Determining Eligibility: Methods for Presenting Disaster-Related Costs to FEMA to Obtain Eligibility


...repairs to support that function. An example of this would be an old county garage being used to store maintenance equipment: FEMA would repair/replace only the cost of the same square footage being used for storage purposes.

Eligible Costs

Once eligible work is established, the next hurdle is to verify that the costs incurred are eligible for reimbursement.

Not all costs incurred by an eligible Subrecipient are eligible for Public Assistance funding. Eligible costs are costs that are:

The eligible cost criteria apply to all direct costs, including salaries, wages, fringe benefits, materials, equipment, and contracts awarded for eligible work.

Prior to FEMA’s arrival, Subrecipients are often forced to make decisions on the spot. Unfortunately, some of these decisions allow for subsequent second- guessing on issues such as procurement, reasonable costs, and actual performance. As discussed in earlier issues of Disaster Recovery Today , any pre-disaster preparation, such as pre-selecting qualified contractors, will help reduce future problems.

When determining eligible costs, the defining factor will be whether the costs are deemed “reasonable.” A Subrecipient will need to prove to FEMA that the cost incurred was appropriate for the work completed. Many factors such as availability of resources, local cost factors, difficulty of the project, and the timing of completion can make costs appear exorbitantly high. Oftentimes, if a Subrecipient can demonstrate that they have paid similar costs for comparable work, FEMA will be satisfied.

“When determining eligible costs, the defining factor will be whether the costs are deemed ‘reasonable.’”