LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas residents who receive a letter saying they are ineligible for federal assistance may still qualify for help. The letter can mean several things – and it does not necessarily mean the case is closed.
There are several reasons why applicants may receive ineligibility letters including:
• Need for information to prove occupancy or ownership of the damaged property
• Proof of identity is not verified
• Documentation to prove disaster damage is not available
• Incomplete insurance information
One of the most common reasons why the letters are sent is because applicants stated that they had insurance. FEMA must deny aid until an insurance settlement is reached because FEMA assistance programs are not intended to duplicate insurance compensation or cover deductibles for disaster-related loss or damage.
Even the best insurance coverage may not cover every need, which is why state, federal and nonprofit programs are made available. But, even well-insured applicants may be eligible to be reimbursed for disaster expenses not covered by insurance.
Federal disaster assistance is designed to help with uninsured or underinsured losses caused by the disaster. The disaster assistance gives many a starting place or "hand up" to begin the recovery process.
You may be found ineligible for assistance for various reasons, including:
• Your home is determined safe to occupy
• The home is not your primary residence
• Another member of your household has already registered for FEMA assistance
• You can also be found ineligible if, in the past, you received federal disaster assistance for flood damage and did not purchase or maintain the required flood insurance.
Applicants should read their letters carefully and take action on items identified in the letter to qualify for assistance. They may visit any Disaster Recovery Center or contact FEMA at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY: 800-462-7585 for speech and hearing impaired, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with questions. They should have their FEMA registration number available. Applicants can also use this number to check on the status of their registration, update their application information or have any questions about the disaster assistance.
Individuals are advised to complete the Small Business Administration (SBA) loan application. Filling out the loan application is a necessary step if applicants are to be considered for some other forms of disaster assistance. SBA Disaster Loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. The SBA can also lend additional funds to help with the cost of making improvements that protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future.
Survivors who have not yet registered for assistance may do so at the telephone numbers above, at www.disasterassistance.gov or at a Disaster Recovery Center. Those with insurance should contact their insurance company and ask for a settlement letter detailing exactly what is covered under their claim. Mail insurance settlement information to FEMA, Individuals & Households Program, National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055 or fax to 800-827-8112. Be sure to include the FEMA registration number on the documents.
Applicants who wish to appeal a decision may do so in writing within 60 days from the date of the decision or date of the letter. Guidelines for appeals can be found in the Applicant's Handbook sent to all FEMA registrants. Learn more about the appeal process at www.fema.gov/news-release/2016/05/04/how-appeal-fema-decision.