Have a Question About a FEMA Letter? Contact Us!

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Release date: 
June 29, 2011
Release Number: 
1991-019

Have a Question About a FEMA Letter? Contact Us!

Marion, Ill. — People who have applied for disaster assistance to help cover costs from severe storms that swept through southern Illinois in late April and early May with resultant flooding should contact FEMA if they are confused or disagree with a FEMA determination letter.

If applicants receive a letter saying they are ineligible for state-federal assistance, they have the right to appeal, which means they are simply asking FEMA to take another look. Depending on the circumstances, the initial ruling may be reversed. The appeal process is explained in detail in the letter the applicant receives.

Applicants who appeal can meet with a specialist at one of the Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) to get help with the process. At this time there are DRCs open in Metropolis (closes at 7 p.m. Tuesday, 6/28) and Herrin (closes at 7 p.m. Wednesday, 6/29). Two other centers will open this week, one in Cairo on Wednesday (6/29) and one in Junction on Thursday (6/30). All centers operate from 9 a.m. - 7 p.m. If a center is closed, applicants may call FEMA's Helpline, 800-621-3362 and the Helpline specialist can assist.

A denial letter does not necessarily mean that an applicant cannot receive assistance.  It often indicates that FEMA did not receive all the information the agency is legally required to have before providing financial aid. In that case, an appeal that supplies the missing information may be successful.

Typical reasons for ineligibility because of incomplete information can include:

The applicant did not sign required documents;

Provide proof that the damaged property was the primary residence at the time of the disaster;

Provide evidence of identity;

Provide documentation of the disaster damage;

Provide proof of ownership of the damaged property.

Other reasons FEMA might send a letter of ineligibility that may be appealed are that the applicant has not completed and returned the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan application for homeowners and renters, which is a necessary step before FEMA can consider other grant assistance, or that the damages were too small to qualify for assistance. Currently, the minimum is $50.

Still another reason could be that the losses are covered by insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance benefits. If the applicant can show the need for help with losses not covered by insurance, an appeal may be successful.

An appeal may also be made when an applicant receives an award but believes the amount to be too low.

Appeals must be made within 60 days of the ineligibility letter. Applicants or someone they designate to act on their behalf must explain in writing why they believe the initial response was wrong and provide any new or additional information and documents that support the appeal.

More information about how to appeal is in the Applicant's Guide that FEMA mails to each applicant and online at www.fema.gov. Applicants may talk with experts daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on the FEMA Helpline, 800-621-FEMA (3362), or for the hearing...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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