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Clearing Up a Few Questions on Federal Disaster Aid

In the past few days, we've heard questions about what percentage of funding FEMA covers for aid to disaster survivors and states when a presidential disaster declaration is approved for a given area.

As Administrator Fugate took a few minutes to explain, there is a difference between the "cost-share" or funding responsibility FEMA takes on for individual disaster survivors and for states.

If you are an individual living in a disaster area that has been approved for individual assistance, which can help cover repair or replacement costs for your home, FEMA covers the entire amount of aid you are eligible for. There is no "cost-share" – whatever the amount of aid you are awarded, which depends on your personal need and circumstances, is 100 percent funded by the federal government. For Other Needs Assistance, another type of individual aid which can cover other personal losses or basic needs like medical and dental assistance, funeral costs, clothing, household items or supplies for school or work, FEMA covers 75 percent of the costs and the state covers 25 percent of the costs.

Under federal law, for states and localities eligible for FEMA Public Assistance, there is a cost-share, or shared responsibility among the federal government and state. FEMA always covers a minimum of 75 percent of expenses for states that are declared eligible for this kind of assistance. That percentage may be adjusted to a greater amount based on the severity and the total cost of a disaster.

Public assistance covers needs like debris removal, emergency protective measures the state takes immediately during a disaster response (such as evacuations, equipment for first responders, or police barricades), and longer-term rebuilding of critical infrastructure, like schools, roads and firehouses, to name a few.

Again, it's important to remember that FEMA is just part of the team that provides resources for individuals, states and local governments following a disaster. There are many other types of aid that our federal partners and other members of the team, from voluntary agencies to private sector organizations, bring to bear -- and different rules may govern those types of aid. Additionally, FEMA Public Assistance cannot duplicate benefits and many times public entities do carry insurance. In the coming weeks, FEMA and the states will continue to meet with local jurisdictions to go over specific information on insurance coverage and needs.

And as Craig says, if you are an individual, the amount of aid you may receive may be different than your neighbor. Your eligibility for FEMA aid is always based on your unique situation and your unmet needs. And we work with you to determine how to best provide that assistance. We know this is an incredibly trying time for so many people, and we continue to encourage all survivors to register for FEMA assistance by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (TTY 1-800-462-7585), or by going online to or applying directly from your smartphone at

Last Updated: 
06/16/2012 - 19:59