adds language allowing for assistance if damage falls below the deductible and adds deductible costs are ineligible.
10210.16 Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) Adds the occupancy verification requirement and explains eligibility may be considered if issues impacting it are resolved in a certain time frame, and adds that it is always auto-determined by FEMA.
10210.16.1 Clean and Remove Assistance (CRA) Increases award amount from $500 to $550.

Revision 20-3

Revision 20-3; Effective November 20, 2020

 

The following changes were made:

Section Title Change
8110 General Information on IHP National Eligibility Criteria Adds moving and storage expenses to the list of assistance that victims are eligible for without first applying to the Small Business Administration (SBA).
10130 Duplication of Benefits Removes SBA – Personal property loan in the Duplication of Benefits table, ONA Category 6, Other Sources of Assistance.

Revision 20-2

Revision 20-2; Effective November 18, 2020

 

The following changes were made:

Section Title Change
2100 Definitions Adds a definition for Federal Award Coordinating Officer (FACO) and deletes the definition for Grant Coordinating Officer (GCO).
2200 Acronyms Adds FACO and deletes GCO.
3110 Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Overview Replaces GCO with FACO.
4200 Emergency Services Program (ESP) Replaces GCO with FACO.
8110 General Information on IHP National Eligibility Criteria Adds child care expenses and miscellaneous expenses to the bullets under victims are eligible for assistance in the following areas without first applying to SBA.
8420 Transportation Updates the transportation maximum grant from $7,000 to $9,000.
8440 Funeral Updates the funeral maximum allowance from $6,500 to $9,000.
9220 ONA Loss Verification Updates the list of responsibilities.
10210.9 Medical and Dental Guidelines Replaces FEMA with Texas in the first sentence and removes information regarding mental health.
10210.11 Personal Property Guidelines Replaces FEMA with Texas in the first sentence.
10210.12 Transportation Guidelines Clarifies information in the first paragraph and removes information to receive assistance for a damaged vehicle that was gifted to a non-household member.
10210.13 Moving and Storage Guidelines Edits the first sentence and adds information under Eligible Expenses.
10210.14 Child Care Guidelines Changes “the state” to Texas.
10210.15 Miscellaneous Expenses Guidelines Changes FEMA to Texas in the first sentence and removes “if the generator was not verified during the inspection” in the bullet regarding a letter from a physician stating that a generator is medically required.
10210.16 Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) Changes FEMA to Texas in the first sentence and clarifies in the last bullet that applicants not approved for this type of assistance at the time of registration will not receive a denial letter and this decision cannot be appealed.
10210.16.1 Clean and Removal Assistance (CRA) Adds a section explaining CRA.
10210.17 Group Flood Insurance Policy Changes “the state” to Texas in the first sentence and clarifies the information under Specific Conditions for Eligibility.
11200 ONA Policy Interpretations Replaces GCO with FACO.
11510 Reconsideration Procedures Replaces GCO with FACO.
11700 Sampling Grant Decisions Replaces GCO with FACO.
11930 Recovery Procedures - Fraud Replaces GCO with FACO.
11940 Recovery Procedures – Other Than Fraud Replaces GCO with FACO.

Revision 20-1

Revision 20-1; Effective June 1, 2020

 

The following changes were made:

Section Title Change
10110 Serious Need and Necessary Expense Clarifies “serious need” and “necessary expense.”
10210.9 Medical and Dental Guidelines Updates financial assistance provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to individuals and households with medical or dental expenses caused by a disaster. Adds mental health services and ADA service animals also considered eligible expenses.
10210.10 Funeral Guidelines Changes the maximum allowance for funerals from $6,500 to $9,000 per death. Adds definitions for funeral assistance key terms. Clarifies conditions of eligibility and required documentation.
10210.11 Personal Property Guidelines Updates FEMA assistance and conditions applicants must meet for eligibility.
10210.11.1 Stored Personal Property Adds a new section for damaged personal property items in storage at the time of a disaster.
10210.12 Transportation Guidelines Updates transportation repair and transportation replacement that may be awarded, not to exceed $9,000 per vehicle. Adds considerations for second vehicles and gifted vehicles.
10210.13 Moving and Storage Guidelines Updates assistance for disaster-related moving and storage of essential personal property following a disaster event.
10210.14 Child Care Guidelines Clarifies the maximum amount of assistance for child care.
10210.15 Miscellaneous Expenses Guidelines Updates FEMA financial assistance for certain disaster-caused miscellaneous expenses.
10210.16 Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) Updates FEMA financial assistance to applicants who have immediate or critical needs because they are displaced from their primary dwelling.