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FEMA to Assistance Recipients: Use Funds for Their Intended Purpose

July 13, 2016

Federal officials are cautioning those who have received disaster assistance from FEMA to use the money for its intended purpose. Recipients are also being advised to keep disaster spending receipts for three years.

“Money from FEMA is not like a tax refund from the IRS, so please don’t treat it as such,” said Federal Coordinating Officer William J. Doran III. “These funds are to help survivors in their disaster recovery and shouldn’t be used for anything else.” If an applicant spends the payment on anything other than the purpose for which it is directed, he or she may be denied assistance the next time a disaster strikes. In some cases, FEMA will ask that the money be returned.

Over the last three years, DHS and FEMA have been active in auditing disaster recovery funds to assure that the monies have been spent correctly – and completely. If a recipient receives an insurance settlement to cover the same expenses that FEMA disaster assistance was intended to cover, he or she must reimburse FEMA. Random audits are conducted to confirm funds were spent properly. Officials recommend that disaster assistance recipients:

  • Spend federal disaster aid monies for their intended purpose.
  • Move forward with disaster recovery projects in a reasonable and timely manner.
  • Keep receipts of these expenditures for at least 3-years for possible FEMA audit.
  • Check record retention requirements for IRS filings and lenders.