Your First FEMA Letter May Not Be The Last Word

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Release date: 
September 24, 2007
Release Number: 
1720-037

FINDLAY, Ohio -- A denial letter from FEMA may not mean you are ineligible for assistance. There are several easily fixed reasons why an applicant may receive a denial letter, according to the Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The most common reason for denial letters is that the applicants are insured. This is marked as INS or IINS on the denial letter. In that situation, FEMA requires more information on the insurance settlement before a final decision can be made.

"By law, FEMA cannot duplicate what insurance already covers, or pay any deductibles," said Federal Coordinating Officer Jesse Munoz of FEMA. "But FEMA may still be able to help."

Other common reasons for denial letters include:

  • The applicant failed to fill out and return the SBA loan application.
  • The applicant did not provide or sign the required documents.
  • The applicant failed to prove occupancy or ownership.
  • The damage is to a secondary home or a rental property, not primary residence. (By law, applicants are eligible for FEMA disaster assistance only if the damage is to their primary residence-where the person usually lives and was living at the time of the disaster.)
  • Someone else in the household has already applied and received help.
  • The applicant registered before the disaster was officially declared for their county. (If this applies to you, be sure to call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to verify your status.)

If FEMA determines that applicants are not eligible for a grant, they may still be eligible for other assistance such as a low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), disaster unemployment assistance, free crisis counseling and tax assistance.

In the Ohio disaster, many applicants have homeowners insurance but not flood insurance. If an applicant with flood damage but no flood insurance receives a denial letter marked INS, they may want to contact FEMA right away.

Insured applicants should reconnect with FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) after their insurance claim is settled. If settlement is not imminent, they can ask their insurance agent to provide a "delay of settlement" letter. That information, along with any new or important information that may have surfaced since they first registered, should be mailed to the address provided in the FEMA letter.

Applicants can appeal any FEMA decision within 60 days of the date on the denial letter. Information on the appeal process is in the Applicant's Guide to the Individuals and Households Program Manual, which is mailed to applicants when they register for disaster aid.

Applicants can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) if they have questions about their application or the appeals process. For the speech- or hearing-impaired the number is 1-800-462-7585.

FEMA and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency urge people affected by the Ohio storms and flooding who have not yet registered for assistance to call before the deadline of October 26.

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.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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