The Next Step in Disaster Recovery: FEMA Assistance Letters

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Release date: 
August 20, 2011
Release Number: 
1996-026

HELENA, Mont. -- After registering for disaster assistance, all registrants will receive a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The letter either explains that the registrant will receive assistance and how the money should be spent or what the registrant needs to do next to become eligible for assistance.

"Anyone who receives a letter from FEMA should read that document thoroughly and carefully," said Ed Tinsley, Montana Disaster and Emergency Services Administrator. "The letter is not the end of the process. It provides what steps are necessary to move you along in the process."

For help, those affected by the flooding can call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY at 800-462-7585) or visit a disaster recovery center if they have questions about the appeal process or any other question about disaster assistance. Disaster survivors can call the Helpline to locate a disaster recovery center or go to fema.gov/drclocator or m.fema.gov on a Smartphone or other mobile device.

"Every registrant has the right to appeal a FEMA decision," said Federal Coordinating Officer Doug Mayne. "When you do so, you are asking us to review your case again, and we will gladly do that."

Some common reasons registrations are considered incomplete are:

  • More information is needed on insurance coverage. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments. If registrants can show the need for assistance to cover losses not covered by insurance, an appeal may be successful.
  • The applicant did not sign the required documents.
  • Additional personal information is needed.
  • More documentation is needed to show the identity of the registrant or that the damaged property was his or her primary residence at the time of the disaster.
  • The registrant or the property cannot be found. If FEMA can't contact you, your application may be denied.

Information on how and where to file an appeal is included in the "Help After a Disaster" booklet included with FEMA letters. If after the registrant reviews the guide and he or she decides to appeal, the appeal letter must be submitted within 60 days of the date on the FEMA letter. Registrants should keep all correspondence and documentation for their records.

Registrants may also receive a letter from FEMA if an appointment with the housing inspector was missed or the registrant failed to complete the U.S Small Business Administration loan application.

Homeowners or renters who receive a disaster loan application from the SBA must complete it to be referred to other FEMA programs. You are not required to accept the loan, but returning the application is an essential part of the assistance process.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal government's primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private, nonprofit organizations fund repairs and rebuilding efforts, and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For information about SBA programs, applicants may call (800) 659-2955 (TTY 1-800-977-8339).

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
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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