MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- A denial letter from FEMA may not be the last word in disaster assistance, say officials from the State of Alabama and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
"A denial letter may represent only an additional step in the process to receive aid," Gracia Szczech, federal coordinating officer for the tornado recovery, said.
After applicants register for assistance and an inspection has documented uninsured losses, FEMA sends a check (or direct deposit) or a denial letter with an explanation. All applicants get the "Help After the Disaster" guide. It answers most questions including how to file an appeal. If you still have questions, call FEMA's Helpline at (800) 621-FEMA (3362).
A written appeal must be postmarked within 60 days of the date of the decision letter's date. Be sure to date your letter and include your FEMA registration number and the disaster number (shown at top of decision letter) in all correspondence or conversations with the Helpline.
Alabama State Coordinating Officer Bruce Baughman urged anyone who feels that a mistake was made when they were denied assistance to begin the appeal process immediately. "We want to make certain that everyone gets the assistance for which they are eligible," he said.
Typical reasons for denials are:
The applicant has insurance to cover the loss;
The property is a secondary or vacation home;
The information taken at the time of registration is incorrect or incomplete; or
Additional documentation requested by FEMA has not been provided.
May 2 is the deadline to register for assistance. Call (800) 621-FEMA (3362) 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The TTY number is (800) 462-7585 for those who are speech or hearing impaired. Applicants can also register online at www.fema.gov.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, economic status or retaliation. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, you should call FEMA toll-free at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or contact your State Office of Equal rights. If suspicious of any abuse of FEMA programs, please contact the fraud hotline at 1-800-323-8603.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.