NEW YORK – If you applied for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following Hurricane Sandy and received a letter stating you were not eligible for disaster aid, you should know that the first letter may not be the final word.
If applicants receive a letter from FEMA that states that they are ineligible, it does not necessarily mean an applicant is not eligible for disaster assistance. If the letter states “ineligible” or “incomplete,” more information may be needed, such as the applicant’s insurance documents or proof of status of their claim, prior to disaster aid being granted.
FEMA requires homeowners and renters to provide insurance and other information at the time of registration. After a disaster, important documents may not be readily available or may be destroyed. Applicants for disaster aid can update their information about insurance and residency at any point during the application process.
A determination letter sent by FEMA will specifically explain why an application needs to be revisited. It might ask for insurance settlement documentation for property damaged or destroyed, or for documents reflecting proof of occupancy or ownership of the damaged property.
Other reasons an applicant may receive a denial letter include:
- The damaged property is not listed as your primary residence at the time of the disaster.
- The damage was due to pre-existing conditions.
- The disaster damage was not documented.
- The FEMA housing inspector cannot reach the applicant by phone.
- Someone else in the household has already applied for assistance.
- The application is not complete.
Applicants have several options to obtain clarification on their letters, they can visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) or they can call the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-3362, or TTY 1-800-462-7585. In the DRCs, applicants will find representatives from the state, FEMA, the SBA and other organizations. The FEMA representatives can provide clarity on the letter and guidance on what additional documentation is needed.
For a list of the DRCs open in New York, go online to www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers. For those who use 711 Relay or Video Relay Services, please call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free lines are open 24 hours, seven days a week until further notice.