Springfield, MO -- As the July 7th deadline for disaster assistance approaches, state and federal disaster officials are also reminding those individuals who may have been initially denied assistance because they had homeowners' insurance that they may still be eligible for assistance.
Those who had insurance coverage are among Missouri's most fortunate tornado survivors, but to avoid a duplication of benefits, those same applicants were initially not eligible for certain types of state and federal disaster assistance until they could provide their insurance settlement.
"While the application deadline is coming up real soon, those residents who have finally settled with their insurance companies have 60 days from the date of their original correspondence to submit an appeal," said Mike Karl, federal coordinating officer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
FEMA places all requests for disaster assistance on hold when an applicant indicates that they have insurance coverage: no inspector is dispatched to verify damages and a letter is sent out declining housing assistance - at least until a more complete picture is available. FEMA needs to see an insurance settlement letter to determine the full extent of their unmet needs in order to complete the appeal review for disaster assistance.
"In most cases we are talking about under-insured repair assistance and personal property losses," explained Jerry Ulmann, state coordinating officer for the State Emergency Management Agency. "We want to ensure that every applicant receives all the disaster assistance they are eligible for."
If residents have received their final settlement and still have unmet needs they will have to appeal the initial FEMA decision. They may call the toll-free Helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 for the hearing and speech-impaired to answer questions about writing an appeal letter. Multilingual assistance is available when needed. These are the same numbers used to apply and are available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and will be closed on Friday, July 4th.
Applicants must submit their appeal in writing (including the insurance documents) to: FEMA Appeals Officer, National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055 or you may fax them to 800-872-8112.
Your appeal must be postmarked within 60 days of the date of the original correspondence.
Appeals will not be accepted after this date. FEMA will review your appeal and make a ruling as soon as possible, usually within 30 days of receiving your request. Applicants will be notified in writing of the appeal decision.