Help for Individuals and Families After a Disaster
If you have insurance, you should file a claim with your insurance company immediately. FEMA assistance cannot help with losses already covered by insurance. FEMA assistance is not the same as insurance. Assistance only provides the basic needs for a home to be safe, sanitary, and secure.
Apply for Disaster Assistance
The fastest way to apply is through DisasterAssistance.gov. You can also apply through the FEMA mobile app or by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. If you use a video relay service, captioned telephone service, or other communication services, please provide FEMA the specific number assigned for that service.
Get Immediate Help
Find help with needs that FEMA is not authorized to provide. Check with your local emergency management officials, or voluntary agencies. The FEMA Helpline (800-621-3362) may be able to provide additional referrals. If you use a video relay service, captioned telephone service, or other communication services, please provide FEMA the specific number assigned for that service.
I Applied for Assistance. What's Next?
If You have Insurance
Please contact your insurance company as soon as possible to file a claim. FEMA can only provide money after you get your insurance settlement. If your insurance doesn’t cover all of your home repair or rebuilding expenses, FEMA may be able to help. You have up to 12 months from the date that you applied to submit your insurance settlement records to FEMA for review. In addition, you have up to 12 months from the date that you applied for assistance with FEMA to appeal denials because of insurance issues.
FEMA can’t provide money for expenses covered by insurance or duplicate benefits from another source. When you get your insurance settlement or denial, please send a copy to FEMA as soon as you can.
If your insurance settlement is delayed more than 30 days from the time you file your claim, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.
If You Do Not Have Insurance
FEMA will verify your disaster-caused losses (see definition on second page). The agency will schedule a time to inspect your home if you reported damage to your home or personal property. Or FEMA will ask you to send documents to verify your expenses.
You will receive notification letters from FEMA either by mail or electronic correspondence explaining your next steps. If necessary, based on the losses you reported, an inspector will contact you by phone to schedule an inspection. If you miss the call, they will leave a voicemail message and make multiple attempts to reach you. The inspector should not need to view repair receipts or pictures of the damage. But if you begin cleaning up before the inspection, FEMA suggests you take pictures, make a list of your losses, and keep receipts for all of your disaster-caused expenses.
I Was Told to Call the U.S. Small Business Administration
FEMA is not allowed to provide disaster assistance for certain losses covered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans. The SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to individuals and households to help with disaster losses. FEMA works with the SBA to determine if you may qualify for Personal Property Assistance, Transportation Assistance, or a Group Flood Insurance Policy.
FEMA will automatically refer you to the SBA to be considered for a disaster loan if you meet SBA’s income standards. FEMA uses your household annual gross income and number of dependents to determine if you should be referred to the SBA.
If you are referred to the SBA, FEMA will contact you via an auto-dialer system to explain how to apply for a disaster loan. You must complete and return a loan application to be considered for an SBA loan or certain types of FEMA assistance. You do not have to accept an SBA loan offer. However, if you are approved for an SBA loan, and you do not accept it, you will not be referred back to FEMA for personal property or transportation assistance.
For more information about the SBA disaster loan program, please call the SBA at 800-659-2955 (TTY: 800-877-8339). SBA information is also available at www.SBA.gov/disaster or by email at [email protected].
Verifying Home Ownership or Occupancy
FEMA is required to verify you lived at the address in your application as your primary residence before providing most types of assistance. FEMA is also required to verify you owned your home before providing home repair or home replacement assistance. Learn more about this process.
As part of our effort to make the disaster assistance process quicker and reduce the burden on applicants, we try to verify occupancy and ownership by using an automated public records search.
If we cannot verify you lived in or owned the home that you listed on your application, we will ask you to provide documents to prove occupancy and/or ownership to help us determine if you are approved for assistance.
FEMA Disaster Definition
An occurrence of a natural catastrophe, technological accident, or humancaused event that has resulted in severe property damage, deaths, and/or multiple injuries. As used in this Guide, a “large-scale disaster” is one that exceeds the response capability of the local jurisdiction and requires State, and potentially Federal, involvement. As used in the Stafford Act, a “major disaster” is “any natural catastrophe [...] or, regardless of cause, any fire, flood, or explosion, in any part of the United States, which in the determination of the President causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant major disaster assistance under [the] Act to supplement the efforts and available resources or States, local governments, and disaster relief organizations in alleviating the damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused thereby.”