LONG BEACH, Miss. -- Applicants for disaster aid who receive a denial letter declaring them ineligible for disaster assistance can follow a process to appeal decisions, according to officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
"The recovery process doesn't necessarily end with a denial letter," said FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer Michael L. Parker. "Sometimes a denial simply means that more information is needed before the analysis can be completed."
By law, FEMA cannot duplicate financial assistance that is paid by insurance agencies or other organizations. Therefore, an applicant who has filed an insurance claim, but has not yet settled that claim, may receive an ineligibility letter. Once the applicant's insurance claim is settled, FEMA should be notified of that amount so a registration can continue to be processed.
"The disaster recovery process can be complicated," said MEMA Director Mike Womack.? "Often when residents receive this denial letter, they believe this is a final determination; but that's not true.? I hope that anybody who receives a denial letter follows up with a recovery specialist, whether in person at a Disaster Recovery Center or by calling FEMA's toll free phone line."
Residents located in the five disaster-declared counties ? Adams, Hancock, Harrison, Washington and Wilkinson -? who have suffered damage from Hurricane Gustav during the Aug. 28 to Sept. 8, 2008 period should register for assistance whether they have settled an insurance claim or not. The general rule is to call your insurance agent, get a claim number and then call FEMA's toll-free registration line, 1-800-621 FEMA (3362). Hearing- or speech-impaired individuals should call 1-800-462-7585.
Other issues may arise that may cause an applicant to be eligible for more assistance. For instance, if a registrant was given money to repair a furnace and a contractor said it was beyond repair and must be replaced, FEMA should be contacted with the actual cost of replacement. Also, when a contractor begins an estimate for repairs and additional damages come to light, that information should be supplied to FEMA as well.
Applicants denied assistance have 60 days from the date of their determination letter to appeal the decision. All appeals must be submitted in writing.
In their appeal letters, registrants should explain why they think the decision about the amount or type of assistance they received is not correct. They should be as specific as possible in describing any issues they think were not addressed in the inspection process.
Appeal letters should include the applicant's FEMA disaster registration number and the federal disaster declaration number. It is important to have the appeal letter postmarked within 60 days of the date on the decision letter. The appeal letter should be addressed to:
FEMA - Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055
Letters also can be faxed to 1-800-827-8112 with a cover sheet addressed as follows: Attention: FEMA - Individuals & Households Program.
For more information about a FEMA appeal, call the FEMA helpline at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.