Thursday, May 12, 2011
FEMA Wants It's Money Back
The Federal Emergency Management Agency began sending out letters to thousands of people who received disaster aid asking for its money back. Documents obtained by The Associated Press show that FEMA is seeking payments from more than 5,500 people who were affected by 129 separate disasters since 2005. I know what you’re thinking, but this is about way more than just Katrina victims, although older reports did insinuate that while many people in New Orleans did use the money responsibly, there were a few knuckle heads that misused federal money to purchase sports tickets, luxury cars, plasma screen TVs and my all-time favorite, breast implants. The reality, however, is that the 129 disasters include floods, tornados, hurricanes and other calamities from Arkansas to American Samoa.
So, who’s at fault in this case? It actually had nothing to do with the victims. FEMA says it mistakenly doled out the $22 million, but is still obligated by law to get taxpayers their money back. The massive error was the result of employees who misunderstood eligibility rules, approved duplicate assistance for costs that were already covered by insurance or other sources, or made accounting errors. Hmmm? I wonder if they’ve gone after their own employees to recover any costs? I mean, they were the ones that misinterpreted the rule books, right?
Nevertheless, people who are asked to make repayments have several options beyond just paying in full within 30 days. They may appeal the matter, apply for a hardship waiver that would forgive the debt or establish a payment plan. The FEMA aid packages ranged from a few hundred dollars to as much as $27,000. The agency is still reviewing records, and more repayment requests are expected to go out soon.
So, tell me: If you were in these shoes, what would you do? If a natural disaster came your way, knowing that “take-backsies” are possible with federal government aid, would you still accept the help?
Until Next Time,
Seek Wisdom, Find Wealth & Be Blessed!