How to Apply for FEMA Assistance

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab

Getting Started

Getting Started by Applying for FEMA Assistance

To fill out an application online, start by going to https://www.disasterassistance.gov/ and click “apply online.”

*You’ll be asked a CAPTCHA question to prove that you are not a robot

NOTE: You will be given details about the application process - including the information needed to complete the application. To complete registration as fast a possible, have this information ready before you begin the application

FEMA Application Step-by-step Guide

To begin the application, you will be asked to check the box to accept the Privacy Act Statement and Declaration of Eligibility. This essentially means that you agree: to the government accessing your records and information and also that you are a US citizen, qualified alien of the US, or parent of either.

You will need to fill out some identifying information, including your social security number. 

You will then be asked if you have any communication/language accommodation needs to communicate with FEMA regarding your application. Click “yes.” if this applies to you. If not, click “no”

FEMA can accommodate you if you are bilingual or need an alternate format such as Braille or large print font. 

Then you will be asked if you have a disability that requires an assistive device (i.e. wheelchair, hearing aid, service animal, etc) and if that device was damaged or disrupted because of the disaster. If this applies to you, answer “yes.” If not, click “no”

Fill in your contact information. Be sure to include your email so you may check the status of your application online

Fill in the address of the residence that was damaged or that you were displaced from during evacuation and then choose the parish in which this residence is located

On the next screen, the name of the disaster event should automatically pop up under “Description of Disaster.” Fill in the dot and click “next.”

Clarify what type of damage occurred to your residence. You must choose at least one damage type to move on with the application. If you are not sure, or if your home was not damaged but you are seeking critical funds for evacuation expenses, and rental assistance, choose the hurricane option.

Next, you’ll be asked some questions about property damage. In order to qualify for aid through FEMA, you must answer “yes” or “unknown” to questions regarding damage to your home and property.

Note: If you answer no, you will likely not qualify for any assistance through FEMA.

Next, some questions about your residence and where you are staying now.

Note: If you chose “unsure” in the previous section, make sure to mark that you are unable to return to your home in this section.

Then you will be asked insurance questions. If you have insurance, you should file a claim with your insurance company immediately. FEMA assistance cannot aid with losses already covered by insurance.

Note: If you have been denied by your insurance company you should submit your denial letter to FEMA

Next, you can specify if you have immediate needs for expenses related to evacuation i.e. gas, medication, clothing, etc. If your residence in New Orleans is uninhabitable (due to damage or power outages), “I have a disaster-related emergency need for shelter” applies to you.

Then they will ask to clarify the occupants of your household. If you are unsure, click “help” for more information.

Note: If you have roommates that have also applied for FEMA assistance using the same address, you may need to call FEMA to apply

Next, if you are self-employed or own a business/rental property, click “yes,” if no, click “no”

Then fill in questions about your financial situation.

You will likely receive funds more quickly if you agree to have funds directly deposited into your bank account. If you’ve chosen direct deposit through your bank, you’ll be asked to fill out the information about your bank account

Lastly, fill out how you would like to be contacted and verify your identity 

After you apply

I have applied for assistance. What's next?

If you have insurance you should file a claim with your insurance company when you apply for assistance from FEMA

  • FEMA cannot aid with losses already covered by insurance
  • If your insurance does not cover all your losses or is delayed, you may be eligible for FEMA assistance regarding your unmet needs

You should create an online FEMA Disaster Assistance Center (DAC) account at DisasterAssistance.gov. You will be instructed to create a unique PIN for secure access to your disaster assistance application information. 

Here is what you can do within your online account: 

  • Review your disaster assistance application information
  • Provide updates pertaining to your personal information and needs
  • View letters and messages sent to you by FEMA
  • Get details on additional documents that FEMA needs to process your assistance
  • Upload documents to your file
  • Review information that FEMA has received from you

FEMA is required to verify you lived at the address in your application as your primary residence before providing assistance. FEMA will try to verify occupancy and ownership by using an automated public records search. You will be asked to provide documents to prove occupancy and/or ownership of the home listed in your application if FEMA cannot verify you lived in or owned the home. 

Click HERE to view a list of approved documents to verify your homeownership and/or occupancy. 

The easiest way to submit documentation to FEMA is to use your account at DisasterAssistance.gov 

Alternatively, FEMA has documentation drop-off centers where you can apply for assistance, ask questions, and have your documents scanned into your case file

Click HERE to find a disaster recovery and document drop-off center 

Like your homeowner and occupancy verification, if FEMA is unable to verify your identity during the application process, you will be required to submit supporting documents.

Supporting documents for identity verification

(1) To verify your identity, send FEMA any of these documents:

  • Documentation from the Social Security Administration, or other federal entity, containing the full or last four digits of your Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Social Security card if sent with a federal or state-issued identification
  • Employer’s payroll document containing full or last four digits of your SSN
  • Military identification
  • Marriage license to confirm proof of maiden name
  • U.S. passport

(2) If you applied for assistance on behalf of a U.S. minor (child) citizen for your household, you must send FEMA the following: 

  • Any of the documents listed above, if in the child’s name OR
  • Child’s birth certificate AND a copy of the child’s Social Security card or documentation from the Social Security Administration, or other federal entity, containing the full or last four digits of the child’s SSN

FEMA may determine that an inspection is needed to verify disaster-related damage to your home and personal property after reviewing your application. Typically, if you reported on the application that you can live in your home, FEMA will send you a letter explaining how to call the FEMA Helpline to request an inspection if you find significant disaster-related damage to your home after you applied. 

Last Review and Update: Oct 18, 2022
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