Page last updated: 03/06/2023
One way the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) helps disaster survivors is by giving them money they can use to assist them with basic needs, such as housing. To get this support, you have to comply with the requirements of FEMA’s application process. You also should know how to file an appeal if FEMA rejects your application.
Legal aid offices provide low-income Americans with free legal assistance and may be able to help them file FEMA applications and appeal FEMA decisions.
If you are looking for help with a civil legal problem, use this tool to enter an address or city to find an LSC-funded legal aid organization near you.
Disaster survivors also can get free assistance with their applications at the Disaster Recovery Centers that FEMA opens in the area after the federal government declares a disaster.
FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) are accessible facilities and mobile offices you can visit to learn more about FEMA and other disaster assistance programs. You may also visit to ask questions about your case. The DRC Locator helps you find the hours, services, and locations of DRCs near you.
FEMA assistance becomes available when the president of the United States issues a major disaster declaration for an area, like a county. Assistance money is provided as a grant, which means you do not have to pay it back. However, you can spend the money only on the things FEMA allows it to be used for.
FEMA provides two types of financial assistance under its Individuals and Households Program:
The application process has many steps, but here are some critical points:
The FEMA Applications and Appeals quick guide describes frequently asked questions for the FEMA assistance process.
Experiencing a natural disaster is a difficult and traumatic experience. In addition to the emotional process of recovery, impacted individuals need to also navigate complex legal processes to repair their homes and replace their belongings.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides support after natural disasters but it can be difficult to navigate the deadlines for different FEMA programs and fulfill all the application requirements in order to successfully receive assistance. As individuals and families begin the recovery process, it’s important they know where to get support and which resources they are eligible to receive.
CUP collaborated with Pro Bono Net and designer Carmen Rosa Lopez to create Figuring Out FEMA, a pocket-sized guide that breaks down the process of enrolling in FEMA’s Individual Assistance program. It also explains how to appeal FEMA’s decision if you are denied aid or need more assistance and explains your rights when interacting with FEMA.
Click on the link to download the pamphlet for free or to order printed copies.
Due to the COVID-19 nationwide emergency declared by Former President Trump and the need to protect the safety and health of all Americans; FEMA will conduct remote home inspections for disaster survivors until further notice.
This fact sheet provides information about that process. It includes links to PDF and plain text versions.
As of June 1, 2022, FEMA is beginning to transition back to in- home inspections. Remote inspections may still occur if conditions make them necessary again.