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Eligibility Criteria for FEMA Assistance


Recently, we have seen a lot of questions and news coverage about why tornado survivors in Alabama may or may not be receiving federal aid assistance. Disaster survivors in Alabama and other parts of the nation have been through a lot, and we’re working hard to ensure that everyone who is eligible for federal assistance gets the help they need.

We’ve spoken before about questions regarding federal disaster assistance. However, we wanted to take a moment to explain FEMA disaster assistance eligibility. Individuals and families in a declared area whose essential property has been damaged or destroyed and whose losses are not covered by insurance, are eligible for disaster assistance. Eligibility criteria are set by law and are the same for all disasters, no matter where you live. For example, under federal law we cannot duplicate benefits. If individuals already have insurance that will cover the damages, this may impact their eligibility for federal disaster aid.

Because several factors are considered when determining eligibility, we encourage all disaster survivors to apply for aid. You may be eligible for more than you realize, so it’s worth it to apply. If you apply for federal assistance and are eligible, you will receive assistance. Also, keep in mind that the status of federal funding for disasters will not impact how many people are eligible for assistance.

The bottom line is eligibility criteria for FEMA assistance is the same across the board – for all survivors and all disasters.

To learn more about eligibility criteria, survivors can visit // or call the helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Survivors who have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY can call 1-800-462-7585 directly; those who use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), can call 1-800-621-3362. They can also visit a disaster recovery center, where they can talk with someone who can help determine the best course of action for recovery.

Survivors in Alabama and in other states across the country have been through a lot, and we are committed to helping them every step of the way.

Last Updated: 
06/18/2012 - 22:00


The big IF! IA is only available for 27.3% of declared major disasters in 2011 as of 7/22/11. With the legal criteria applied nationally a lot fewer that 27.3% of individual disaster survivors get any assistance.

I live in Pocahontas County, WV. The bridge utilized by seven residences to gain access to State Route 39/92 crossing Laurel Creek was severely undermined by flood waters. I called FEMA to get assistance to professionally evaluate the current condition of the bridge for safe passage. I was denied, because this is my second home, which I fell that that has no bearing on the situation. It is not my bridge, but our bridge, its not my personal property. Besides, I thought FEMA helped everyone and did not discriminate against what you own, the flood didn't, and I thought that's what FEMA was designed for. The neighbors are reactive not proactive, which I'm proactive. The situation is placing my very livelihood in the hands people that often do nothing but complain. However, if that's a fact, I am requesting a waiver of that requirement.

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