Frequently Asked Questions About Disasters

This page offers answers to frequently asked questions about Individual Assistance for disaster survivors.

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

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What assistance does FEMA provide?

Through the Individuals and Households Program, FEMA may provide the following assistance for eligible expenses and losses that are not covered by insurance or any other source:

  • Lodging Expense Reimbursement: Money to reimburse for hotels, motels, or other short-term lodging if you are temporarily displaced by the disaster.
  • Rental Assistance:  Money to rent alternate housing accommodations if you can no longer occupy your primary residence due to disaster-related damage  
  • Direct Temporary Housing Assistance: Direct assistance which FEMA may deliver through providing Temporary Housing Units, Multi-Family Lease and Repair, or Direct Lease. Direct Temporary Housing Assistance is authorized on a disaster-by-disaster basis and may not always be available.
  • Home Repair/Replacement Assistance: If you are a homeowner and lived in the home at the time of the disaster, money to repair your disaster damaged primary residence, utilities, and residential infrastructure, or to help replace your primary residence when the residence is destroyed
  • Personal Property Assistance:  Money to repair or replace your essential personal property damaged by the disaster
  • Transportation Assistance: Money for your vehicle damaged by the disaster when you do not have another working vehicle available to you
  • Medical and Dental Assistance: Money for your medical and dental expenses caused by the disaster
  • Funeral Assistance: Money for your disaster-caused funeral expenses
  • Child Care Assistance: Money for your disaster-caused child care expenses
  • Assistance for Miscellaneous Items: Money for certain eligible items you purchased or rented after the disaster to assist with recovery
  • Group Flood Insurance Policy: A flood insurance policy FEMA purchases on your behalf if you are required to purchase and maintain flood insurance but are determined unable to purchase a policy on your own
What can lead to a “not approved” decision?

Many times, an application is determined to be “not approved” because of a missing document. Examples include:

  • Copy of your insurance settlement pertaining to disaster-caused damage.
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of occupancy
  • Proof of ownership
  • Proof the damaged property was your primary residence when the disaster occurred.

FEMA informs all applicants who are not approved via letter. Please read the letter carefully and submit any additional required information as instructed by the letter. The letter will provide details on the documents that FEMA accepts.

If you have questions about FEMA letters, you may go online to or call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.

I applied to FEMA and was told that an inspector will schedule a visit to my home. Why do I need an inspection and what does a FEMA inspector look for?

FEMA home inspections help determine whether a home is safe, sanitary, and livable, and to verify disaster-caused damage. Specifically, the FEMA inspector will:

  • Verify your name, address, contact information, and insurance;
  • Confirm the individuals living in your disaster-damaged residence; bedrooms occupied; clothing, medical, dental, transportation, or miscellaneous losses; and items you purchased as a result of the disaster (e.g., chainsaw, dehumidifier);
  • Assess your pre-disaster residence’s structure, furniture, and appliances for damage caused by the disaster, as well as undamaged items;
  • Document your pre-disaster residence’s square footage, foundation, and structural type (e.g., one or multiple stories). Record the cause of damage, applicable water levels, impacted utilities, and accessibility features; and
  • Confirm with you all damage has been viewed, and describe next steps in the FEMA process.

Not all losses require an inspection. You should also monitor your mail or your FEMA Online Account ( and respond to any requests from FEMA for additional information quickly.

Why did I receive a loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration?

After applying, you may be referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for an SBA disaster assistance loan as part of the disaster assistance process.

FEMA works with SBA to determine if you should get money for personal property or transportation assistance from FEMA or SBA. FEMA is not allowed to provide money for these losses to people who may qualify for an SBA loan.

FEMA will automatically refer you to SBA to be considered for a disaster loan if you meet SBA’s income standards. FEMA will use your household annual gross income and number of dependents to determine if it will refer you to SBA.

You don’t have to accept an SBA loan offer; however, if you are approved and you do not accept it, you will not be referred back to FEMA for personal property or transportation assistance. You can call FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 if you have additional questions or need more information.  

Last updated September 27, 2022