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.
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 known as food stamps for disaster situations. D-SNAP provides one month’s worth 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’ll have about a week to apply.
If you qualify, you’ll receive benefits within three days.
Find Out If You Qualify for D-Snap
You must live where:
- The president has declared individual assistance for the disaster area
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service (USDA FNS) has approved states to operate D-SNAP in a disaster area
- Your state has requested and received FNS approval to operate D-SNAP
You may qualify for D-SNAP even if you wouldn't normally qualify for regular SNAP (food stamps) because:
If you already receive SNAP, you can apply for D-SNAP if the amount you’d receive is more than you get under SNAP.
As a separate benefit, you may be able to get free meals for your children or your entire family. This is provided through the school meals programs.
Apply for D-SNAP
Contact your local SNAP office to apply for D-SNAP or to find the location of special application sites throughout the affected disaster area.
Disaster Relief Assistance
Following a disaster, you may be facing damages to your property. 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.
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 be eligible 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:
The Department of Labor (DOL) provides income and job assistance after a disaster. This includes:
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:
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 211.org 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 also known as Section 203(h). It’s offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
You don't have to make a down payment. You do have to pay closing costs and prepaid expenses. Or, the seller can pay them.
FHA mortgage insurance is not free. You must pay a premium upfront and regular monthly premiums with your mortgage payment.
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.
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.
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.
Do you have a question?
Ask a real person any government-related question for free. They'll get you the answer or let you know where to find it.
September 9, 2020