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

IHPONA 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:

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.

IHPONA, 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 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:

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.

IHPONA, 2000, Definitions and Acronyms

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

 

2100 Definitions

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

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:

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 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.

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

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 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

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

FCO — Federal Coordinating Officer

FEMA — Federal Emergency Management Agency

FMS — Fiscal Management Services

GCO — Grant Coordinating Officer

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

IHPONA, 3000 Disaster Assistance Organizations

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

 

3100 State Agencies

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

3110 Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Overview

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

HHSC is assigned the following responsibilities under 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:

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.

Grant Coordinating Officer (GCO) — In this handbook, the grant coordinating officer (GCO) is assigned management responsibility for the ONA provision of the IHP. Federal regulations define the GCO 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:

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:

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:

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.

IHPONA, 4000 HHSC Disaster Roles and Responsibilities

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

 

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 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

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 grant coordinating officer (GCO) is assigned management responsibility for the ONA. Federal regulations define the GCO 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:

 

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:

 

4320 System Support Services

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

Business Services Department

The Business Services Department is responsible for the following functions:

Human Resource Department

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

 

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:

 

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:

IHPONA, 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

 

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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:

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:

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:

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.

IHPONA, 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:

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

 

 

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 use the following steps to check their registration:

Step 1

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:

 

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:

 

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.

IHPONA, 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:

 

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:

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:

 

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:

 

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.

IHPONA, 8000 National Eligibility Criteria

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

 

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 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

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:

If applying for personal property or transportation assistance, the victim must:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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 11-1; Effective June 27, 2011

 

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 $7,000 per serious need vehicle. The maximum replacement value cannot exceed $7,000.

 

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 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

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 $6,500.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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:

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.

IHPONA, 9000 Processing Applications

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

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:

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 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The ONA staff is responsible for verifying:

 

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.

IHPONA, 10000 Grant Categories

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

 

10100 General Criteria

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

 

10110 Serious Need and Necessary Expense

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

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. 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 vacuum cleaners and one was damaged and one not, ONA would not pay for the damaged unit. Although a vacuum cleaner may be an essential appliance, the applicant has access to the second undamaged one and therefore, the replacement of the damaged vacuum 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 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

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:

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 -
6. Moving and Storage
  1. Insurance
  2. SBA – Personal property loan
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:

 

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 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Applicants must first apply for an SBA loan to be considered for ONA grant awards. SBA-approved partial loans will reduce ONA grants awarded to avoid duplication of benefits. FEMA will accept all SBA referrals. Applicants who are declined by SBA but not referred to ONA will not be considered for grant awards.

The categories for which SBA provides assistance, which could be duplicated by ONA, are: personal property, transportation needs resulting from damage to a vehicle, and moving and storage. These categories are known as "SBA dependant" and will not be reviewed by FEMA until SBA has referred them to FEMA.

The categories for which SBA does not provide assistance and are not duplicated by ONA are medical, dental, funeral and miscellaneous expenses. These categories are known as "non SBA dependent" and will be reviewed by FEMA for referral to ONA as soon as possible.

The income test: For SBA dependent categories, whether the applicant is immediately referred to SBA or Other Needs assistance depends on his or her ability to repay a low-interest loan. 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 Other Needs assistance 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 Other Needs assistance.

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

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 Other Needs assistance 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 Other Needs assistance 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 Other Needs 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.

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

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:

 

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:

 

10210.8 ONA Specific Guidelines

Revision 07-1; Effective May 1, 2007

 

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.

There may be daily, weekly or even monthly recurring costs. ONA will provide assistance for 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 provide assistance for 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 Disaster Housing has previously made an award under Housing.

Example

The inspector records a single electric fan in an occupied bedroom. The line item cost for the fan is $25. The applicant will receive a check for $25 because they received rental assistance from FEMA, which made the amount over $50.

 

10210.9 Medical and Dental Guidelines

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

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.

Specific 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 care insurance.

Verification

The following is required to verify the necessary expense or serious need:

Specific Conditions for Denial

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

 

10210.10 Funeral Guidelines

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Eligible Expenses

Funeral assistance is financial aid provided to an individual or household that experiences unexpected, uninsured 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 $6,500. The types of disaster-related funeral expenses for which assistance may be provided per death are:

Policy

To be eligible for funeral assistance, an applicant must provide:

  1. Death certificate for the decedent, if available;
  2. Documentation from an authoritative state or local entity, such as the attending physician, medical examiner's office or the coroner's office, attributing the decedent's death or the underlying injury causing the death to the declared emergency or major disaster event; must be directly related to the disaster.
  3. Proof that the applicant is the official "next of kin";
  4. Confirmation that the full amount of funeral expenses have not been paid for by other resources, such as assistance from voluntary agencies or local, state or other government agencies, to avoid duplication of benefit; and
  5. Evidence of an unmet funeral expense.

Eligibility will be based on the cost of a basic funeral/service or direct cremation, as defined by the Federal Trade Commission at 16 CFR 453.2(b)(4)(ii) and 16 CFR 453.2 (4) (4) (iv). The cost of a headstone or urn is not included in this expense.

Examples

Considerations Related to Funerals

The following considerations apply to funerals:

Specific Conditions of Eligibility

Submit a claim for insurance, if applicable, for burial insurance and provide the state with information regarding benefits received and/or expected.

Verification

 

10210.11 Personal Property Guidelines

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Eligible Expenses

Assistance for clothing will be provided to the applicant and his/her household dependents based on need. Need is determined by the number of people with damaged clothing noted by the inspector. Clothing will not be awarded unless the clothing is destroyed, physically gone (for example, blown away) or contaminated by chemicals, sewer backup, etc. It is expected that clothing that is soaked by wind-driven rain, seepage or flood waters will be cleaned by applicant. Clothing assistance will only be awarded at the replacement line item pricing. Clothing will not be paid per actual incurred expenses or with regard to the season.

Examples

PP Line Items (Appliances): Refrigerators, ranges, stroller, twin bed, etc., are eligible under this category.

The inspector will record age-related damaged line items using the following criteria for each dependent of the household:

Considerations Related to Personal Property

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

Examples

In the event the inspector indicates two damaged line items and there is only a need for one item, the lesser of the two will be paid.

Specific Conditions for Eligibility

Verification

Specific Reasons for Denial

 

10210.12 Transportation Guidelines

Revision 11-1; Effective June 27, 2011

Eligible Expenses

Following are types of disaster-related transportation expenses, not to exceed $7,000 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 $7,000, 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:

Note: When an inspector determines the vehicle is destroyed the state will pay a single lump sum of $7,000 (adjusted annually, based on the CPI), as provided in the State Administrative Plan.

Specific Conditions for Eligibility

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 was in need of repair. These examples assume the State of Texas Administrative Plan replacement price for serious need vehicles is $7,000.

Examples Related to Vehicle Public Transportation: Public transportation expenses or the increase in transportation expenses.

Note: Public transportation is not SBA dependent.

Examples Related to Rental Car Expense: Rental cars will be eligible when an applicant has a temporary need for public transportation assistance, but no public transportation is available.

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 (that is, work, school, regularly scheduled long-term medical appointments, etc.)

Examples

Verification

Specific Reasons for Denial

 

10210.13 Moving and Storage Guidelines

Revision 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

Eligible Expenses

ONA may provide assistance for disaster-related moving and storage of personal property to avoid additional personal property damages. Applicants must have personal property damages to be eligible for moving and storage. The only exception is if the applicant's property has been determined to be unsafe by local officials due to the disaster and residents are forced to relocate by the local officials. The maximum allowance for moving and storage is $4,000.

Specific Conditions for Eligibility

Verification

Specific Reasons for Denial

 

10210.14 Child Care Guidelines

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

Eligible Expenses

The state 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 maximum amount of assistance is 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

Verification

Specific Reasons for Denial

 

10210.15 Miscellaneous Expenses Guidelines

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

Eligible Expenses

The types of disaster-related miscellaneous expenses (tangible items) purchased by the applicant at the time of the disaster for which assistance may be awarded are:

Note: Additional items may be determined eligible under this category and will be reviewed at the time of a disaster on a case-by-case basis.

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.

The applicant's dwelling is located in a declared area designated for IA.

The generator is purchased or rented to power a medically required appliance.

The applicant provides proof-of-purchase or rental receipts for the generator.

The applicant provides proof that the appliance is required for medical purposes (for example, letter from physician that the applicant/occupant has a medical need for the appliance). Generators purchased or rented for the sole purpose of keeping medications cool are not eligible for ONA award assistance.

If the preceding criteria are verified, the cost of the generator will be reimbursed at the prevailing retail or rental rate identified by FEMA for a 5.5 kw-size generator.

Reimbursement of rental cost is limited to the period that the generator was rented until commercial power was restored to the dwelling.

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

The grant coordinating officer (GCO) may request FEMA to waive one or more eligibility criteria during extraordinary circumstances (for example, sustained power outage during a period of subfreezing temperatures or extreme heat), when determined to be in the public interest.

Consideration for Miscellaneous Expenses

The item may be purchased, rented or leased.

Verification

Specific Reasons for Denial

Expenses incurred for generators purchased or rented outside the established time frame are not eligible for reimbursement. Generators that are not needed for medical necessity are not eligible. Generators purchased or rented for the sole purpose of keeping medications cool are not eligible.

 

10210.16 Critical Needs Assistance (CNA)

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

The request for CNA must be made in writing by the state with concurrence from the regional administrator or federal coordinating officer to the assistant administrator for disaster assistance. The request for CNA implementation must be received at the time of setup for a disaster declaration of individual assistance. This assistance is to be used for the purpose of meeting critical out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the disaster.

Eligible Expenses

A fixed $500 award will be provided automatically for applicants to use for their immediate disaster-related needs (diapers, formula, food, etc.). One eligible payment per household (separated household policy does not apply to ONA categories) will be allowed under the Miscellaneous/Other category of ONA assistance, which is not SBA or insurance dependent.

Specific Conditions for Eligibility

 

10210.17 Group Flood Insurance Policy

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

Eligible Expenses

The state 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

Specific Reasons for Denial

Considerations for Group Insurance Premiums

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:

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

IHPONA, 11000 Case Decision, Review and Closing

Revision 11-1; Effective June 27, 2011

 

Introduction

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 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

The GCO 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:

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.

 

11400 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 08-1; Effective April 23, 2008

 

Upon receipt of the reconsideration request, the GCO or designee will review the case file to determine if needs have been met. The GCO 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:

Before the hearing, ONA staff will:

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

Upon receipt of the hearing decision, ONA staff:

 

11700 Sampling Grant Decisions

Revision 05-1; Effective October 1, 2004

 

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

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:

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:

 

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 statedoes 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 09-1; Effective July 20, 2009

 

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 grant coordinating officer (GCO) 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 GCO'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 GCO, 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 11-1; Effective June 27, 2011

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 GCO 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.

IHPONA, 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 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:

 

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:

 

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:

 

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:

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

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

IHPONA, 13000 Policy Alerts

Revision 06-1; Effective October 1, 2005

 

13100 Purpose

Revision 03-1; Effective Upon Receipt

 

Occasionally, we will need to:

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
- - - -

IHPONA Forms

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

Informacion in espanol = form also available in Spanish.

Revisions, IHPONA

Revision 14-1, IHPONA, Child Care Updates, Miscellaneous Corrections

Revision 14-1; Effective January 31, 2014

 

The following changes were made:

 

Section Title Change
1100 Program Description Adds child care under other expenses in Other Needs Assistance (ONA) column of chart. Corrects grammar and style.
3110 Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Overview Adds child care to list of eligible expense categories. Corrects grammar and style.
8470 Child Care Adds section that explains policy related to child care assistance. Renumbers subsequent sections.
10130 Duplication of Benefits Adds child care to duplication of benefits chart. Corrects grammar and style.
10210.14 Child Care Guidelines Adds section that explains eligibility requirements for child care assistance. Renumbers subsequent sections.
10210.15 Miscellaneous Expenses Guidelines Corrects grammar and style and moves the information previously in 10210.14.
10210.16 Critical Needs Assistance (CNA) Corrects grammar and style and moves the information previously in 10210.15.
10210.17 Group Flood Insurance Policy Corrects grammar and style and moves the information previously in 10210.16.
10210.18 Unspecified Types of Assistance and Items Corrects grammar and style and moves the information previously in 10210.17.
10210.19 Notification Corrects grammar and style and moves the information previously in 10210.18.

Revision 12-1, IHPONA, Miscellaneous Changes

Revision 12-1; Effective April 24, 2012

 

The following changes were made:

Revised Title Change
1200 Administration Updates Office of Social Services (OSS) to Business and Regional Services (BRS).
2100 Definitions Deletes GDEM reference.
2200 Acronyms Updates formatting.
3110 Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Overview Updates OSS to BRS.
3120 Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) Corrects grammar, State Operations Center (SOC) staffing procedures.
3130 Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Corrects grammar.
3140 Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Corrects grammar.
3150 Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Corrects grammar.
4100 Overview of HHSC Disaster Roles and Responsibilities Updates OSS to BRS.
4200 Emergency Services Program (ESP) Updates OSS to BRS.
4310 Disaster Assistance Task Force Updates OSS to BRS.
4320 System Support Services Deletes repeated paragraph.
6210 Application-Taking by Hotline Deletes San Juan, Puerto Rico.
8330 Flood Insurance Purchase and Maintenance Requirements Updates Federal Emergency Management Agency flood insurance premium procedure.

Revision 11-1, IHPONA, Vehicle Allowance Update, New Section

Revision Notice 11-1; Effective June 27, 2011

 

The following changes were made:

Revised Title Change

8420

Transportation

Increases vehicle allowance to $7,000.

10210.12

Transportation Guidelines

Increases vehicle allowance to $7,000.

Adds

Title

Change

10210.15

Critical Needs Assistance (CNA)

Explains policies related to a request for CNA. Renumbers subsequent section numbers.

Revised

Title

Change

11940

Recovery Procedures – Other Than Fraud

Updates limits for recovering overpayments.

Revision 10-1, IHPONA, Handling of Original Documents

Revision 10-1; Effective May 10, 2010

 

 

The following changes were made:

Revised Title Change
10210.5 Verification Adds procedures for the handling of original documents to complete the case.
10210.12 Transportation Guidelines Adds, per Texas Department of Motor Vehicles guidelines, that vehicles must be registered in the new owner’s name within 30 days of purchase.

IHPONA Contact Us

For questions about the Federal Assistance to Individuals and Households Program or its Other Needs Assistance provision, please email: disasterassistance@hhsc.state.tx.us

For technical or accessibility issues with this handbook, email: handbookfeedback@hhsc.state.tx.us