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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

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  • Before You Apply

    When should I apply for disaster assistance on DisasterAssistance.gov?

    You can apply for assistance on DisasterAssistance.gov after the President issues a major disaster declaration and your county is designated for Individual Assistance.

     

    For a list of current federal disaster declarations:

    • Visit FEMA’s Disaster Declarations page.
    • When you find your disaster, go onto your disaster’s page.
    • Once you are on your disaster’s page, click on the PDF of Map to see the counties that are included in the declaration.

    Remember, your county must be designated for Individual Assistance before you can apply on DisasterAssistance.gov.

     

    View the Federal Disaster Declaration Process (PDF, 2 MB) to learn more about when you can apply for assistance.

    How do I search for forms of disaster assistance?

    There are three ways to search for forms of disaster assistance on DisasterAssistance.gov:

    • Find Assistance under the Disaster Assistance tab to get a personalized list of possible forms of assistance. Based on your answers to the questions, you will receive a personalized list of possible forms of assistance.
      • The nature of the questions will vary. Most are specifically related to disasters, while others will use the information you provide to recommend other forms of assistance that may meet your individual needs.
      • You are not required to answer all questions to complete the questionnaire. Since this is an anonymous questionnaire, this information is not saved and will not be used by any federal agency.
    • Find Assistance by Category under the Disaster Assistance tab. On this page, you can search for information about the forms of assistance available by category such as Housing, Insurance, Legal Counsel, Living Assistance, Social Security, and Disability Assistance, among others.
    • Find Assistance by Federal Agency under the Disaster Assistance tab. On this page, you can search for information about the forms of assistance provided by a specific federal agency, including U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), among others.

       

    What should I expect when taking the questionnaire on DisasterAssistance.gov?

    Taking the questionnaire to Find Assistance should take only a few minutes. You are not required to answer all questions but you will get the best results if you do. Based on your answers to the questions, the questionnaire will provide you with a personalized list of possible forms of assistance. The nature of the questions will vary. Most are specifically related to disasters, while others will use the information you provide to recommend other forms of assistance that may meet your individual needs.

     

    Since this is an anonymous questionnaire, this information is not being saved and will not be used by any federal agency.

  • When You Apply

    How do I apply for disaster assistance through this website?

    You may apply for disaster assistance two ways:

    • Find Assistance by completing an anonymous questionnaire to get the most acccurate, personalized list of possible assistance. Once you receive your list, you can apply directly online to each referral or review additional information about how to apply for the forms of assistance that do not have an online application.
    • Skip the questionnaire by clicking Apply Online on the DisasterAssistance.gov home page. This will take you directly to FEMA's application for assistance from the Individuals and Households Program (IHP). 

    Note: There may be additional assistance programs you can identify by taking the questionnaire. These other forms of assistance are not managed by FEMA, but you can apply for them online or receive additional information on how to apply.

    How do I create an account to access my FEMA application online?

    To create an online account, please:

    1. Visit DisasterAssistance.gov.
    2. Click the button that says Check Your Status.
    3. Next, choose Create Account from the bottom of the login page.
    4. A form will appear to confirm your identity. Fill in your date of birth and Social Security number.
    5. To protect your identity and personal information, you will be asked to answer a few questions. The questions will include information pulled from your public records and are intended to prove your identity and ensure your personal information is secure. 
    6. After successfully verifying your identity, you will be asked to create a password.
    7. A temporary PIN will be sent to the email address you provided. You should receive your temporary PIN within 24 hours.

     

    Note: You will have two opportunities to confirm your identity. If you fail the second time, you will not be able to continue. If this happens, please contact FEMA’s Internet Help Desk at 1-800-745-0243. Please have your Registration ID and Social Security number ready when you call.

     

    When you first log in, you will be asked to change the temporary PIN to a personalized PIN of your choosing. You will need the following information:

    • User ID
    • Password
    • PIN

      FEMA representatives cannot create online accounts for applicants; this would be a violation of the Privacy Act. If you require technical assistance accessing your FEMA online account, please call FEMA’s Internet Help Desk at 1-800-745-0243; they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Additionally, you can email your question to FEMA-ContactUs@fema.dhs.gov and you will receive a response in 1 to 2 business days.  If you have questions about the information on your online account, please call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).

      I tried to set up my personal account online, but received an error message stating I "did not pass the security quiz." What does this mean, and what should I do?

      Before you can set up a FEMA online account at DisasterAssistance.gov, you must verify your identify. You will be asked to take a short security quiz to ensure your personal information is secure. If you receive an error message, this message means your responses to the questions asked did not match information on record.  

       

      Contact FEMA’s Internet Help Desk at 1-800-745-0243 for assistance with lost or forgotten user ID, PIN or password. Representatives are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

       

      If you have questions about applying online, assistance offered by FEMA, or accessing your online FEMA account, please email FEMA-ContactUs@fema.dhs.gov or call the FEMA Helpline 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). Representatives are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET. Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). Both resources are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

      What happens if I apply more than once for disaster assistance online?

      If you complete more than one application for a single disaster, it may take longer to process your case. If you have suffered damage or loss caused by two or more disasters, you should apply for assistance for each disaster separately. Be sure to select the correct disaster on the first page of the application. Enter the damage and losses for that disaster only.

      Who do I contact for help with this site?

      • You can email your question to FEMA-ContactUs@fema.dhs.gov and you will receive a response in 1 to 2 business days. 
      • If you get an error message or are having trouble accessing your account, please call FEMA’s Internet Help Desk at 1-800-745-0243.
      • Additional contact options are found on the Contact Us page under the Help tab.
      • To apply for disaster assistance by phone or to check the status of your application, please call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).  Disaster applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585 directly.  Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).

      I am trying to apply for FEMA assistance online, but I don't understand the information on these pages. Is there any help available offering further explanations?

      If you have questions about applying online, assistance offered by FEMA or accessing your online FEMA account, please email FEMA-ContactUs@fema.dhs.gov or call the FEMA Helpline 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). Representatives are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET. Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). Representatives are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

       

      Contact FEMA’s Internet Help Desk at 1-800-745-0243 for assistance with lost or forgotten user ID, PIN or password (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week).

       

      You can also visit a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). At a DRC, survivors can meet face to face with FEMA staff to learn how they can get help after a disaster. DRCs are set up in convenient locations to make it easier for survivors to learn about the disaster assistance process or to ask questions about their application. There are two ways to find a DRC:

      • Search online for DRCs nearest to your location using the DRC Locator. DRC Locator also provides additional information about each DRC, such as hours of operation, services offered and driving directions to the DRC.
      • Find DRCs nearest to your location by texting DRC and a ZIP Code to 4FEMA (43362).

      Searching for DRCs or shelters will not add you to a text message list. This feature is similar to doing a search on the Internet.

      How long can you stay on DisasterAssistance.gov without entering information?

      Your DisasterAssistance.gov application session will time-out if there is no activity for 40 minutes and you will not be able to continue applying. Entries made before the system timed-out will not be saved.

       

      • If you have not created a User ID and password yet, you will need to start over.
      • If you have created a User ID and password and your session has timed-out please sign back in using your User ID and password. Once you have logged back in, any information you entered that was not saved will need to be re-entered.

      Do you have to be a U.S. citizen to be eligible for disaster assistance?

      You or a member of your household must be a U.S. Citizen, Non-Citizen National, or a Qualified Alien to qualify for assistance from FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program.

       

      A Qualified Alien generally includes individuals who are lawful permanent residents (possessing an alien registration receipt card) or those with legal status due to asylum, refugee, parole (admission into the U.S. for humanitarian purposes), withholding of deportation or domestic violence. If you are unsure of your immigration status, you should consult an immigration expert to determine if your immigration status falls within the Qualified Alien category.

       

      Adults that are not a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien, to include undocumented individuals, can apply on behalf of a minor child who is a U.S. citizen, non-citizen national or qualified alien and has a Social Security number. FEMA or the Social Security Administration (SSA) can provide information about obtaining a Social Security number for a minor child. The minor child must live with the parent/guardian applying on his/her behalf. No information regarding citizenship status will be gathered.

       

      Other individual assistance programs such as Crisis Counseling, Disaster Legal Services and other short-term, non-cash emergency assistance, such as mass shelters, are available to individuals and families regardless of citizenship status. Additionally, voluntary agencies such as the American Red Cross and the United Way provide help regardless of citizenship status. To find voluntary organizations in your disaster area:

      Who should I call if I want to apply for disaster assistance over the phone?

      Disaster survivors may call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). Disaster survivors who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585 directly. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). Representatives are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET. You may apply directly to other agencies using the information found on the Disaster Assistance pages on the website: find assistance, assistance by category or by assistance by federal agency.

    • After You Apply

      How do I check the status of my application?

      Applicants with an email account can check the status of an application by first creating an online account at DisasterAssistance.gov. Once you have created your account, visit DisasterAssistance.gov and click on Check Your Status located on the right side of the homepage. From there, you may log in and check the status of your application.

       

      If you don’t know whether your application is complete, you can call the FEMA Helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).

      When trying to check the status of my FEMA application, I received an error message stating "Your answers do not match our records." What should I do?

      If you have questions about applying online, assistance offered by FEMA or accessing your online FEMA account, please email FEMA-ContactUs@fema.dhs.gov or call the FEMA Helpline 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362); available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET. Disaster assistance applicants who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY should call 1-800-462-7585 directly; for those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). Representatives are available seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET.

       

      Contact FEMA’s Internet Help Desk at 1-800-745-0243 for assistance with lost or forgotten user ID, PIN or password (available 24 hours a day, seven days a week).

      Is there a limit to the benefits disaster survivors may receive?

      Disaster assistance varies by agency and form of assistance and is based on survivor needs. There are multiple forms of assistance you can find out about by taking the DisasterAssistance.gov questionnaire.

       

      Limits to Amount of Assistance: Some agencies provide conditions and/or limit the amount of assistance an individual or family can receive. FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) provides financial help or direct services to those who have necessary expenses and serious needs if they are unable to meet the needs through other means. The maximum amount of assistance survivors can receive from the IHP is set on an annual basis. Not all survivors will be eligible to receive the maximum. 

       

      Supplemental Assistance: IHP assistance is supplemental and is meant to assist you in restoring your damaged property to a safe, sanitary, and functional condition; it is not intended to restore your damaged property to its condition before the disaster. 

       

      Proper Use of Assistance: All financial assistance provided by FEMA should be used as specified in your award letter, to include renting another place to live, making the home repairs, or replacing or repairing personal property. Failure to use the money as specified may make you ineligible for additional assistance. All money provided by FEMA is tax-free.

       

      Insurance: FEMA’s programs are not designed to take the place of insurance, nor can they cover all disaster-related losses. The assistance FEMA provides is not as comprehensive as an insurance policy. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits, and FEMA can only help with verified losses not covered by your insurance company. 

       

      Duration of Assistance: Repair and Replacement Assistance is provided as a one‐time payment. Temporary Housing Assistance is provided for an initial period of one, two, or three months. To be considered for additional temporary housing assistance, you must demonstrate that you have spent any previous assistance from FEMA as instructed, and you must demonstrate your efforts to re‐establish permanent housing. Additional Temporary Housing Assistance is generally provided for one, two, or three months at a time. The maximum period for IHP assistance is 18 months.

      How does my insurance impact my eligibility for disaster assistance?

      By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits by providing money for losses that are covered by your insurance. Therefore, you should file a claim with your insurance provider as soon as possible.

       

      Delayed Insurance Settlement: If a decision on your insurance settlement has been delayed longer than 30 days from the time you filed the claim, you may write a letter to FEMA, explaining the circumstances of the delay. Any help subsequently awarded to you by FEMA would be considered an advance and must be repaid to FEMA once an insurance settlement is received.

       

      Insufficient Insurance Settlement: If you have received the maximum settlement from your insurance and still have an unmet disaster-related need, you may write a letter to FEMA, detailing your unmet need. You must also provide documentation from your insurance settlement.

       

      Exhaustion of Additional Living Expenses (ALE): If you have received the maximum settlement from your insurance for ALE and have a continued need for disaster-related temporary housing, you may write a letter to FEMA, detailing your need and providing proof of exhaustion via documentation. 

       

      You have up to 12 months from the date you applied with FEMA to submit your insurance information for review. If you have any questions, you may call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). Disaster survivors who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585 directly. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).

      If I don’t agree with FEMA’s decision, can I appeal?

      If you disagree with FEMAʹs determination of eligibility or the form of assistance provided, you have the right to appeal within 60 days of the date of your notification letter. Send appeal letters to: Appeals Officer, FEMA ‐ Individuals & Households Program, National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782‐7055. You may call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). Disaster survivors who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use TTY can call 1-800-462-7585 directly. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362).

      Does disaster help have to be repaid?

      Generally, disaster assistance from FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) does not have to be repaid. However, if you informed FEMA that your insurance settlement was delayed and as a result obtained disaster assistance, any funds awarded to you by FEMA would be considered an advance and must be repaid to FEMA once your insurance settlement is received.

       

      As IHP assistance is limited to assisting applicants with necessary expenses and serious needs, most disaster aid from the federal government is in the form of low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration that must be repaid.

      How can I report disaster fraud?

      There are several ways to report disaster fraud:

      • Call the FEMA Waste, Fraud and Abuse Hotline at 1-800-323-8603. You do not have to provide your name.
      • Fax DHS OIG Hotline at 202-254-4297.
      • Email FEMA-OCSO-Tipline@fema.dhs.gov.
      • Write to the DHS Office of Inspector General, Attn: Office of Investigations Hotline, 245 Murray Drive SW, Building 410/Mail Stop 2600, Washington, DC  20528.