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Disaster Manual: Section 7- Social Security, Banking, and Financial Issues

This is the seventh section of the Disaster Manual. This section is on social security, banking, and financial issues. This resource is meant for volunteer lawyers. This resource was written by Lone Star Legal Aid. 

Disaster Manual Table of Contents

Click each title to go to that section of the manual. - Index Page

  1. Introduction
  2. FEMA Assistance
  3. Falling Trees, Flying Limbs & Loud Neighbors
  4. Landlord/Tenant Issues
  5. Real and Personal Property
  6. Employer/Employee Issues
  7. Social Security, Banking, and Financial Issues
  8. Consumer Protection Issues
  9. Insurance Issues
  10. Health Care Issues
  11. Personal Bankruptcy Issues
  12. Replacing Lost Documents
  13. Family Law Issues
  14. Education
  15. Immigration Issues
  16. Resource & Referral Guide

Bonus Resource -- Contractor Fraud Manual

 

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Disaster Manual - Full

Chapter 7 - Social Security, Banking, and Financial Issues

7.1 Social Security Benefits

Payments:
If you did not receive your regularly scheduled payment from Social Security due to a disaster, you can go to any open Social Security office and request an immediate payment. To find the nearest Social Security office call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You can also visit the Social Security website at www.socialsecurity.gov.

With very few exceptions, the Social Security Administration requires that you sign up for their direct deposit service. With direct deposit, you no longer receive a check in the mail. Instead, your money is deposited for you directly into your bank, savings and loan, or credit union account no matter what happens to interrupt mail service. If you don’t have a bank account, you can sign up for a Direct Express card, which works like a debit card. Your benefits are loaded onto the card for you to use without having to have a paper check. If you need to enroll for direct deposit or Direct Express, go to your nearest Social Security office, the www.socialsecurity.gov website, or call the toll-free Direct Express hotline at 1-800-333-1795. If your Direct Express card is lost or stolen, immediately call the Direct Express customer service department at 1-888- 741-1115. 

Rescheduling Hearings:
If you are going to miss a scheduled hearing due to being displaced by a disaster, you should immediately notify your local Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR) and make a request for postponement. If you do not have the contact information for the ODAR office your case is assigned to then call Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You should request the contact information for the ODAR office your case is assigned to and fax that office a written request for the postponement. Keep a copy and get a fax confirmation. 

Applying for Disability:
Adults — Complete the application if you are 18 years or older and unable to work due to a medical condition that is expected to last for at least 1 year or result in death. The applicant should apply for benefits at the nearest Social Security office. You can also start an application by calling the Social Security Administration’s toll-free telephone number 1-800-772-1213. You may also start your application for disability benefits online (https://secure.ssa.gov/iClaim/dib).

Be prepared to provide Social Security with the following information about you, your medical condition, and your work:

  • Birth certificate or proof of U.S citizenship, or permanent resident card number (if you are not a U.S. citizen)
  • Names and birthdates of minor children under age 18, or 18-19 attending secondary school/college full time
  • Name of current spouse; spouse’s date of birth; date you married; city, state or country where you married (if outside the U.S.); name of prior spouse if you were married over 10 years or previous marriage ended in death
  • Job history and what kind of work you did 
  • List of medical conditions  List of all healthcare providers with names and addresses
  • List of your current medications and why you are taking them
  • U.S. military service dates, branch, type of duty; or U.S. military discharge papers if you had military service before 1968
  • School: highest grade completed and date completed
  • Workers’ Compensation information

Once Social Security has all the necessary documentation, such as proof of earnings and medical evidence of disability, it will send a written decision. It will generally take three to five months to receive a decision. If you receive a denial and wish to appeal, you should file a request for reconsideration within sixty days of the date of the initial decision. If you are denied on reconsideration, a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge must be filed within sixty days. All appeals should be made as quickly as possible at your local social security field office. You can locate an office at https://www.ssa.gov/locator/.

Children — If your child has a physical or mental condition(s) that very seriously limits the child’s activities, and the condition(s) have lasted, or are expected to last, at least one year or result in death, you may wish to apply for disability benefits. The parent or guardian should apply on the child’s behalf for benefits at the nearest Social Security office or by calling the Social Security Administration’s toll-free telephone number 1-800-772-1213. Child benefits may not be applied for online.

Be prepared to provide the following with the application: 

Medical Information:

  • Name, address and phone number of every doctor, therapist, hospital or clinic that has seen or treated the child for the past year

Other Information: 

  • Name, address, and phone number of the school(s) the child has attended in the past year; include all teachers, counselors, psychologists, speech and other therapists
  • If the child has one, Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) for early intervention or Individualized Education Program (IEP) for special education services
  • Name, address, phone number of any social service programs, with caseworker name
  • Name, address, phone number of adult(s) who helps care for the child
  • Original or certified copy of child’s birth certificate; if born in another country proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency
  • Names and social security number of all children and adults who live in the house
  • Proof of income for child and all family members living in the household

Social Security Retirement/Spousal/Survivors Benefits:
The applicant may also be eligible for other kinds of Social Security benefits. The applicant may be eligible under his own account or, under certain circumstances, under someone else’s record, i.e., a retired, elderly, or disabled widow(er) or dependent family member of disabled, retired, or deceased worker. If you think you or anyone you know might be eligible for any of these benefits, you should contact the Social Security Administration and apply. 

Death Benefits:
In addition to Social Security survivors benefits (on-going monthly payments), if a spouse, an ex-spouse, or parent died, a person may also be eligible for a $225 one-time death benefit. A spouse living in the same household may receive this benefit. Spouses who were living apart may also be eligible if they received benefits on the worker’s record in the month preceding the death or if they were qualified to receive benefits upon the worker’s death. If there is no spouse, a dependent child (usually age 18 or under) can receive a one-time lump-sum death benefit.  

Medicare:
All individuals should sign up for Medicare when they turn 65. Medicare enrollment begins three months before your 65th birthday and continues for seven months. If you are currently receiving Social Security benefits, you do not need to do anything; you will be automatically enrolled in Medicare parts A and B effective the month you turn 65. If you do not receive Social Security benefits, then you will need to sign up for Medicare by calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 or online at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/medicareonly/. If you do not sign up for Medicare during your initial enrollment period, you may be subject to a penalty. 

 

7.2 Tax Relief

Advocates and disaster victims should use the IRS website as a starting point for their research. The IRS website has a webpage (https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tax-relief-in-disaster-situations) where it posts information related to the available tax relief for individuals affected by recent disasters. The IRS has a springboard webpage (https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businessesself-employed/disaster-assistance-and-emergency-relief-for-individuals-and-businesses), which provides a comprehensive list of related links, including “FAQs for Disaster Victims,” relevant IRS materials and resources for tax professionals. In recent disasters, the American Bar Association has shared with pro bono tax advocates the disaster tax chapter of its treatise, “Effectively Representing Your Client Before the IRS.”

Taxpayers may contact the IRS Disaster Assistance Hotline at 1-866-562-5227 for general customer service inquiries relating to disaster relief. Calls are only answered on weekdays from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., local time. Callers may need to provide their own interpreter. IRS computer systems automatically identify taxpayers located in federally declared disaster areas by zip code and apply disaster-related freeze codes to those taxpayers’ accounts. Other taxpayers who have been substantially impacted by the disaster but do not have a current address on file with the IRS showing he or she is in a covered zip code (e.g., relief workers, those who reside or have a business outside the covered area, and those who moved to the covered area after their last contact with IRS) must call the Disaster Assistance Hotline to “self-identify” as affected by the disaster in order to benefit from the available tax relief. Taxpayers may contact the Disaster Assistance Hotline to update their current address or submit IRS Form 8822 (Change of Address) to the appropriate address found in that form’s instructions.

Shortly after a disaster declaration, the IRS posts notices and news releases on its website describing tax return filing and payment deadline extensions and other tax relief for affected taxpayers. All applicable IRS notices and news releases should be read carefully to determine which deadlines are extended, for how long, and for which taxpayers. During the disaster relief period, the IRS suspends mailing of notices to taxpayers whose accounts have been flagged with the disaster code; suspends collection (including liens, levies, and seizures) and examination activities; and applies special penalty and interest computations. Additionally, the statutes of limitation are not tolled during the disaster relief period. Therefore, the IRS will seek statute waivers in lieu of a rapid assessment of tax in the case where a statute of limitation expiration is imminent. In past years, Congress has enacted tax relief granting special treatment to retirement plan distributions for taxpayers in enumerated disaster areas, e.g., waiving the 10% early distribution penalty. However, caution should be taken because it is not guaranteed that such relief will be granted by Congress in the future. 

For all federally declared disasters, installment agreement payments that come due during the disaster relief period are automatically suspended, and the taxpayer must resume payments the month after the disaster relief period ends. However, if the taxpayer is enrolled in an automatic direct debit installment agreement, then the taxpayer must contact the IRS at least two weeks in advance of the scheduled draft to have the IRS put a stop on the automatic withdrawal. The taxpayer must do this each month for the duration of the disaster relief period. 

Disaster victims will need quick access to prior year tax returns to file amendments to claim disaster losses in a prior year as allowed under 26 U.S.C. § 165(i), to prove business income for business interruption insurance claims, or for any number of other disaster-related exigencies. The IRS will waive fees when a taxpayer requests copies of previously filed tax returns and will expedite requests for copies of those tax returns and tax return transcripts. Disaster victims must write the assigned disaster designation (e.g., “TEXAS, HURRICANE HARVEY”) in red ink at the top of Form 4506 (Request for Copy of Tax Return) or Form 4506-T (Request for Transcript of Tax Return), as appropriate, to avoid fees and expedite processing. Taxpayers or their authorized representatives (requires Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative) may call the IRS Disaster Assistance Hotline to request a tax return transcript. Account transcripts and wage and income transcripts can be requested free of charge by calling 1-800-908-9946 or online at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript. Account transcripts will show whether a tax return has been filed and wage and income transcripts will provide income information reported to the IRS by third parties, which will assist in preparing missing tax returns. 

Taxpayers claiming disaster losses on amended tax returns in order to access immediate cash refunds should write the disaster designation in red across the top of Form 1040X to ensure the IRS applies expedited processing procedures. The average expedited processing time is sixty days. Taxpayers experiencing economic hardship should apply for a manual refund through the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service. A manual refund can generally be processed within one to two weeks. Apply by faxing a completed IRS Form 911 (Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance) to your local Taxpayer Advocate Office. In such a case, do not file the amended tax return by mail. Instead, attach it to the Form 911 so it can be manually input by the taxpayer advocate assigned to assist with the manual refund request. Visit www.irs.gov/taxpayer-advocate for more information. If a tax return is submitted by mail, the taxpayer should keep a copy for his or her records and mail the tax return via certified mail, return receipt requested. 

Qualified disaster relief payments, as defined in 26 U.S.C. § 139, are not included in the taxable income of disaster victims if the relief is not also compensated by insurance or otherwise and has not been deducted on a prior year tax return. Qualified disaster relief payments include payments to reimburse reasonable and necessary personal, family, living, or funeral expenses incurred as a result of the disaster; reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for the repair or rehabilitation of a personal residence; expenses incurred to repair or replace contents of a personal residence; and payments made for the benefit of the general welfare. 

Many disaster victims have lost some or all of their records in the disaster. In such situations, taxpayers will need to reconstruct business records or collect other documents adequate to prove eligibility for tax deductions and credits, apply for federal disaster assistance, and substantiate insurance reimbursement claims. IRS Publication 2194 (Disaster Losses Kit for Individuals) provides more information on how to reconstruct records after a disaster. Visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/reconstructing-records-after-a-natural-disaster-or-casualty-lossirs-provides-tips-to-help-taxpayers for more information. IRS Publication 547 (Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts) provides more information on permissible casualty and theft losses, and Publication 584 (Casualty, Disaster, and Theft Loss Workbook (Personal-Use Property)) contains useful worksheets to determine the amount of loss associated with a taxpayer’s home, personal property inside the home, and his or her vehicle.

 

7.3 FAQs – Banking/FDIC Issues

Q. 7-1   Who can I contact for information?

The FDIC realizes that customers with limited access to a working telephone or the internet may have greater difficulty obtaining financial information. Customers with access to a working telephone can contact the FDIC toll-free at 1-877-ASK-FDIC or 1-877-275-3342 or TDD 800- 925-4618 for information about accessing their bank accounts, lost records, ATM cards, direct deposits or how to reach their bank. This hotline operates from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time from Monday through Friday and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Customers with access to the internet may visit the FDIC website at www.fdic.gov/consumers/assistance and submit a Consumer Assistance Online Form with questions or complaints electronically. 

 

Q. 7-2   The local banks are not cashing my checks or letting me withdraw money from teller stations. What can I do?

If you do not have an account relationship with the bank, it may be concerned about whether there are sufficient funds in your account. Ask the bank you are dealing with to call your bank to determine your account balance. The FDIC encourages you to work with your bank to provide the necessary information to the bank you are now dealing with so you can conduct banking transactions. However, the FDIC recognizes that you may have no other alternative but to open a new banking account in the area in which you have relocated.

 

Q. 7-3  My direct deposit is not showing up in my account, and I need money. Is there somebody who can help me clear this up with the bank?

There may be delays in the processing of transactions, including direct deposits, as banks activate back up plans. The banks will process the transactions once the plans are implemented. Talk to your bank about the problem. You can also contact the individual or company that originated the deposit to see if they have any information about the status of your deposit.

 

Q. 7-4 If my ATM card does not work, what should I do?

If your ATM card will not work, it is probably because your bank’s verification system is not working. You may consider other options, such as cashing a check in your immediate area or using a credit card. You may also contact one of the emergency service organizations, such as FEMA (www.fema.gov; 1-800-621-3362) or contact a non-local branch office of your bank and request assistance. BankFind is an excellent resource for acquiring contact information for your bank (https://research.fdic.gov/bankfind). 

 

Q. 7-5   ATM fees are piling up. Why aren’t the banks waiving these fees?

Please contact your bank and explain your situation. FDIC regulators strongly encourage banks to waive these fees for those hardest hit by disasters.

 

Q. 7-6   How will I get my Social Security check?

Contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) or go to an open Social Security office for instructions or information regarding SSA assistance programs. To find an open office, call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) for automated services and recorded information. If you cannot handle your business through an automated service, you can speak to a live representative between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Central Standard Time from Monday through Friday. Information from the SSA is available at: http://www.ssa.gov/emergency/.

 
Q. 7-7   I would like to wire money to relative or friend affected by the disaster or from my current financial institution to another one closer to my current location. How do I go about wiring money to or from an institution? 

Here are some steps for wiring money to or from an institution affected by a disaster: 

  • Find a bank’s telephone number, e-mail address, and physical address on the FDIC's BankFind system (https://research.fdic.gov/bankfind).
  • Contact the institution to which you want to send or retrieve money and determine if the bank can accept or send wire transfers.
  • Provide the following information:
    • Either your account number or the account number of the individual who will receive the money (in the middle of the check or deposit slip) and the bank routing number (in the lower left hand corner of your check or deposit slip). If you cannot find a bank's routing number, it is usually listed on the bank's web page. 
    • The address of the bank to which you are wiring money.
  • Request the institution to fax or e-mail you a confirmation so you know the person receives the money, if you are transferring the funds over the internet. 

You should understand the identification verification process at the receiving institution. Some institutions will accept incoming wires for noncustomers but will require proof of your identity before they release the funds. Ensure you have the identification required or explain up front what you have and ask the bank if that is acceptable. Also determine up front the existence of any fees associated with wiring funds.

 

Q. 7-8   How can I protect against fraud or scams?

Protect your personal and financial information. Understand that some people may take advantage of natural disasters by using fraudulent websites, phone calls, e-mails, and text messages claiming to offer “help” but may be trying to trick people into providing Social Security numbers, bank account numbers and other valuable details. Do not divulge your bank or credit card numbers or other personal information over the phone unless you initiated the conversation with the other party and you know that it’s reputable. Be on guard against imposters who contact you claiming to be government employees or volunteers and who ask for personal financial information or money. Reject offers to cash a check for someone in exchange for a fee, even if the bank makes the funds available to you right away, as it may later turn out that the check was fraudulent. 

Be careful before accepting unsolicited offers of repairs or other assistance. Deal only with insured home-repair contractors and get recommendations from people you know and trust. To check out a local business, including complaints against it, start by contacting the Texas attorney general’s office (https://texasattorneygeneral.gov, (512) 463-2100) or your state or local consumer affairs office. In addition, get prices and other key details in writing and take your time to read and understand anything you are asked to sign. 

 

Q. 7-9   I can’t reach my bank by phone or Internet; what should I do?

If your bank is located in the heavily storm-damaged area, and is not a part of a major regional or national institution, it may not be open for some time. You can use the FDIC’s BankFind system at https://research.fdic.gov/bankfind to obtain a bank’s contact information. You should contact one of the emergency service organizations, such as FEMA (www.fema.gov; 1-800-621-3362) or the Red Cross (www.redcross.org; 1-800-733-2767) and request assistance.

 

Q. 7-10  I am worried about identity theft.

If you feel ID theft is a real concern or have reason to believe you are the victim of identity theft, you may place a “fraud alert” on your credit file by contacting the fraud department at one of the three major credit bureaus noted below. 

Be aware that putting an alert on your account may prevent you from opening an account, unless they are able to get in touch with you and positively confirm your identity, and that you are applying for credit. 

  • Equifax: 1-800-685-5000; www.equifax.com; P.O. Box 740241, Atlanta, GA 30374- 0241
  • Experian: 1-888-EXPERIAN or 1-888-397-3742; www.experian.com; P.O. Box 9554, Allen, TX 75013
  • TransUnion: 1-800--916-8800; www.transunion.com; Fraud Victim Assistance Department, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016

In addition, people who think their personal information has been misused should contact the local police. They also can contact and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by phone at 877-IDTHEFT or 1-877-438-4338 or TDD 1-866-653-4261, or on the Internet at https://www.identitytheft.gov/

 

Q. 7-11   If my local bank was destroyed, is my money still insured?

Yes, your money is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). Deposits with a FDIC insured bank or savings institution will continue to be protected up to $250,000. However, you should keep any financial records that you have in order to help reconstruct your accounts. 

 

Q. 7-12   Will there be enough cash?

Be assured the Federal Reserve System has and will continue to meet the currency needs of the financial institution industry. The banking industry nationwide has more than sufficient resources to fill any shortfall.

 

Q. 7-13   What about the contents of my safe deposit box? Does FDIC insurance cover safe deposit boxes?

No, deposit insurance does not cover items contained in safe deposit contents. Safe deposit boxes are not immune from theft, fire, flood and other loss. Most safe deposit boxes are held in the bank’s vault, which are fireproof and waterproof. If possible, contact the branch or office where your box was located to determine the condition of your box.

 

Q. 7-14   Is my bank safe? Do you believe the affected banks will survive?

We are not aware of any bank that has closed due to the impact of a natural disaster. Consumers can also rely on the guarantees provided by the FDIC, which oversees the insurance funds that back deposits in banks and thrifts, and the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, which protects credit union depositors. These depositors can rest assured that deposit insurance is in full force.

 

Q. 7-15   Merchants will not accept my checks because my bank is not operational and they cannot verify my account balance. What should I do?

If a merchant cannot verify that you have an available balance, it is unlikely that they will accept your check. Until your bank is operational again, we can only suggest that you contact one of the emergency service organizations, such as FEMA (www.fema.gov; 1-800-621-3362) or the Red Cross (www.redcross.org; 1-800-733-2767).

 

Q. 7-16   I am no longer working due to the disaster and don’t have the income to live on and meet my payments. If I miss some mortgage/loan payments, how will this affect my credit? Will I be charged late fees? What can I expect? 

The lender can file for foreclosure on your home. If this happens, you will receive a written foreclosure notice. Nonpayment may also be reported to credit agencies that will seriously affect your ability to rebuild your life. If the insurance settlement is less than what you owe on your mortgage, you are still responsible for paying the difference. 

There is no law that requires a mortgage lender to offer you special consideration for late or missed payments, even if you are experiencing financial hardship following a disaster. Lenders make accommodations on a case-by-case basis. If you can’t make your payment, contact your lender or loan servicer as soon as possible to discuss your situation and see if you can make a temporary deal on your payments until your financial situation improves. 

  • Tell the lender or loan servicer that you’ve been affected by a disaster. Let them know if your county has been declared a state and/or federal disaster area.
  • Ask for “forbearance.” By granting forbearance, the loan servicer can defer mortgage payments, waive late fees, and not report you to the credit bureaus. You have no legal right to forbearance; you must ask for it. It is not automatic, and the lender does not have to approve it.
  • Ask that any late fees be reversed.
  • Be sure you understand what the forbearance will include.
    • Ask the lender or loan servicer:
      • How many months’ payments will you postpone?
      • Will the lender or loan servicer impose any fees for the payment deferral?
      • When will the deferred payments be due?
      • Will the missed payments be repaid over a long time, rather than all at once?
      • Will the lender stop any negative credit reporting for the deferred payments?
  •  Get all lender promises to you in writing.

 

Q. 7-17   Do I have to pay the mortgage while my insurance claim is pending?

Yes. You are responsible for paying your mortgage while your insurance claim is pending unless you’ve received forbearance (see above). Your homeowner’s policy may provide living expenses while your home is unlivable and under repair. If your claim was approved and repairs are underway, you must pay your mortgage as usual. 

*IMPORTANT: You are not required to accept the first estimate or offer of payment from your insurance company. Do not rush the process. It is important to make sure that you will be paid enough to adequately cover your losses. Ask your insurer to reconsider the offer. Include written estimates to show the real cost of repairs and negotiate the best deal. You can also hire an independent insurance adjust who is not employed by your insurance company, but keep in mind that these adjusters get paid based on a percentage of your recovery. 

In the meantime:

  • Don’t rush to sell your property because you are financially desperate. Financial help may be available from sources that you don’t know about yet. 
  • Don’t fall for scam artists who promise to save your property from foreclosure for a fee or if you “temporarily” sign your property over to them.
  • Don’t borrow money—especially from contractors—to rush into home repairs. Work with your insurance company to get an accurate estimate and payout for your claim.
  • Don’t rush into declaring bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can damage your credit for years to come. Get credit help from your local nonprofit consumer credit counseling service.

 

Q. 7-18   What if my home is destroyed and I have no insurance?

You may be able to deduct some of your loss on your federal income tax return. Only major losses normally result in tax savings. Check on the IRS web page at www.irs.gov or call your local IRS office.

 

Q. 7-19   I need longer term financing until insurance checks come in and I can find another job, will banks help?

Federal Disaster Loans: Following a disaster declared by the president, FEMA partners with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to help disaster survivors. The SBA offers lowinterest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, and businesses of all sizes. These are federal longterm disaster recovery loans designed to help you repair physical damage caused by a disaster that is not fully covered by private insurance or other disaster funds. 

What is covered? The SBA’s programs do not duplicate FEMA or other disaster recovery programs. An SBA loan application may trigger other grant assistance through FEMA’s Other Needs Assistance (ONA) program, which is administered by the state of Texas. If you don’t apply to the SBA, you may lose out on additional help such as: 

  • reimbursement for lost personal property,
  • vehicle repair or replacement, and
  • moving and storage expenses.

Who is eligible? Eligibility includes:

  • businesses of all sizes
  • landlords
  • individual homeowners and renters
  • private nonprofit organizations
  • small agricultural cooperatives

Can I get a loan to pay my business operating expenses? Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EDIL loans) are available from the SBA for businesses that have “substantial economic injury,” meaning the business is unable to meet its obligations and to pay its ordinary and necessary operating expenses. EIDLs provide working capital to help small businesses survive until normal operations resume after a disaster. A business may qualify for both an EIDL and a physical disaster loan.

How do I apply?  Register by phone through FEMA (800-621-FEMA) (TTY 800-462-7585) or online through www.DisasterAssistance.gov. If you are eligible for an SBA loan, the SBA will contact you by an automated callback to complete the SBA application. You can also apply at your local disaster relief center.

How much can I borrow?

  • Eligible homeowners—up to $200,000 for home repair or replacement of primary residences.
  • Eligible homeowners and renters—up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property.
  • All businesses regardless of size—up to $2 million to cover physical damages.
  • Small businesses and most private nonprofits—up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury under SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. SBA loans offer terms up to thirty years. Interest rates are as low as— 
    • 1.688 percent for homeowners and renters,
    • 4 percent for businesses, and
    • 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations.

Application Deadlines: Deadlines vary depending on the type of loan. Apply immediately. Do not wait to hear back on claims submitted to your insurance company.

For more information: Contact the SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800- 659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339) or e-mail disastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Visit the SBA website at www.sba.gov/disaster

 

Q. 7-20 What happens if my bank has lost my records?

Banks are required to have contingency plans for all types of disruptions to operations, including natural disasters. Banks have backup systems of records and other built-in duplications that are housed in safe locations so that financial records can be reconstructed and restored.

 

Q. 7-21 How can consumers deposit or cash any insurance checks they may receive?

By the time emergency relief and insurance payments are received, the affected institutions should be prepared to process these payments for their customers. Should a customer’s primary financial institution not be ready to receive these payments it is anticipated arrangements will be made with neighboring institutions to handle these special consumer needs. 

 

Q. 7-22 Who can I contact for more information?

The FDIC has a consumer hotline. Please call 1-877-ASK-FDIC (275-3342). You may also visit the FDIC’s website at www.fdic.gov. The hotline is operating from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. central time, seven days a week.

Source: This question and answer section utilizes information provided by the FDIC at https://www.fdic.gov/news/news/financial/2017/fil17038a.pdf.