Financial Assistance After a Disaster

Find out how to get emergency financial help from the government if you've been the victim of a disaster. This can include disaster unemployment assistance, special home loans for disaster victims, and disaster tax relief.

Disaster Relief Assistance

Apply for Individual Assistance

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

Apply for a Disaster Recovery Loan

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

Tax Relief After a Disaster

Find out if you qualify for disaster relief on your federal taxes.

Complaints

If you have a complaint about disaster relief assistance, contact the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General’s Office at 1-800-323-8603.

Back to Top

Get Emergency Help Paying for Food

You may be able to get short-term financial help for your family’s food following a disaster. If the president authorizes individual disaster assistance for your area, you may qualify for D-SNAP—disaster supplemental nutrition assistance. 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.

Following a disaster, you may lose work or face big expenses, like repairing your home. So even if your normal household income wouldn’t qualify you for regular SNAP (food stamp) benefits, you may qualify for D-SNAP. If you already receive SNAP, you can apply for D-SNAP if the amount you’d receive is more than you get under SNAP.

Following a disaster, your children or your entire family may also be able to get free meals through the school meals programs.

Back to Top

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 utility 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

To get help:

Back to Top

Disaster Unemployment Assistance

Disaster Unemployment Assistance provides financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits.

Visit the Disaster Unemployment Assistance website to:

  • See if you are 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. For more information, call 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365).

DisasterAssistance.gov also provides information on how to apply for disaster assistance.

Back to Top

Infographic: FEMA Disaster Relief for Your Home

You need emergency financial help to repair or rebuild your home, and you’ve applied for a SBA disaster loan. Next, a FEMA inspector will contact you to arrange a visit. Learn how to prepare for the inspector’s visit, what the inspector will do during the visit, and what will happen after it.

What to Expect After You Apply for FEMA Aid. See description below.

  • What to Expect After You Apply for FEMA Aid

    You may receive an application to apply for a low-interest, long term SBA Disaster Loan. Completing the SBA loan application is an important step in finding out what aid may be available to you.

    As a homeowner you may borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace your primary residence and up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property. You are not required to accept the loan to receive FEMA assistance, but it may enable you to be considered for different types of assistance. 

    After you apply

    An inspector will contact you to schedule a visit.

    Be ready to:

    • Keep your schedule appointment:
      • Appointments take 30-40 minutes, and you must be present.
      • Contact your insurance agent if you have insurance
      • Prove your identity.
    • Show these documents:
      • Photo ID: driver's license or passport
      • Proof of occupancy: lease or utility bill
      • Proof of ownership: deed, title, mortgage payment book, or tax receipts

    During the Inspector's Visit

    Inspectors will:

    • wear official FEMA ID badges.
    • confirm your disaster registration number.
    • review structural and personal property damage.
    • ask you to sign official documentation.
    • verify ownership and occupancy.

    Inspectors won't:

    • determine eligibility.
    • cost any money.
    • ask for credit card information.
    • take the place of an insurance inspection.

    After the Inspector's Visit

    You will be sent a decision letter.

    If you are approved for aid:

    • You will receive a check or an electronic funds transfer.
    • A follow-up letter will explain how the funds can be used.

    If you have questions regarding the letter, you can visit a Disaster Recovery Center in your area or call us at 800-621-3362 (711/Video Relay Service). For TTY, call 800-462-7585.

Back to Top

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 an insured mortgage to finance the purchase or reconstruction of a single family home that will be your principal residence.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) home mortgage insurance for disaster victims program offers features that make recovery from a disaster easier for homeowners:

  • No down payment is required. You must pay closing costs and prepaid expenses in cash or through premium pricing, or the seller can pay them, subject to a 6 percent seller concessions limit.
  • FHA mortgage insurance is not free. Lenders collect from the borrowers an up-front insurance premium (which may be financed) at the time of purchase, as well as monthly premiums that are not financed, but instead are added to the regular mortgage payment.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets limits on the amount that may be insured. FHA sets limits on the dollar value of the mortgage, to make sure that its programs serve low and moderate income people. You can view the current FHA mortgage limits online. These figures vary over time and by place, depending on the cost of living and other factors (higher limits also exist for two to four family properties).

For more information on the no-down payment program:

Back to Top

File a Complaint About Disaster Relief Assistance

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

Complaints About Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Employees and Operations

Contact the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General if you wish to file a complaint about the handling of FEMA applications for presidentially declared disaster assistance.

Complaints About Disaster Relief Fraud

Scammers and identity thieves often target people affected by disaster. Most scams involve some aspect of applying for disaster assistance. Learn what to do to protect yourself from disaster relief fraud.

Contact the Disaster Relief Fraud Hotline to report:

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

You may contact the Disaster Relief Fraud Hotline at:

Phone: 1-866-720-5721 (The hotline is staffed by a live operator 24 hours a day, seven days a week)
Fax: 1-225-334-4707
Email: disaster@leo.gov

National Center for Disaster Fraud
Baton Rouge LA 70821-4909

If You Are Unable to Resolve an Issue with a Government Agency

If you are unable to resolve an issue with a federal agency, contact the office of the Inspector General of that agency. To file a complaint against a state or territory government agency, contact the agency directly.

Share This Page:

Back to Top

Do you need help?

Ask us any question about the U.S. government for free. We'll get you the answer or tell you where to find it.

What you think matters!

Last Updated: September 7, 2018