GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico – Disaster survivors in Puerto Rico who suffered damage or loss from Hurricane María and were referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration can benefit from other income-based FEMA grants if they complete and submit SBA’s loan application.
Among the available options to help survivors, FEMA offers grants under its Other Needs Assistance program which cover uninsured losses for furniture, appliances and other essential personal property and even vehicles. Some survivors may not be considered for these grants unless they complete and return the SBA loan application.
SBA will consider all income and expenses to determine an applicant’s eligibility. If SBA determines an applicant does not qualify for a loan, the applicant may be redirected to FEMA to be considered for other assistance. An applicant who does not accept the loan after approval might not be redirected to FEMA.
SBA is the federal government’s primary source of funds for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to businesses, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters.
Survivors are encouraged to submit an SBA loan application even if they are waiting for an insurance settlement. A survivor’s insurance policy may not cover all the replacement, repair and rebuilding costs. A disaster loan is available to cover the difference.
If an applicant receives an insurance settlement or any other federal grants for repairs to the damaged property, SBA will reduce the amount of the applicant’s loan by the amount received from those other sources.
FEMA grants do not have to be repaid. FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.
When applying for an SBA loan it is important that applicants provide all required information including income documentation. That includes salary, compensation for professional services, Social Security benefits, alimony, child support and pensions.
The filing deadline for homeowners, renters and businesses to return SBA loan applications for physical property damage is March 20. The deadline for businesses to return economic injury applications is June 20.
The deadline for applying for FEMA disaster assistance is March 20. Survivors can register with FEMA the following ways:
- Online at DisasterAssistance.gov
- Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 (press 2 for Spanish). Lines are open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
- Survivors can also register at a disaster recovery center. To find the nearest center, visit fema.gov/drclocator.
For more information about SBA loans, call SBA’s disaster assistance customer service center at 800-659-2955, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit sba.gov/disaster. TTY users can call 800-877-8339. Applicants may also apply online using the electronic loan application via SBA’s secure website at disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.