Disaster Recovery

Need assistance with:

Unemployment Aid
Can I get unemployment aid if I cannot work because of the storm?

Maybe. There are 2 kinds of unemployment aid:
regular unemployment and disaster unemployment.


Regular Unemployment

You may qualify for regular unemployment if:

  • you don’t have a job, and
  • you are able to work.

You may not qualify if:

  • you quit your job without a good reason,
  • you were fired for repeated bad behavior after being warned,
  • you were fired because you failed a drug test or did something dishonest, or
  • you turned down a job without a good reason.

If you are disqualified, you will no longer get unemployment and may not qualify in the future.

How do I apply for regular unemployment?

Go to your local Employment Services Office. Tell them you want to apply for unemployment. You will have to register for work and wait one week.


Disaster Unemployment

You may qualify for disaster unemployment if, because of the disaster:

  • you lost a job,
  • you were injured and cannot work now,
  • the job you were about to start no longer exists,
  • you can’t get to your workplace, or
  • you are now the main earner in your family because the previous main earner died.

You may not qualify if you are eligible for regular unemployment assistance.

How do I apply for disaster unemployment?

If you were self-employed before the disaster, you will need a copy of your most recent income tax records.


How long can I get unemployment?

You can usually get regular unemployment aid for up to 26 weeks.

You can get disaster unemployment for up to 26 weeks.

Where can I learn more?

To learn more about disaster unemployment:

FEMA Unemployment Assistance Graphic

Photo by FEMA Graphic – Oct 27, 2017

To learn more about regular unemployment:

Nutrition Assistance
If you are already receiving SNAP:

You may qualify for replacement SNAP benefits if a disaster, like a fire, flood or power outage, destroyed your food or made it unsafe to eat.

  • Report the loss within 10 days to your local SNAP office.
  • You will get 10 more days to return a signed and completed form describing the loss.
  • If you qualify, you can receive up to 1 month of replacement SNAP benefits.
  • Your replacement SNAP benefits should get to your EBT account within 10 days of when you reported the loss or within 2 days of when you returned the form (whichever was later).

If you are not already receiving SNAP:

You may qualify for Disaster SNAP (D-SNAP) benefits if where you live was declared a disaster area by the President.

  • D-SNAP provides short-term food aid benefits to people who might not ordinarily qualify for SNAP.
  • To qualify, you must live in an area that was declared a federal disaster area, have had some disaster-related loss or expense (damage to property or relocation expenses), and meet certain income limits.
  • Call your local SNAP office to find out where to apply.
  • If you qualify, you can receive up to 1 month of D-SNAP benefits.
  • They will send you an “EBT” card that you can use just like a debit card. You will get it within 72 hours after you apply.

If you apply for replacement SNAP or D-SNAP and are denied, you may appeal (in writing) to the office where you applied.


What is the difference between “expedited” SNAP benefits and “emergency” SNAP benefits?

“Expedited” SNAP benefits are regular SNAP benefits that families who are eligible based on their income receive more quickly than usual (within one week of applying).

Disaster or “emergency” SNAP benefits are short-term disaster benefits for people in certain areas who are not eligible under normal rules, but who now need food aid because they have lost income or other financial resources because of the disaster.


What can I do if I lost my EBT card in the disaster?

Call the EBT Customer Service number in your state and ask for another card.

Hawaii: 888-328-4292

If you had to move because of the disaster, you must give them your new address.


Where can I learn more?

To learn more about food aid for disaster relief:

Identification
I lost my driver’s license and other photo ID. How can I prove who I am?

Many agencies will accept your word when you apply for disaster relief. Others will help you get the proof you need. You should also get a replacement driver’s license or ID.

How do I get a replacement driver’s license or ID card?

To get a replacement driver’s license or identification (ID) card, fill out an application. You can go to any DMV office or apply online at your county’s department of motor vehicles website.

Do I have to pay for a replacement license or ID?

You might. Check to see if your state has a fee.

Where can I get more information about proving my identity?

Contact the office that issues driver’s licenses in your county:


Social Security

How do I find a Social Security office near me?

Visit the Social Security Administration website or call the Social Security hotline: 1-800-772-1213

What if I lost my Social Security card?

Go to a Social Security office, or complete Form SS-5 “Application for a Social Security Card” online (opens PDF).

Social Security will ask for proof of your identity. If you were born outside the U.S., you must show proof of your U.S. citizenship or current lawful immigration  status. You can show them your:

  • U.S. driver’s license,
  • U.S. state-issued ID card, or
  • US. passport

What if I don’t have any of those documents?

If you can’t get a replacement ID within 10 work days, Social Security may accept other documents that show your legal name and personal information, such as your:

  • Military ID Card,
  • Certificate of Naturalization,
  • Employee ID card,
  • Certified copy of a medical record (clinic, doctor, or hospital),
  • Health insurance card,
  • Medicaid card, or
  • School ID or school

How do I prove my young child’s identity?

Social Security may accept:

  • Medical records from a medical provider,
  • Final adoption order, or
  • School ID or school

What if I’m not a U.S. citizen?

You must show Social Security your current U.S. immigration document(s) and your foreign passport with personal information and photo.


Hawaii Document Replacement

View this PDF handout (compiled as a resource by the Hawaii State Bar Association, the Hawaii County Bar Association, the HSBA Young Lawyers Division, and the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii with support from the Hawaii Community Foundation) for Hawaii-specific information regarding document replacement after a disaster.

Insurance
My home was damaged in a disaster. How do I get money from my insurance company?

  • First, figure out which policies you have and what they cover. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover earthquake or flood damage.
  • If you think your insurance policy may cover any of your damage – even if you’re not sure – call your agent, broker, or insurance company as soon as possible and report your loss.
  • Write down the name of the person you speak to and the claim number they give you.
  • Ask the insurance company to send an adjuster to look at your property as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to put your request in writing.

What can I do to prepare for the insurance adjuster?

  • Take photos and/or video of your damaged property.
  • Make a list of any property that was damaged or
    destroyed. Describe each item, the date of purchase or approximate age, the cost at the time of purchase, and what you estimate it will cost to replace the item.
  • Try to find the original bills, canceled checks, or receipts for lost items.
  • Keep receipts for all expenses to protect or repair your property, including temporary housing if you need to relocate.
  • Get an estimate of the damage and compare it to the insurance company’s estimate.

Do I need to submit any documents?

  • You may need to submit a signed and sworn “proof of loss” form that provides information on the loss and the value of the property that was damaged and destroyed.
  • Usually this form is due within 60 days after the loss, but sometimes this deadline is extended.
  • Make sure to include supporting documentation with your proof of loss form, such as estimates, inventories, receipts, etc.
  • If your insurance company fills out the form for you, make sure you check that everything is accurate and you agree with it.
  • If you have already submitted a proof of loss form, but believe you are owed more money, you should file a supplemental claim.

What if I have to move out of my house?

  • Some insurance policies will reimburse you for temporary housing relocation costs while your home is being repaired or rebuilt. Check your policy or call your insurance company.
  • Make sure you let the insurance company know if you have a new address or phone number so they can reach you.

What if my insurance claim is denied?

  • Be aware that the deadline to file a lawsuit against your insurance company is often one year from the date of the first written denial of any part of your claim. Check your policy to be sure.
  • Speak to a lawyer to learn more about your options.

Further Resources

Contractors
My house was damaged and I need a contractor. How do I find a good one?

  • Ask friends, family, or neighbors for recommendations. Or look online for reviews.
  • Get written estimates from at least 3 contractors. Make sure the estimate is free.
  • Ask the contractor for a list of recent customers.
  • Call and ask if they were happy with the work.
  • Call your Better Business Bureau to see if anyone has complained about the contractor.
  • Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured.

What should be in my contract?

Your written agreement should include:

  • Complete names and addresses for both you and
    the contractor
  • The contractor’s registration or license number
  • The date the work will begin, and the date work will be completed
  • Everything you agreed to when you talked about
    the project, including:

    • a complete description of the work the
      contractor agreed to do,
    • the total cost of the work, and
    • when you will make payments.
      Note: Except for the first payment, payments should be based on the contractor’s completing parts of the job. For example: Pay $1000 after all windows are correctly installed.
  • Your signature and the contractor’s signature

Before you sign the contract, ask a lawyer to read it.

What if I change my mind about the contractor?
If you change your mind, you have the right to cancel the contract – even if you signed it. But you must do it in writing within 3 days.

How should I pay the contractor?

  • Never pay with cash. Pay by check, money order, or credit card. Keep a record of your payments.
  • Never pay the final amount unless the work is complete and you are happy with it.
  • Never pay for the whole job before the work starts. Your first payment should not be more than 30% of the total cost of the work.

What if I have a problem with the contractor?

  • Send the contractor a clear letter or e-mail that explains the problem. (Keep a copy for yourself.)
  • Ask the contractor to fix the problem(s).
  • If he agrees to fix the problem, put your agreement in writing. Include your signature and the contractor’s signature.

What if talking to the contractor doesn’t work?

  • See if your contract says how disagreements will be handled. Look for the words dispute, arbitration, and mediation.
  • Talk to a lawyer. You may be able to sue or use other legal options.
  • Call the Office of Consumer Protection or your local Better Business Bureau to report the problem.
  • Complain to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). If the FTC thinks a business has broken the law, it will investigate the business.
    • Call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357)
      TDD: 1-866-653-4261
    • Or fill out a complaint form online

Further Resources

*Information provided by Transcend and Jessica Limbacher, Esq. of Volunteer Lawyers for Justice NJ