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Generally, people must apply as soon as possible within sixty days for FEMA assistance either by calling 800-621-FEMA (6632) (TTY: 800-462-7585) or by submitting an online application at Depending on the type of disaster, FEMA may set up disaster recovery centers throughout the affected area and people can apply for FEMA assistance in-person. The sixty-day deadline may be extended several times by FEMA, and generally notices of extension are published in the Federal Register.61

Clients should be encouraged to apply for FEMA assistance; they can decline the offered assistance if they do not need it. Even if a client does not require financial aid from FEMA immediately after the disaster, or does not think they will, the application registration number itself is often necessary for yet-to-be-announced assistance in the future. Many federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds that provide money for home rebuilding will require a FEMA application number as a mandatory eligibility factor. State and local programs that provide funds for mortgage or rent assistance, replacement of appliances, and other necessities also may require a FEMA application number. This can be important because even if a person was not directly affected by the disaster initially, the person may later need disaster unemployment assistance or other disaster-specific financial assistance. The FEMA registration number may be required to qualify.


  • 61 44 U.S.C. § 1505(b); 44 C.F.R. § 206.112(a), (b).