This page provides information regarding forms of assistance that may be available to disaster survivors. Please note that not all programs are available for all disasters. Additionally, some programs require an approved application from an impacted State/Tribe.
- Individual Disaster Assistance
- Small Business Administration Disaster Loans
- Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program
- Disaster Case Management
- Disaster Unemployment Assistance
- Legal Services
- Special Tax Considerations
Additional Forms of Assistance
- Visit DisasterAssistance.gov for additional forms of assistance.
Small Business Administration
The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers several types of low interest disaster loans including:
- Home and Personal Property Loans—Homeowners may apply for up to $200,000 to replace or repair their primary residence.
- Business Physical Disaster Loans—The SBA makes physical disaster loans of up to $2 million to qualified businesses or most private nonprofit organizations.
- Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)—The SBA can provide up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred.
- Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL)—The SBA provides funds to help an eligible small business meet its ordinary and necessary operating expenses that it could have met, but is unable to, because an essential employee was called-up to active duty in his or her role as a military reservist.
Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) implements the Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program (CCP) as supplemental assistance available to states, locals, tribes, and territories. Section 416 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 93-288, as amended, 42 U.S.C. 5183, authorizes FEMA to fund mental health assistance and training activities in areas that have received a Presidential major disaster declaration that includes Individual Assistance (IA). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) works with FEMA through an interagency agreement to provide technical assistance, consultation, grant administration, program oversight, and training for state mental health authorities and designated tribal authorities.
The mission of the CCP is to assist individuals and communities in recovering from the psychological effects of natural and human-caused disasters through the provision of community-based outreach and educational services. The CCP supports short-term interventions that promote counseling goals to assist disaster survivors in understanding their current situation and reactions, mitigating stress, reviewing their disaster recovery options, promoting the use or development of coping strategies, providing emotional support, and encouraging links with other individuals and agencies who may help survivors in their recovery process (recover to their pre-disaster level of functioning).
Supplemental funding for crisis counseling is available to states, local, tribes, and territories’ mental health authorities and designated tribal authorities through two grant mechanisms:
- Immediate Services Program (ISP) provides funds for up to 60 days of services immediately following the approval of IA for a disaster; and
- Regular Services Program (RSP) provides funds for up to nine months from the date of the notice of award.
While SAMHSA provides technical assistance for an ISP, the monitoring responsibility remains with FEMA. FEMA has designated SAMHSA as the authority responsible for monitoring all RSP programs.
The CCP is guided by the following key principles:
Strengths Based – CCP services promote resilience, empowerment, and recovery.
Diagnosis-Free – Crisis counselors do not classify, label, or diagnose people; no records or case files are kept.
Outreach Oriented – Crisis counselors deliver services in the communities rather than waiting for survivors to seek their assistance.
Culturally Sensitive – The CCP model embraces cultural and spiritual diversity as reflective in culturally relevant outreach activities that represent the communities served.
Flexible – Services may be conducted in nontraditional settings, crisis counselors make contact in homes and communities, not in clinical or office settings.
Builds local capacity – Services are designed to strengthen existing community support systems, the CCP supplements, but does not supplant or replace, existing community systems.
More Practical than Psychological – Crisis counselors help survivors in developing a plan to address self-identified needs and suggest connections with other individuals or organizations who can assist them.
Unified Identity – The CCP strives to be a single, easily identifiable program, with services delivered by various local agencies.
Disaster Case Management
The Disaster Case Management Program (DCMP) is a federally funded grant program authorized by Section 426 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (Stafford Act), as amended, (42 U.S.C. § 5189d) and administred by FEMA. In the event of a Presidentially declared disaster which includes Individual Assistance, the Governor of the impacted State may request the implementation of the DCMP. The DCMP provides funding and technical assistance to ensure the delivery of holistic services to disaster survivors and promotes:
- Effective delivery of post-disaster case management services
- Partner integration
- Provider capacity building
- State level program development.
DCMP is a time-limited process that involves a partnership between a case manager and a disaster survivor to develop and carry out a Disaster Recovery Plan. This partnership provides the survivor with a single point of contact to facilitate access to a broad range of resources.
The DCMP process involves:
- An assessment of the survivor’s verified disaster-caused unmet needs
- Development of a goal-oriented plan that outlines the steps necessary to achieve recovery
- Organization and coordination of information on available resources that match the disaster-caused need,
- Monitoring of progress toward reaching the recovery plan goals, and
- Client advocacy, when necessary.
DCMP, in partnership with the affected State or Tribe, enables a whole community approach through funding support to voluntary, faith-based and nonprofit organizations.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) program is available to states, local, tribal, and territorial governments to provide unemployment benefits and reemployment services to individuals who have become unemployed as a result of a Presidential disaster declaration approved for Individual Assistance (IA) and who are not eligible for regular State Unemployment Insurance (UI).
FEMA has delegated to the Secretary of Labor the responsibility of administering section 410 of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, Public Law 93-288, 42 U.S.C. 5177, as amended, which pertains to the DUA program and payment of DUA benefit assistance.
Following a Presidentially declared disaster, FEMA provides funds for the payment of benefits and reimburses the state for its administrative costs. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) oversees the DUA program in coordination with FEMA. DUA is administered by the State UI agency which issues a press release throughout the declared disaster area announcing DUA availability.
Duration of Assistance
DUA benefits are generally paid for up to 26 weeks beginning with the first week following the date the major disaster began, and ending with the 26th week following the date the major disaster is declared by the President, as long as the individual’s unemployment continues to be a direct result of the disaster
This fact sheet outlines general information pertaining to the requirements and conditions under which an individual may be eligible for DUA. For additional information concerning the DUA program, individuals may contact the DOL at 1-866-487-2365 or their local State UI agency.
Disaster Legal Services
When the President declares a disaster, FEMA, through an agreement with the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, provides free legal help to survivors of that disaster through the request of the state, local, tribe, or territory. Disaster Legal Services (DLS) provides confidential legal assistance to low-income individuals who, prior to or because of the disaster, are unable to secure legal services adequate to meet their disaster-related needs. DLS is only provided for survivors of Presidentially declared major disasters that include Individual Assistance (IA).
DLS attorneys are volunteers who offer their time and talents to provide free legal services to disaster survivors; they are not FEMA employees, and any services or conversations that occur between a survivor and one of the attorneys are confidential and will not be shared with FEMA. If volunteer attorneys are unable to assist survivors with their legal needs due to topic and/or time that would generate a fee, survivors will be referred to independent attorneys who can provide pro-bono or low cost services through the lawyer referral network in the impacted area.
The following are the types of disaster legal assistance local lawyers typically provide:
- Help with insurance claims for doctor and hospital bills, loss of property, loss of life, etc.
- Drawing up new wills and other legal papers lost in the disaster
- Help with home repair contracts and contractors
- Advice on problems with landlords
- Estate administration, including guardianships and conservatorships
- Consumer protection matters, remedies, and procedures
- Preparing powers of attorney and guardianship materials
- FEMA appeals and other disaster-related actions against the government
Special Tax Considerations
Taxpayers who have sustained a casualty (sudden, unexpected or unusual) loss from a declared disaster may deduct that loss on the federal income tax return for the year in which the casualty actually occurred, or elect to deduct the loss on the tax return for the preceding tax year. In order to deduct a casualty loss, the amount of the loss must exceed 10 percent of the adjusted gross income for the tax year by at least $100. If the loss was sustained from a federally declared disaster, the taxpayer may choose which of those two tax years provides the better tax advantage.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can expedite refunds due to taxpayers in a federally declared disaster area. An expedited refund can be a relatively quick source of cash, does not need to be repaid, and does not need an Individual Assistance declaration. It is available to any taxpayer in a federally declared disaster area. Depending upon the circumstances the IRS may grant additional time to file returns and pay taxes. Publication Number 2194 'Disaster Loss Kit' can be ordered from the United States Internal Revenue Services as a resource guide.