Finding Relief If You Have Been Affected By A Disaster

    If you live in an area that was affected by a hurricane, wildfire, or another disaster, you may be able to get special assistance. You can visit www.disasterassistance.gov to find out what kinds of federal help is available, apply for assistance, and to later check the status of your application.

Types of Benefits Available in an Area Declared a Disaster

    Housing & Shelter Assistance

    • Emergency Shelters may be available if you need to evacuate your home because of a natural disaster. To find shelters in your area, visit the Red Cross or the Salvation Army, or text the word SHELTER and your zip code to: 4FEMA (43362) (standard text message rates apply). To get immediate assistance in your area, you can also call the FEMA helpline at: (800) 621-3362 or (800) 462-7585 (TTY) or go to: www.fema.gov/individual-disaster-assistance.
    • Transitional Shelter Assistance (TSA) Program helps you if you cannot return to your home after shelters have closed because of loss or damage. This program provides temporary assistance and helps pay for the cost of a hotel room while you look for long-term housing. To learn more about the program and whether you may qualify, go to: www.fema.gov/transitional-shelter-assistance. To find a hotel that participates in this program, go to: www.femaevachotels.com.
    • Mortgage Forbearance may be available if you live in an area affected by a hurricane (or other disaster) and you are having trouble making your mortgage payments. This means that you may be able to temporarily stop making mortgage payments without going into foreclosure. The payments are generally postponed, not forgiven. In addition, late fees may also be waived. Call your mortgage servicer (the company you send your mortgage payments) to see if they can work with you.

    Nutrition Assistance

    • Food Banks may be able to provide immediate food assistance. Feeding America can help you find a food bank in your area if you have an urgent need. Go to: www.feedingamerica.org and enter your zip code.
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) may provide additional benefits if you are already enrolled and you live in an area affected by a disaster. Benefits may be available early or they may be increased to help you replace lost food. You may also be able to use your Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card to buy hot meals and other foods that are normally not allowed. For more information or to find out how to apply, call your state hotline.
    • Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (D-SNAP) provides emergency food benefits if your area is a presidentially-declared disaster area and your state is offering the assistance. The eligibility standards are different than regular SNAP. If you qualify, you will get an EBT card to use at grocery stores. For more information, go to: www.disasterassistance.gov or call your state hotline.

    Health Care

    • Health Plans may offer special assistance in your area when there is a natural disaster. Many health plans provide special hotlines, relax requirements for referrals, let members refill their prescriptions early, and/or allow members to go to providers who are out of their service area or network. You should check with your health plan to see how they can help you.
    • Medicaid may offer an extension so that you can complete your annual or monthly Medicaid renewal or certification if you live in an area that was impacted by a disaster. Please contact your local Medicaid office to see if you may be eligible for an extension.
    • Medicare may offer an extension during the annual enrollment period if you live in an area that has been declared a disaster by FEMA or the person who assists you with your health care decisions lives in such an area. You may be able to enroll or make changes to your plan beyond the normal enrollment period. Call (800) MEDICARE to find out if you qualify.
    • Federal Health Insurance Exchange may offer an extended enrollment period to people who live in or moved from an area affected by a disaster. Whether you qualify depends on when you experienced the event that triggered a special enrollment period and when you were impacted by a disaster. Call the Exchange Call Center at: (800) 318-2596 to learn more or to enroll.

    Unemployment Assistance

    • Disaster Unemployment Assistance is temporary assistance that may be available if you lost your job as a direct result of a presidentially-declared disaster and you are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits. In some cases, you may be eligible if you are a seasonal worker. For more information, go to: www.disasterassistance.gov. To apply, please contact your state unemployment agency.

    Tax Relief

    • IRS Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief can help you if you live in certain states affected by a disaster, especially if your location is declared a major disaster area. To get more information, go to: www.irs.gov for advice and information about how to claim disaster-related losses, whether you can take extra time to file your tax returns, and so on.
    • Property Tax Relief may also be available. Please contact your local tax office for more information.

    Energy Assistance

    • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Disaster Relief may be available in your area to help pay for your home energy needs and energy-related home repairs or installations. To find out if your state offers LIHEAP Disaster Relief and the type of help available, find the agency that provides LIHEAP assistance such as your local Department of Human Services (DHS), Community Action Agency, or Area Agency on Aging (AAA).

    Legal Assistance

    • State Bar Associations can provide you with disaster response resources. You may also be able to get free legal assistance from attorneys who can help you get FEMA benefits, make insurance claims (including life, medical, and property), deal with home repair contractors, and other disaster-related assistance. To search for your state bar association, go to: https://www.americanbar.org/directories/bar-associations.html.

    Additional Disaster Relief Resources

    • The Red Cross has resources and advice for recovering from a disaster, including home safety, emotional well-being, and financial recovery.
    • The Disaster Distress Helpline, offered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, offers a crisis hotline twenty four hours a day, seven days per week. If you are experiencing distress related to a disaster, you can call the helpline at: (800) 985-5990.
    • FEMA Resources for People with Disabilities has information and resources about disaster recovery specifically for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs. You can find videos about registering for disaster assistance, housing assistance, and other helpful topics. The videos have both audio and American Sign Language (ASL).
    • The U.S. Small Business Administration offers low interest disaster loans to help you rebuild and replace homes and businesses that were damaged or destroyed in an area that was declared a disaster. To get more information, you can go to the U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Disaster Assistance at: www.sba.gov and click on the “Loans & Grants” tab.

    You can also get help and find benefit programs that provide you with cash assistance and other help by using BenefitsCheckUp.org. By answering a few questions, you can get a list of benefit programs that can help you pay for medications, food, utilities, and more. You will have access to program guidelines, websites, online forms (if available), paper application in various languages (if available), and other resources.