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Letter from FEMA is the Starting Point - Not the Last Word

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Release date: 
June 8, 2011
Release Number: 

CLINTON, Miss. -- After registering with FEMA, disaster survivors receive a letter from FEMA concerning the status of their application. The letter is a starting point - not the final word - about whether or not the applicant will receive disaster assistance.

Applicants should read the letter carefully. Even if the letter says that you are ineligible, it does not necessarily mean "case closed." The letter also explains how to appeal or what information is needed.

Ask for help if you don't understand what the letter is saying. Call the helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585 or visit a Disaster Recovery Center where you can talk with someone about your particular situation.

To find the nearest center, log on to

You may not have qualified for financial help right away, but that decision may change if you submit additional documents. Some of the reasons for an initial ineligible decision can be that you:

  • Have not submitted a settlement or denial determination from your insurance company.
  • Have been referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration but have not turned in your paperwork and received a decision from SBA.
  • Did not provide FEMA with all the information needed to process your application.
  • Have not provided proof of ownership or occupancy.
  • Did not provide records that showed the damaged property was your primary residence at the time of the disaster.
  • Did not sign essential documents.

FEMA can never duplicate assistance from insurance or other government sources. But FEMA may be able to cover some of your uninsured losses.

Providing the requested information or taking the required actions might change FEMA's determination. The letter also explains how to appeal a determination. Appeals must be filed within 60 days of the date of the ineligible decision.

Remember: the letter from FEMA is a starting point. You should:

  • Read the letter carefully.
  • Ask questions and ask for help.
  • Tell FEMA if you think the decision is incorrect. You have the right to ask FEMA to reconsider the decision.

FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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