LACEY, Wash. -- There is an appeals process for November flood survivors who received a denial letter after applying for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Under certain circumstances, a letter with the proper documentation could get that assistance.
"The recovery process doesn't necessarily end with a denial letter," said Libby Turner, federal coordinating officer. "Sometimes a denial simply means that more information is needed before the analysis can be completed."
Applicants who are denied housing and other needs assistance under FEMA's Individuals and Households Program (IHP) have 60 days from the date of their determination letter to appeal the decision. All appeals must be submitted in writing.
Documentation that supports personal identification, occupancy or ownership of the residential property, uninsured or underinsured property losses, and repairs not covered by insurance should be submitted.
Specific information about appealing insurance-related denials:
While the law prohibits federal payment for losses covered by insurance, financial aid may be provided for losses not covered, and information in the settlement letter from the insurance company can help obtain this aid from FEMA, if the individual is eligible.
In their appeal letters, applicants should explain in writing why they think the decision about the amount or type of assistance they received is not correct. They should provide specific examples of problems - electrical, plumbing, floors, walls, ceilings, etc. - they feel were not addressed in the inspection process. The applicant, or someone who represents them or their household, should sign the letter. If the person writing the letter is not a member of the household, there must be a statement signed by the applicant saying that the writer has the authority to act on behalf of the applicant.
Appeal letters should be dated and include the applicant's FEMA registration number and the disaster number. It is important to have appeal letters postmarked within 60 days of the date on the decision letter. The appeal letter should be mailed to the following address:
FEMA - Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055
Letters can also be faxed to 800-827-8112 (Attention: FEMA - Individuals & Households Program).
Common reasons for denial include: adequate insurance coverage; damage to a secondary home (not a primary residence); duplicate applications made from the same address; and the inability to prove occupancy or ownership.
To register for or ask questions about FEMA assistance, residents should call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- and hearing- impaired. The deadline to apply for disaster assistance is February 12.
It is important to register with FEMA by Feb. 12. Occasionally, the insurance settlement process may take several months before it is final, perhaps until after the registration period has ended. To be considered for federal assistance, residents must have applied before the February 12 deadline, even if they are not finished with the insurance claims process.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident, initiates mitigation activities and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA works closely with State and local emergency managers, law enforcement personnel, firefighters, and other first responders. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.