Main Content

U.S. Citizens, ‘Qualified Aliens, Non-Citizen Nationals’ Should Register With FEMA for Disaster Help

Release date: 
June 20, 2016
Release Number: 

AUSTIN, Texas – Survivors of the May floods may be eligible for disaster assistance if they have a Social Security number or permanent residency card (green card) or if a minor child who lives in the household has a Social Security number.

What this means: Parents or guardians of minors living in the household during the May storms are encouraged to register for assistance using the child’s Social Security number.

If, however, the minor child does not have a Social Security number, a parent or guardian can obtain the number for the child and will be considered for assistance by registering with FEMA within 60 days of the disaster declaration date.

To be considered for assistance, at least one person in the household must be a U.S. citizen or by legal definition a “qualified alien” or “non-citizen national” with a Social Security number. A ‘qualified alien’ includes, but is not limited to, someone who holds permanent residency, refugee, or asylum status. “Non-citizen nationals” are citizens of the U.S. territories.

If a parent or guardian registers with FEMA on behalf of a child living in the household, FEMA does not collect information on the immigration status of other household members.

Once registered, FEMA disaster recovery specialists can supply contacts for other programs—those operated by volunteer organizations such as the American Red Cross—that may be able to help.

An applicant’s information is confidential. FEMA shares that information only with the state and designated agencies that provide disaster assistance. Disaster recovery assistance is also available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status.

The 12 counties that sustained damage or loss from the severe storms and flooding that began May 26 are: Austin, Brazoria, Brazos, Fort Bend, Grimes, Hidalgo, Hood, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Travis, Waller and Washington.

Disaster survivors may register the following ways:

  • online at
  • phone 800-621-3362 (FEMA). Persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY may call 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay Service may also call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

Disaster assistance may include FEMA grants to help pay for temporary housing and essential home repairs. Homeowners and renters may also be eligible for FEMA’s “Other Needs Assistance” program. “Other Needs” grants help survivors with uninsured or underinsured expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster, including:

  • child care

  • moving and storage expenses

  • disaster-related funeral and burial expenses

  • disaster-related dental and medical expenses such as canes, wheelchairs and prescriptions

  • repair or replacement of personal property lost or damaged in the storm, including furniture and appliances, job-related tools and equipment required by the self-employed

  • vehicles

FEMA grants do not have to be repaid. FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits.

For households where no one is eligible for federal disaster assistance, help may be available from voluntary agencies by calling 211, a statewide information and referral service. Anyone using a relay service should call 877-541-7905.

Survivors should register even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but underinsured applicants may receive help after their claims been settled.

For more information on the Texas recovery, visit the disaster webpage for the May storms at /disaster/4272; or visit the Texas Division of Emergency Management website at Follow us on Twitter @femaregion6.

# # #

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Download to locate open shelters and disaster recovery centers, receive severe weather alerts, safety tips and much more.

Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:03