3 Steps to Filing for Federal Disaster Relief

Federal Disaster Relief is available after the President issues a disaster declaration for your area. If your area has been declared a disaster, here are some things experts suggest you should know before you call for relief.

Before You Call for Federal Disaster Relief

  1. Be sure the President has issued a disaster declaration for your area. Click here to see if your area has been declared for Individual Assistance or go to FEMA’s (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Disaster Declarations page to see a current list.
  2. Begin the process by registering online or by calling call FEMA’s toll-free number: 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) (TTY 1-800-462-7585).

Gather the Following Information

  1. Evaluate immediate emergency needs so you can be directed to the appropriate agencies/services.
  2. Social Security Number (SSN).
    • If you are calling for someone else, you’ll be asked your name and SSN, plus the name and SSN for who you are calling for.
  3. Phone, address and directions to the damaged property.
    • NOTE: If you are not living at the damaged property, give two telephone numbers where you can be reached.
  4. Know the best time to reach you.
    • This is very important because the damage verifier may be difficult to contact if you need to call back.
  5. A general idea of the damage – home, personal property, etc.
  6. Car damage? Have the name of the title holder, and the car’s year, model and make.
  7. If the loss is to a business, what type of business?
  8. Date of loss—month and day(s)
  9. General financial information
    • Current gross family income
    • Bank account coding if you wish to speed up your assistance with direct deposit
  10. Insurance information:
    • Do you have flood insurance, a homeowner’s or a dwelling policy?
    • What are the amounts of insurance coverage?
    • What is the name of the insurance company?
    • What is the insurance agent’s name? What’s the agent’s best contact phone number?

Know the Types of Federal/State Disaster Assistance

You may qualify for one, some, or none of the following:

  1. Disaster housing assistance: Provides a safe place to live until repairs to home are complete
  2. Disaster loans: For replacing personal property and repairing your home
  3. Individual and family grants: Provides funds for expenses and serious needs; for those with no other financial resources or unable to qualify for an SBA disaster loan (which are available only to those meeting income requirements)
  4. Income tax deductions: To file an amended tax return for past year for partial refund for uninsured casualty losses
  5. Counseling: For help with unemployment, food stamps, income taxes, insurance claims, legal issues, veterans benefits and crisis counseling
  6. Flood-proofing assistance: For additional money to cover certain flood-proofing costs

For More Information

American Red Cross — The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being.