Financial Assistance After a Disaster

Find out how to get financial assistance from the government if you've been the victim of a disaster.

Disaster Relief Assistance

Apply for Assistance

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

 

Tax Relief After a Disaster

The IRS provides tax relief to survivors of disasters. Find out if you qualify.

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.

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What to Expect After You Apply for FEMA Aid

Learn what happens after you apply for federal disaster 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.

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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.

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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

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.

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No Downpayment Mortgage for Disaster Survivors

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) Section 203(h) program offers features that make recovery from a disaster easier for homeowners:

  • No downpayment 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:

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Last Updated: August 16, 2017

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