FEMA to waive some Katrina debt

Feb. 8, 2012 at 5:20 PM
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WASHINGTON, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- Some victims of Hurricane Katrina will be permitted to keep money they mistakenly received from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. officials said.

U.S. Sens. Mary Landrieu, D-La., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Wednesday announced FEMA will send letters to 90,000 affected individuals and households informing them they may be eligible for a waiver. They will have 60 days to request a waiver and certify that they meet the criteria, including need, household income and appropriate use of funds.

A provision in the 2012 federal spending bill allows FEMA to waive a debt owed to the federal government if the individual earns less than $90,000 and was given assistance due to FEMA error. Previously, FEMA did not have the authority to waive any overpayment debt, Landrieu said.

"I commend FEMA for moving swiftly and aggressively to implement a plan that will allow eligible disaster victims to apply for a refund or cancellation of their debt," Landrieu said in a statement. "This announcement will bring great relief to many honest disaster survivors who never intended to misuse funds or take anything to which they were not entitled. To have forced people who experienced great tragedy to pay large sums of money back to the government because of someone else's mistake would have been incredibly unfair."

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