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Disaster Legal Services Benefits

Program Description

Disaster Legal Services (DLS) provides legal assistance to low-income individuals who, prior to or as a result of a Presidentially declared major disaster, are unable to secure legal services adequate to meet their disaster-related needs. When the President declares a disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through an agreement with the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association, provides free legal help for survivors of that disaster.

Legal advice is limited to cases that will not produce a fee (cases where attorneys are paid part of the settlement, which is awarded by the court). Cases that may generate a fee are turned over to the local lawyer referral service. The assistance that local lawyers provide typically includes:
  • Help with insurance claims for doctor and hospital bills, loss of property, loss of life, etc.
  • Preparing new wills, powers of attorney, and other legal documents lost in the disaster
  • Help with home repair contracts and contractors
  • Advice on problems with landlords

General Program Requirements

In order to qualify for this program, you must reside in an area that has been declared a major disaster area by the President.

Your Next Steps

The following information will lead you to the next steps to apply for this program.

Application Process

To find out if your State has a Disaster Legal Services program, call the FEMA Helpline 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362). For the hearing impaired, please call 1-800-462-7585.

Program Contact Information