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Financial Assistance Within Designated Natural Disaster Areas

Following an event like an earthquake, flood, or tornado, the president may declare an area a natural disaster and allow individual assistance for those affected. Learn how you can qualify for disaster help with food, bills, unemployment, tax relief, and more.

Disaster Relief Assistance

Following a disaster, you may be facing damages to your home or business. Find out about how to receive financial help in the form of loans and tax relief.

Apply for Help With Disaster Recovery

There are several ways to see if you qualify for financial help after a disaster:

Apply for a Disaster Recovery Loan

The Small Business Administration provides low-interest loans. These loans can help homeowners and small businesses recover from declared disasters. Find out if you're eligible and apply online.

Get Tax Relief After a Disaster

Find out if you qualify as an individual or as a business owner for disaster relief from the IRS on your income taxes.

Complain About Disaster Relief Assistance

Learn where to file a complaint about your disaster relief experience or report disaster relief fraud.

D-SNAP Helps With Food Costs After a Declared Disaster

If the president authorizes individual disaster assistance for your area, you may qualify for D-SNAP

Learn About D-SNAP 

The Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is also called food stamps for disaster situations. D-SNAP provides one month of benefits on a debit-type card that you can use at most grocery stores.

  • Once your state sets up a D-SNAP program, you have about a week to apply.

  • If you qualify, you will receive benefits within three days.

Find Out If You Qualify for D-SNAP

You may qualify for D-SNAP if you live where:

You may qualify for D-SNAP even if you would not qualify for regular SNAP (food stamps) because:

  • You're out of work or have reduced or delayed income due to the disaster

  • You're facing costly home repairs or temporary shelter expenses

If you already receive SNAP, you can apply for D-SNAP if you do not get the most allowable under SNAP and have disaster-related losses.

As a separate benefit, you may be able to get free meals for your children or your entire family. School meals programs provide these meals.

Apply for D-SNAP

Contact your local SNAP office to apply for D-SNAP or find application sites throughout the affected disaster area. 

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

If you’ve lost your job as a direct result of a major disaster, you may be eligible for disaster unemployment assistance. If you own your own business, you may qualify too. 

You’re not eligible if you qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits.

Eligibility, Benefits, and Filing a Claim for Disaster Unemployment

Visit the Disaster Unemployment Assistance web page to:

  • See if you’re eligible for assistance

  • View the benefits you may receive

  • Get information on how to file a claim

The Department of Labor (DOL) provides income and job assistance after a disaster. This help includes:

  • Keeping workers safe during cleanup and recovery efforts

  • Ensuring workers get paid properly

For more information, call 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365).

Get Emergency Help with Utility Bills

If you can’t afford to heat or cool your home after a disaster, you may qualify for emergency help with energy bills. 

Where can I get help with my energy bills?

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) may be able to provide disaster relief funding so you can:

  • Pay to reconnect utilities

  • Pay utility bills

  • Repair or replace your furnace and air conditioners

  • Repair home insulation

  • Buy coats and blankets

  • Buy fans and generators

How can I apply for assistance with energy bills?

To get help:

FEMA does not help with emergency electric or utility payments. But local social services agencies or charitable organizations may offer short-term help. Visit online or call 211 to find local agencies that may be able to help.

Mortgages for Homeowners Rebuilding After a Disaster

If you lost your home due to a major disaster, you may qualify for an insured mortgage. You can use the mortgage to rebuild your home or to buy another one. It must be a single family home and your main residence.

How does disaster mortgage insurance work?

The mortgage insurance for disaster victims program helps homeowners recover by making it easier to get a mortgage. The program is offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

  • The government sets limits on the amount that may be insured and on the dollar value of the mortgage itself. See the current FHA mortgage limits. These figures vary by location depending on the cost of living and other factors.

  • FHA mortgage insurance is not free. You must pay a premium upfront and regular monthly premiums with your mortgage payment.

  • You don't have to make a down payment. You do have to pay closing costs and prepaid expenses. 

Find More Information on the No Down Payment Program

Tax Relief in Disaster Situations

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offers special tax help to individuals and businesses hurt by a major disaster or emergency.

Get Your Tax Refund Faster After a Disaster

In a federally declared disaster area, you can get a faster refund by filing an amended return. You will need to claim the disaster-related losses on your tax return for the previous year.

Get guidance from the IRS on amending a tax return or filing an extension after a disaster.

Tax Relief for Recent Disasters

Get a list of the most recent disasters which may be eligible for tax relief.

Find More Resources About Taxes and Disasters

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS that connects taxpayers with tax-related resources.

Learn more about preparing for and what to do after a disaster, including:

  • Finding the latest tax information related to recent disasters

  • Keeping tax records safe and documenting assets before a disaster

  • Restoring tax records if they were lost or destroyed in a disaster

File a Complaint About Disaster Relief Assistance

Several U.S. government programs help people after a disaster or emergency. If you want to file a complaint about a specific program, contact the agency that manages it.

File a Complaint About FEMA Operations and Employees

Contact FEMA if you have a complaint about its work or employees during or after a disaster. 

Report Disaster Relief Fraud

Scammers and identity thieves often target people affected by a disaster. Most scams involve some aspect of applying for disaster assistance and can include:

  • Fraud, waste, abuse, or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations
  • Fraud committed by an individual or entity outside the U.S. 
  • Someone filing a false damage claim

Read tips to spot disaster fraud and scams and to avoid them.

Learn where to report disaster relief fraud.

Get More Help If You Can’t Resolve an Issue With a Government Agency

If you're unable to resolve an issue with a federal agency, contact that agency's inspector general. To file a complaint against a state or territory government agency, contact the agency directly.

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Last Updated: February 14, 2023