Timelines to Submit Declaration Request for the Individual Assistance Program

The Stafford Act recognizes that primary responsibility for emergency management is at the local level; thus, Stafford Act assistance is intended to be available only as a supplement to other governmental and non-governmental resources. The Act instructs Governors to base their declaration requests on the finding that the disaster is of such severity and magnitude that effective response is beyond the capabilities of the State and the affected local governments and that Federal assistance is necessary. The Stafford Act is not intended to provide assistance for every event that impacts a State or county, so FEMA established evaluation factors based on this principle.


When the Governor of a State requests that the President declare a major disaster that authorizes Individual Assistance, FEMA uses the following criteria to determine whether Federal assistance is needed.

  • Concentration of damages. For State requests, FEMA evaluates the concentrations of damages to individuals. High concentrations of damages generally indicate a greater need for Federal assistance than widespread and scattered damages throughout a State.

  • Trauma. FEMA considers the degree of trauma to a State and to communities. Some of the conditions that might cause trauma are:
    • Large numbers of injuries or deaths;
    • Large scale disruption of normal community functions and services; and
    • Emergency needs such as extended or widespread loss of power or water.
  • Special populations. FEMA considers whether special populations, such as low-income, the elderly, or the unemployed are affected, and whether they may have a greater need for assistance. FEMA also considers the effect on American Indian and Alaskan Native Tribal populations in the event that there are any unique needs for people in these governmental entities.

  • Voluntary agency assistance. FEMA considers the extent to which voluntary agencies and State or local programs meet the needs of the disaster survivors.

  • Insurance. FEMA considers the amount of insurance coverage because, by law, Federal disaster assistance cannot duplicate insurance coverage.

FEMA would like your opinion on whether these Individual Assistance factors are appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating an Indian tribal government request for Individual Assistance during the pilot program. FEMA also welcomes comments on whether there are additional factors that may be appropriate for FEMA to consider when evaluating Indian tribal government requests for Individual Assistance.

FEMA welcomes comments on any or all of the topics addressed below in the manner you prefer. Comments are also welcomed on any other issues that may not be covered in the below topics.