New Jersey survivors of Hurricane Sandy who have been turned down for disaster assistance by the Federal Emergency Management Agency have the right to appeal that decision.
Before appealing, be sure to read your determination letter carefully. FEMA may only be asking that you provide additional information. If this is the case, include as much documentation as possible to support your losses and document their value.
If you have been turned down or received less than the amount of assistance you feel is needed to meet your immediate needs, this does not necessarily mean that your case is closed.
Remember that FEMA is a program of last resort ─ not an insurance policy. Disaster assistance may be provided to meet basic needs for you and members of your household due to a disaster. It is not a program to make you whole or to improve conditions that existed before the disaster.
Here are some common reasons why an application is denied:
• Shared Household Rule ─ FEMA does not determine a ‘Head of Household’ when multiple people at the same address apply. If you were denied and you feel you are not part of a shared household, you can appeal and submit supporting documentation.
• Duplication of Benefits ─ If you have insurance, FEMA will suspend payment of assistance which may be covered by your insurance. If you find your insurance is insufficient to cover your essential losses, you can notify FEMA and send in your final insurance settlement or claim denial information.
How To Appeal a FEMA Determination:
• Understand why you were denied ─ Completely review your FEMA determination letter. All determinations are explained in the body of the letter. If you would like someone to go
over the letter with you or if you need additional information, you can call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362).
DISASTER SURVIVORS HAVE RIGHT TO APPEAL
• Appeal quickly ─ You have 60 days from the date on the determination letter you get from FEMA to respond to a FEMA denial or a payment you feel is not adequate. If you are filing an appeal more than 60 days after the date noted on your FEMA determination letter, you will need to include an explanation of why your response is over the 60-day deadline.
• Request your FEMA file ─ If you need information about your case, you or the co-applicant on your application may request a copy of the information in your file by writing to:
FEMA ─ Records Management
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055
To help protect the privacy of your personal information, whenever you write an appeal or request letter to FEMA you should include your full name, date and place of birth, damaged dwelling address, FEMA application number, and disaster number. Have your letter notarized or include a copy of a state-issued identification card or include the following statement: “I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.” You must sign the letter.
Follow the guidelines for appealing your denial. You must include your FEMA registration number and disaster number on every page of your appeal and every page of your supporting information.
You can find both numbers on your determination letter.
• Gather information ─ Provide FEMA with any verifiable documentation that may support your appeal. If you are not sure if you should include a particular document, you can call the FEMA helpline for assistance at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or submit your appeal to the address below.
• Remember the bar code ─ Include a copy of the page of the eligibility notification that you received from FEMA with the bar code on it.
• Make sure you sign the appeal letter ─ Your appeal letter must be signed by you or an authorized representative. If you want someone else to sign the appeal for you, make sure to submit an authorization former with the appeal.
• Keep records ─ Make sure to keep a copy of everything you send and keep a phone log of any calls or meetings with FEMA.
• FEMA response to your appeal: FEMA has 90 days to issue a written decision to an appeal but often responds more quickly. FEMA’s decision on your appeal should be considered final. However if you have new information you may provide this to FEMA.
Send your appeal letter to:
FEMA Appeals Officer
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055
If you would like to speak with a specialist who can help you with the appeal process, you can visit a local Disaster Recovery Center or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585. To find the nearest Disaster Recovery Center, visit asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/home.htm and type your address into the search box.
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.
Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema,
and www.youtube.com/fema. Also, follow Administrator Craig Fugate's activities at www.twitter.com/craigatfema.
The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.