FEMA Disaster Assistance

When a state, territorial, or tribal government (STTL) determines an incident exceeds their capability to respond, the Governor or Tribal Chief Executive may request a declaration from the President through FEMA. The President may provide federal assistance when the magnitude or threat of an incident exceeds the affected state, territorial, tribal, or local government’s capability to respond or recover. For FEMA to provide supplemental federal assistance, the President must declare that an emergency or major disaster exists.
The Individual Assistance mission ensures disaster survivors have timely access to a full range of authorized programs and services to maximize recovery through partnered coordination of STTL governments, as well as other federal agencies, non-governmental organizations and the private sector.

Individual Assistance Programs

FEMA assists individuals and households through the coordination and delivery of Individual Assistance programs including:

  • Mass Care and Emergency Assistance (MC/EA): Mass Care is composed of seven services known as activities: sheltering; feeding; distribution of emergency supplies; support for individuals with disabilities and others with access and functional needs; reunification services for adults and children; support for household pets, service, and assistance animals; and mass evacuee support. In addition to the seven aforementioned activities, MC/EA also supports the National Mass Care Exercise (NMCE) training program and offers partnerships through the following programs: Blue Roof Program and Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA).
  • Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP): CCP provides eligible STTLs governments, and non-governmental organizations with supplemental funding to assist disaster-impacted individuals and communities in recovering from the major disasters through the provision of community-based outreach and psycho-educational services. The goal is to aid survivors in recovering from the adverse reactions to disasters and to begin to rebuild their lives.
  • Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA): DUA provides unemployment benefits and re-employment assistance services to eligible survivors affected by a Presidentially-declared
    major disaster. These services are under the responsibility of the U.S. Department of Labor and administered by the state, territorial, tribal, and local government emergency management officials of the affected area(s). DUA is only available to those eligible survivors who are not eligible for regular state unemployment insurance (UI).
  • Disaster Legal Services (DLS): DLS provides legal aid to survivors affected by a Presidentially-declared major disaster through an agreement with the Young Lawyers Division (YLD) of the American Bar Association. DLS is put into effect during Presidentially-declared disasters and is available to survivors who qualify as low-income.
  • Disaster Case Management (DCM): DCM is a time-limited process that promotes partnership between a case manager and a disaster survivor in order to assess and address a survivor’s verified disaster-caused unmet needs through a disaster recovery plan. This disaster recovery plan includes resources, decision-making priorities, providing guidance and tools to assist disaster survivors.
  • Individuals and Households Program (IHP): IHP Assistance provides financial assistance and direct services to eligible individuals and households who have uninsured or underinsured necessary expenses and serious needs. IHP Assistance is not a substitute for insurance and cannot compensate for all losses caused by a disaster; it is intended to meet basic needs and supplement disaster recovery efforts. IHP Assistance is not considered income or a resource when determining eligibility for welfare, income assistance, or income- tested benefit programs that the federal government funds, such as Social Security benefits or disability income. IHP Assistance is also exempt from garnishment or seizure, but this exception does not apply to FEMA recovering assistance received in error or


Individual Assistance Service Delivery Channels

FEMA offers disaster survivors multiple options to access Individual Assistance. Survivors may receive information and services through:

  • Internet or Smartphone Application: Disaster survivors may apply for IHP Assistance or check their application status on-line at disasterassistance.gov. Disaster survivors may also access FEMA via smartphone by downloading the application from www.fema.gov or through their mobile provider’s application store.
  • FEMA Toll-Free Helpline: Disaster survivors may call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585) to register for assistance or check their application status. Those who use a relay service such as a videophone, InnoCaption or CapTel should update FEMA with their specific number assigned to that
  • Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs): Disaster survivors may apply for assistance in person at DRCs in or near their communities. DRCs are usually opened quickly after a disaster for a limited period of time. They are accessible and equipped to accommodate disaster survivors who need disability- related communication aids. FEMA staff can assist with completing registrations or checking their application status. FEMA coordinates with the state, territorial, tribal, or local government to establish DRC
  • Disaster Survivor Assistance (DSA) Teams:
  • FEMA may send staff into the affected communities to help disaster survivors apply for IHP assistance. FEMA may also coordinate with the state, territorial, tribal, or local government to send staff into emergency shelters to assist survivors. FEMA staff are equipped with computers or similar devices to assist survivors with registering for IHP Assistance or provide them referrals to other

Because FEMA’s programs are not designed to make a survivor whole, we encourage a whole community approach to disaster recovery by engaging the full capacity of non-governmental organizations and the private sector, including businesses, faith-based and disability organizations, and the general public, in conjunction with the participation of state, territorial, tribal, or local government, as well as other federal agency partners.

FEMA’s Mission: Helping people before, during, and after disasters.