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FEMA Eligibility Letter May Not Be Last Word on Disaster Assistance

Release date: 
December 28, 2018
Release Number: 
DR-4407-CA NR 019

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Wildfire survivors who applied for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and received a letter or text message saying they are ineligible for disaster assistance, should know this first communication may not be the last word.

Very often ineligibility can be resolved quickly. In fact, the most common reasons for this determination are:

  • The application may be incomplete. More information or documentation is needed;
  • The applicant did not sign the required documents;
  • The applicant did not prove occupancy or ownership;
  • The damage is to a secondary home or a rental property – not a primary residence;
  • Someone else in the household has applied for and received assistance;
  • A letter of determination, or other information, may be needed from an insurance company, or
  • The applicant may have adequate insurance coverage. If a survivor has insurance, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments. However, under-insured applicants may receive further assistance for unmet needs after insurance claims have been settled.

Often, the problem of missing information can be fixed online at or by calling 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585). Multi-lingual operators are available. The toll-free numbers are open daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (PST). Survivors may check the status of their applications or update their contact information at these same numbers.

Applicants ineligible for FEMA grants may still be eligible for other programs, such as Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Applicants may be referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), where low-interest disaster loans are available to businesses of all sizes, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters. SBA disaster loans can help fund repair or replacement costs not covered by insurance or other sources. Applicants may apply online at or, for more information, contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955.


All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).

FEMA’s mission: Helping people before, during, and after disasters.

The U.S. 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 businesses 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 more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing, or visiting SBA’s website at Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

Last Updated: 
December 28, 2018 - 18:21