Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Got questions? This page offers a list of frequently asked questions where you may be able to find answers. Just click on a question to see the answer. If you can’t find the answer you're looking for, please Contact Us.

Common Tech Questions

Who do I contact for help with the site?

If you get an error or need help to access your account, call the Internet Help Desk, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-745-0243

Help desk staff cannot provide any information or help with your FEMA account or application. You must contact the FEMA Helpline or visit a DRC for account or application help.


Why do I keep getting an error message and have to start my application over again?

You must have a continuous internet connection when you apply. If you get disconnected, that may interrupt your session and require you to log in again or start your application over. We recommend that you check your internet connection before you start an application.


What is CAPTCHA? How can I get it to work?

CAPTCHA is a simple puzzle or image that helps us ensure that a human is filling out the application and not a robot. The CAPTCHA is compatible with screen-readers.

On the CAPTCHA screen, you should see an image with letters or numbers.

  1. Type the characters exactly as you see them into small box below the CAPTCHA image.
  2. Click the Submit button.

If you have trouble understanding the characters in the image, click the blue text that says, “If you have trouble with the image, click this link to try a different option.” This will give you a simple question to answer.

  1. Select the correct answer.
  2. Click the Submit button.

You may attempt to complete CAPTCHA three times. You will get an error message each time an attempt fails. If it fails three times, you will be prompted to go back to the Home page. You will then need to click Apply Online to try CAPTCHA again.

If you continue to have problems with CAPTCHA, be sure to check your internet connection. Close your web browser and re-open it to ensure the webpage is updated.


How do I create an account?

To create an online account, you must first verify your identity:

  1. Click Check Status on the Home page or from the Get Assistance menu.
  2. Click Create Account.
  3. Enter your date of birth and Social Security number.
  4. Answer four security questions to prove who you are.

We pull these questions from data in your public record. We use them to make sure your personal information is secure.

Note: You have two chances to confirm your identity. If you fail the second time, you get a message that says, “Your answers do not match our records.” If that happens, click Home and go from step 1 above to try again.

If you still have problems, please call the Internet Help Desk. The phone number is below.

After your identity is verified, you may continue:

  1. Create a user ID and password. Choose ones you can easily remember.
  2. Enter an email address. This is the only way we can send you a PIN and you need that to access your account.

A temporary PIN will be sent to the email address you entered. You should receive it within 24 hours.

  1. When you get your PIN, follow the instructions in the email to finish creating your account.

For help to create or access your account, call the Internet Help Desk, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-745-0243

When you call the help desk, you need to provide the following:

  • Your Registration ID
  • Your Social Security Number

To comply with the Privacy Act, help desk staff cannot create an online account for you.

They also cannot provide information or help with your FEMA account or application. You must contact the FEMA Helpline or visit a DRC for account or application help.


Why won’t the system accept the password I’m creating?

When you create an online account, you’ll  need to create a password. To help secure your information, you must create a strong password that meets the following criteria:

  • Must be 8-14 characters.
  • Contain at least 2 uppercase and 2 lowercase characters.
  • Contain at least 2 numbers.
  • Contain at least 1 special character.
    • You cannot use the following special characters: spaces, single or double quotes (‘ or "), hashes (#), commas (,), backslashes (\), ampersands (&), question marks (?), curly braces ({}), pipes (|), or the @ sign.
  • Cannot be identical to the previous password.

If your password does not meet these requirements the system will not accept it. You need this password every time you log into your online account.


I get an error when I try to set up my account. What should I do?

Before you can set up an account, you need to answer four security questions to prove who you are. We pull these questions from data in your public record. We use them to make sure your personal information is secure.

If you get an error, this means your answers don’t match what’s on record.

For help to access your account or for lost or forgotten user ID, password or PIN, call the Internet Help Desk, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-745-0243

Help desk staff cannot provide any information or help with your FEMA account or application. You must contact the FEMA Helpline or visit a DRC for account or application help.


How do I get a PIN? What do I do if I don’t get the PIN email?

When you create an online account, FEMA will email you a temporary 4-digit PIN. It may take up to 24 hours to receive your PIN. Check your spam and junk folders if you do not see the email in your inbox.

You will need this temporary PIN to log into your online account.


I get errors when I try to log in. What should I do?

For help to access your account, or for lost or forgotten user ID, password or PIN, call the Internet Help Desk, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-745-0243

Help desk staff cannot provide any information or help with your FEMA account or application. You must contact the FEMA Helpline or visit a DRC for account or application help.


What is a secure access code and how do I get one?

A secure access code is a system-generated password. It consists of numbers or letters that verifies the user who is requesting access. You can only use it for a single transaction or session.

To help protect your online account, we will send you a one-time secure access code every time you log in. Based on the option you select, you will get the code by text, email, or voice call. This code will change each time you access your online account.

To access your online account, you will always need your user ID, password, PIN, and a secure access code.


Why is a secure access code necessary to access my account?

To help protect your information, we have increased the security to access online accounts. Since the code is valid for only one login session, it is more secure than a password or PIN that you can reuse.


How can I get my secure access code?

You can choose to get your code from a text message, an email, or a voice phone call. We pull the phone number(s) and email address from information you provided in your FEMA registration.


Will I need to have a secure access code every time I access my account?

Yes. You can only use the code once. You must have a new code each time you access your online account.


Do I need a secure access code to get updates when I call the FEMA Helpline?

No. When you call the FEMA Helpline, we use other information to verify your identity. The helpline representative must verify your identity before they can give you information.


I already have a PIN and password. Do I need a secure access code to access my account?

Yes. The code is an additional security measure to help protect your information. After you enter the code, you must enter your current PIN and password to access your account.


Before You Apply

When can I apply for assistance?

To apply for assistance, the president must make a major disaster declaration for your state. The declaration must also name the county you live in for Individual Assistance.

To see if your county has been declared:

  • Enter your city and state or ZIP code in the Look-up box on the Home page and click Look-up. This will take you to the Address Look-up page.
  • Once on the page, you will see your county and disaster name listed under “Declared Counties” if it is declared.

You can click the link for the disaster name to visit the FEMA page for more information and resources. Or click Apply Online to start your application.

The assistance offered for each disaster may vary.

FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

The Application Period for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance is now open. To apply, and for ALL other questions and concerns about this program, call 1-844-684-6333 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. Do not call the normal FEMA Helpline for help with this assistance.

If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

You must apply by phone for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance. FEMA will not accept online applications. Before you call, visit the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance page for more details.


What if my county isn't declared?

Do you have damage from a disaster but don’t see your county declared for Individual Assistance?

Sometimes other counties are added to the declaration later. You can come back and look up your address from our Home page to see if your county has been added. You can also visit FEMA's Disaster Declarations page.

You can also contact your state emergency management agency to see if any other help is available.


How do I search for assistance?

You can search for disaster assistance in two ways:

  1. Click Find Assistance either from the Home page or under the Get Assistance menu to answer the questionnaire.
    • You’ll get a personalized list of assistance you may apply for based on your answers.
    • The questionnaire is anonymous, so we don’t save your answers and they won’t be shared with any federal agency.
    • The types of questions vary, but you don’t have to answer all of them. You just get better results if you do.
    • Most questions relate directly to disasters, while others use your answers to suggest other assistance you may qualify for.
  2. Click Forms of Assistance under the Get Assistance menu for two search options.
    • You can choose to search for assistance by Category (like Housing or Insurance).
    • You can choose to search for assistance by Federal Agency (like U.S. Small Business Administration).

      The programs are the same for both lists, they’re just organized differently.


What should I expect when I answer the questionnaire?

Answering the questionnaire should only take a few minutes. You don’t have to answer all of the questions, but you’ll get better results if you do.

Once completed, you’ll get a list of assistance you could apply for based on your answers.

It’s anonymous, so we don’t save your answers and they won’t be shared with any federal agency.

The types of questions will vary. Most relate directly to disasters, while others use your answers to suggest other types of assistance you may qualify for.

The questionnaire helps to narrow down your search for possible assistance. If you choose to answer it, your answers do not guarantee eligibility or assistance. It is intended as a reference only.

To apply for assistance other than FEMA’s, you will need to follow the instructions provided for each program. This may require going to another agency’s website.


Can I apply for FEMA assistance if I have insurance?

Yes. You may qualify for FEMA assistance even if you have insurance. By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by your insurance. So, you need to file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.


My insurance settlement hasn't come through yet. Can FEMA help me before it comes?

Maybe. If there is a delay in your settlement, more than 30 days from the date you filed your claim, you may apply for assistance from FEMA. You will need to explain the circumstance.

You must provide proof from the insurance company that you filed the claim. If you filed over the phone, you must provide the claim number, the date you applied, and an estimate of how long it may take to receive your settlement.

Any funds you then get from FEMA will be an advance and must be repaid when you get your settlement.

FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

To apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, and for ALL other questions and concerns about this program, call 1-844-684-6333 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. Do not call the normal FEMA Helpline for help with this assistance.

If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

You must apply by phone. FEMA will not accept online applications. Before you call, visit the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance page for more details.


My insurance settlement did not meet enough needs to help me recover from the disaster. Can I apply for assistance from FEMA?

Yes. You may apply for FEMA assistance if you still have unmet disaster-caused needs after your maximum insurance settlement.

FEMA will request a copy of the claim settlement record and ask you to describe what you still need. You must qualify to receive assistance.

If you applied for help from FEMA because of your deductible, FEMA does not cover insurance deductibles.

If you have any questions, call the FEMA Helpline, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-621-3362 (711 or VRS available)
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

To apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, and for ALL other questions and concerns about this program, call 1-844-684-6333 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. Do not call the normal FEMA Helpline for help with this assistance.

You must apply by phone. FEMA will not accept online applications. Before you call, visit the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance page for more details.


When You Apply

What do I need to know about the information I submit?

It’s very important for you to be as honest and accurate as possible with the information you submit on your application. It helps if you can gather your information, as much as you can, and have it ready when you apply.

If you’re unsure about something, please don’t guess or enter information you know is incorrect. If you don’t think you have everything you need, it’s best not to complete your application until you do. If you need help, you can call the FEMA Helpline, COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline, or go to a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) to ask questions.

Please read the application questions and your information carefully as you proceed. Once you click “Submit,” you can only make limited changes online. If you need to change any information on the application after you submit it, you need to call the FEMA Helpline.

It’s very important to know that your application basically becomes a legal document as soon as it’s submitted. FEMA may use external sources to verify the accuracy of the information you enter.

If you intentionally make false statements or hide information to try to get assistance, it’s a violation of federal and state laws. This can carry severe criminal and civil penalties. Penalties may include a fine of up to $250,000, imprisonment, or both (18 U.S.C § 287, 1001, and 3571).

Please complete your application carefully.

How to Contact the FEMA Helpline

Call from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-621-3362 (711 or VRS available)
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

General questions or comments about FEMA disaster assistance for individuals and families can be emailed to:

  • AskIA@fema.dhs.gov

    FEMA collects, maintains, uses, retrieves, and disseminates the personally identifiable information (PII) of individuals who apply for FEMA disaster assistance under the following authority:

    • The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act), Pub. L. No. 93-288, as amended (42 U.S.C. 5121-5207), and
    • The System of Records Notice DHS/FEMA-008 Disaster Recovery Assistance Files, 78 FR 25282 (April 30, 2013)

    To get case-specific information, we must verify your identity before we can respond to your request. Please provide the following in your email ONLY if you are requesting case-specific information:

    • Your full name
    • Damaged property address
    • Your current mailing address, if different from damaged property address
    • Your current phone number, and
    • ONLY the last four (4) digits of your Social Security number

    FEMA may retain emails submitted to the AskIA email address for internal quality assurance purposes or to update your file, if needed. It is voluntary to provide the requested information. But if we are not able to verify your identity, we will not disclose any case-specific information or complete any updates to your file via email. We will direct you to the FEMA Helpline.

When emailing us, please include your name and the city and state where the disaster occurred or that you are asking about.

How to Apply for FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

To apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, and for ALL other questions and concerns about this program, call 1-844-684-6333 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. Do not call the normal FEMA Helpline for help with this assistance.

You must apply by phone. FEMA will not accept online applications. Before you call, visit the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance page for more details.

How can I find a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center (DRC)?

There are two ways to find a DRC near you:

  • Use the DRC Locator to find a center near you.

    You can get the address as well as the hours of operation, services offered, and driving directions.

  • Text DRC and a ZIP Code to 43362 to find a center near you.

    Example: DRC 01234

    Using this option doesn’t add you to any messaging service. Think of it like doing a search on the web. (Standard text rates may apply.)

You can go to a Disaster Recovery Center to learn about FEMA’s or other assistance programs. You may also ask questions about your case or seek guidance on other disaster-related issues.

The services offered at each DRC may vary.


How do I apply for assistance?

You may apply for assistance in two ways:

  1. Click Find Assistance on the Home page or under the Get Assistance menu and answer the anonymous questionnaire. You will get a list of assistance you may apply for based on your answers. (This does not guarantee eligibility or assistance.)

    You can then either apply online with FEMA or learn how you can apply for other assistance.

    To apply for assistance that FEMA doesn't manage, you will need to follow the instructions provided for each program. This may require going to another agency’s website.

  2. Click Apply Online on the Home page to skip the questionnaire. This takes you directly to the Disaster Assistance Center to start a FEMA application.

How to Apply for FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

To apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, and for ALL other questions and concerns about this program, call 1-844-684-6333 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. Do not call the normal FEMA Helpline for help with this assistance.

If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

You must apply by phone. FEMA will not accept online applications. Before you call, visit the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance page for more details.


Do I need an email address to create an account?

Yes, you must have an email address to create an account. This is the only way we can send you a PIN and you need that to access your account.There are many email providers to choose from. If you’re not sure how to get an email account, we suggest you talk with fa


What happens if I apply more than once?

If you submit more than one application for a single disaster, it may take longer to process your case.

If you have damage caused by two or more disasters, you need to apply separately under each disaster.

Be sure you choose the correct disaster on the first page of each application. Enter only the damage and losses that are specific to that disaster.


I don't understand the application. Can someone explain it to me?

For questions about the application or the assistance offered by FEMA, call the FEMA Helpline, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-621-3362 (711 or VRS available)
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

You can also visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC). DRCs are set up in convenient areas to make them easier to find.

At a DRC, you can meet with FEMA staff to learn how you can get help or to ask questions about your application.

There are two ways to find a DRC:

  • Use the DRC Locator to search for a center near you.

    You can also learn more about each DRC, like hours of operation, services offered, and driving directions.

  • Text DRC and a ZIP code to 43362 to find a center near you.

    Example: DRC 01234

    Using this option doesn’t add you to any messaging service. Think of it like doing a search on the web. (Standard text message rates apply.)

General questions or comments about FEMA disaster assistance for individuals and families can be emailed to:

  • AskIA@fema.dhs.gov

    FEMA collects, maintains, uses, retrieves, and disseminates the personally identifiable information (PII) of individuals who apply for FEMA disaster assistance under the following authority:

    • The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (the Stafford Act), Pub. L. No. 93-288, as amended (42 U.S.C. 5121-5207), and
    • The System of Records Notice DHS/FEMA-008 Disaster Recovery Assistance Files, 78 FR 25282 (April 30, 2013)

    To get case-specific information, we must verify your identity before we can respond to your request. Please provide the following in your email ONLY if you are requesting case-specific information:

    • Your full name
    • Damaged property address
    • Your current mailing address, if different from damaged property address
    • Your current phone number, and
    • ONLY the last four (4) digits of your Social Security number

    FEMA may retain emails submitted to the AskIA email address for internal quality assurance purposes or to update your file, if needed. It is voluntary to provide the requested information. But if we are not able to verify your identity, we will not disclose any case-specific information or complete any updates to your file via email. We will direct you to the FEMA Helpline.

When emailing us, please include your name and the city and state where the disaster occurred or that you are asking about.


How long before my session times out?

Your application session times out if there is no activity for 20 minutes. At that point, you won’t be able to continue and any data you entered before the time-out will be lost.

  • If you didn’t create a user ID and password yet, you’ll need to start over.
  • If you already have a user ID and password, just log in again.

You will need to re-enter any data you didn’t save before the time-out.


Do I have to be a U.S. citizen to qualify for assistance?

To qualify for assistance from FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP), you or a member of your household must be one of the following:

  • U.S. citizen
  • Non-citizen national
  • Qualified alien

A qualified alien is a lawful permanent resident who has a green card. It could also be someone with legal status for any of the following:

  • Asylum
  • Refugee
  • Parole (admission into the U.S. for humanitarian reasons)
  • Withholding of deportation
  • Domestic violence

If you’re unsure of your immigration status, talk to an immigration expert to learn if your status falls within the qualified alien category.

Qualified Minor Child

Adults who don’t qualify under one of the three categories above, including the undocumented, can apply on behalf of a minor child who does qualify and has a Social Security number.

FEMA or the Social Security Administration (SSA) can help you get Social Security Numbers for Children (PDF, 885 KB). A minor child must live with the parent or guardian applying on their behalf. No questions about citizenship status will be asked.

FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

Before you apply, visit the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance page for details.

Other Programs

Other individual assistance programs are available, regardless of citizenship status. Programs like the Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) and Disaster Legal Services (DLS). Other short-term, non-cash emergency help, like mass shelters, may also be available.

Voluntary Organizations

Voluntary organizations also offer help regardless of citizenship status. To find voluntary organizations in your disaster area:


Who can I call if I want to apply over the phone?

To apply for FEMA assistance over the phone, call the FEMA Helpline, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-621-3362 (711 or VRS available)
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

To find assistance from other agencies and learn how to apply, you have two options

  • Click Find Assistance from the Home page and answer the anonymous questionnaire.

    OR

  • Click Forms of Assistance under the Get Assistance menu of the Home page to search by category or federal agency.

To apply to other agencies, you will need to follow the instructions provided for each program. This may require going to other agency websites.

FEMA COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Helpline

To apply for COVID-19 Funeral Assistance, and for ALL other questions and concerns about this program, call 1-844-684-6333 (TTY 1-800-462-7585), Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET. Do not call the normal FEMA Helpline for help with this assistance.

You must apply by phone. FEMA will not accept online applications. Before you call, visit the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance page for more details.


After You Apply

How do I check the status of my application?

To check the status of your application you need to create an account first.

To begin creating an account:

  1. Click Check Status on the Home page or from the Get Assistance menu.
  2. Click Create Account.

Read How do I create an account to get further instructions.

You must have an email address to create your account. This is the only way we can send you a PIN and you need that to access your account.

If you already have an account:

  1. Click Check Status on the Home page or from the Get Assistance menu.
  2. Log in with your user ID, password, and PIN, and the one-time secure access code you will need to request.

    This will take you to the Your Application Status page.

If you aren’t sure if you finished your application, call the FEMA Helpline, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-621-3362 (711 or VRS available)
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

Is there a limit to the benefits I can get?

Benefit amounts and durations vary by agency and form of assistance, based on survivor need. You can find out what’s available by clicking Find Assistance on the Home page or under the Get Assistance menu and answering the questionnaire.

Limits

Some agencies have conditions or limits to the amount of assistance offered.

FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP) gives financial help or direct services to people with essential needs not met through other means. The maximum amount offered under IHP is set on an annual basis. Not everyone will qualify for the maximum.

IHP aid is supplemental and meant to help you restore your damaged property to a safe, sanitary, and usable condition. It does not take the place of insurance and will not restore the property to its condition before the disaster.

Proper Use

All money offered by FEMA is tax-free and you must use it as stated in your award letter. This includes renting another place to live, making repairs, or repairing or replacing personal property.

Failure to use the money as required may disqualify you from other assistance.

Insurance

By law, FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses covered by your insurance company. They can only help with confirmed losses that insurance did not cover. FEMA’s programs do not replace insurance. The help offered is not as complete as an insurance policy. They cannot cover all disaster-related losses.

Assistance Periods

Repair and Replacement Assistance issued is a one‐time payment.

Temporary Housing Assistance issued is for an initial period of one, two, or three months.

If you need further assistance, you must prove that you’ve spent any prior FEMA money as instructed. And you must show you have made efforts to get permanent housing.

Any Extended Temporary Housing Assistance issued is for one, two, or three months at a time.

The maximum period for IHP assistance is 18 months.


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

Yes. You do have the right to appeal if you don’t agree with FEMAʹs determination of eligibility or the assistance provided. You must appeal within 60 days of the date on your notification letter.

For information and tips on the appeals process, read FEMA Answers: Appeals Process Q&A and 7 Tips to Appeal a FEMA Decision.

You may also call the FEMA Helpline, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-621-3362 (711 or VRS available)
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

Does disaster assistance have to be repaid?

It depends on the type of assistance you received.

You don’t usually have to repay assistance from FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program (IHP). However, if you told FEMA there was a delay in your insurance settlement, any FEMA money issued to you would be an advance. You must repay this when you get your settlement.

Since IHP assistance is limited to helping people with essential needs, most disaster help from the federal government is through low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). You must repay those loans.


How can I report disaster fraud?

If you want to report suspicious activity or disaster fraud, you can find several contacts under the Disaster Fraud section of our Contact Us page.


Early Registration

My area is in the path of a pending disaster. Is there anything I can do here before it hits?

If your area is in the path of a pending disaster event, you may be able to start an application before it hits. We call this Early Registration.

Use the Look-up field on the Home page to see if Early Registration is open for your area. Or there may be a special banner posted on the Home page to let you know it’s open and for which areas.

If Early Registration open for your area, you may click Apply Online to start an application.


What is Early Registration?

Early Registration lets you start or complete an application for assistance before a disaster gets a federal declaration for Individual Assistance. You may only find it open for specific areas under one of two conditions:

  1. The area is in the path of a pending major disaster event.

    No disaster has hit yet but major damage is expected. In this case, the event could affect a large area. This would be an event like a Hurricane Katrina or Super Storm Sandy.

    You may start an application and create an account before the disaster hits. But you can’t submit it yet.

    You can enter things like your name, address, and insurance info. You just won’t be able to include damage detail, since you have none yet.

  2. A major disaster has hit the area; there is damage, but the disaster does not yet have a federal declaration.

    You may complete your application and include info about damage to your home and personal property. The system then holds your application and submits it for processing if the disaster is declared and includes your county.

You can use the Look-up on the Home page to see if your area is open for Early Registration. Or, in some cases, the Home page will display a banner that lists the active states or counties.

If Early Registration is open, you can click Apply Online to start your application.

We suggest that you create an account when you begin the Early Registration process. This will save you time and make it easier to get back to your application later.

Click Check Status from the Home page to create your account.

Once you have an account, you can log in, finish and submit your application, or check your status.


How will I know if I qualify for Early Registration?

Use the Look-up on the Home page to see if Early Registration is open for your area. In some cases, the Home page will display a banner that lists the active states or counties.

If your area isn’t currently active for Early Registration, or there is no banner posted, check back again later. Just remember, not all disasters are open for Early Registration.


If I use Early Registration, how will I know if the disaster is declared?

When you finish your Early Registration application, there’s an option to get email updates. Just select Yes and enter your email address. We will notify you if the disaster is declared.

If you don’t enter an email address, you’ll need to check back later to see if the disaster is declared and includes your county.


Does Early Registration automatically submit my application when the disaster is declared?

For some situations, yes, the system will automatically submit your application from Early Registration. But for some it will not.

Before the system can submit your application, the disaster declaration must name your county for Individual Assistance.

Why wouldn’t the system submit my application for me?

The system can’t submit your application automatically if you started it before a pending disaster. At that point, there was no damage to report to your home or personal property.

If the disaster does hit your area, and you do have damage to report, you must finish the application and add detail about the damage. Click Check Status from the Home page to create or log into your account. Once finished, you may submit your application.

When will the system automatically submit my application?

The system automatically submits your application if you completed it in Early Registration, after a disaster, and your county is included in a federal declaration.

Information about your home or personal property damage was included in your application, so you don’t need to do anything else.

What can I do if I can’t get online?

If you can’t create or access an online account, you must call the FEMA Helpline to finish your application, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET, 7 days a week. You need your Registration ID.

  • 1-800-621-3362 (711 or VRS available)
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

If you have technical problems accessing your account, or have a lost or forgotten user ID, password, or PIN, call the Internet Help Desk, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

  • 1-800-745-0243

Help desk staff cannot provide any information or help with your FEMA account or application. You must contact the FEMA Helpline or visit a DRC for account or application help.

What if my county isn’t declared?

If the disaster declaration doesn’t name your county for Individual Assistance, your state emergency management agency or office may be able to offer other help.

But it’s also possible that your county could be added to the declaration later. You can always come back to check the Look-up from our Home page to see if it’s been added.

You can also review your state website or FEMA's Disaster Declarations page.


What if I have questions about Early Registration?

If you have questions about Early Registration, you can call the FEMA Helpline, 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET, 7 days a week:

  • 1-800-621-3362 (711 or VRS available)
  • TTY 1-800-462-7585
  • If you use a relay service (a videophone, InnoCaption, CapTel, etc.), please provide your number assigned to that service. FEMA must be able to contact you. Be aware that phone calls from FEMA may appear to come from an unidentified number.

What if my county isn’t declared?

If the disaster declaration doesn’t name your county for Individual Assistance, your state emergency management agency or office may be able to offer other help.

But it’s also possible that your county could be added to the declaration later. You can always come back to check the Look-up from our Home page to see if it’s been added.

You can also review your state site or FEMA's Disaster Declarations page.


Last Updated: 09/17/2021