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Fact Sheet: How to Appeal FEMA’s Decision on Eligibility

Release date: 
May 7, 2020
Release Number: 
FEMA-4541-DR-TN FS 001

Applicants for FEMA assistance are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Not everyone who applies will necessarily qualify for aid and amounts vary based on individual and/or household needs.

The amount and type of housing assistance you receive might be different from assistance your neighbor receives, even though the damage appears to be similar. For example, one homeowner might have more extensive insurance coverage than the homeowner next door, which could result in a different amount of FEMA assistance received.

If you qualify for a grant, FEMA will provide you:

  • A check by mail or a direct deposit into your checking or savings account, and
  • A determination letter describing how you are to use the money.

There are multiple categories of assistance, so it is possible to qualify for more than one type of aid. Your determination letter will specify the category of assistance.

If you do not qualify for a grant, FEMA will provide you:

  • A letter explaining why you did not qualify
  • An opportunity to appeal the decision

The Appeal Process

An appeal should be filed in the form of a signed letter within 60 days of the date on the determination letter. In the appeal, explain why you disagree with the decision. Make sure to include the following:

  • Applicant’s full name, date of birth and current address
  • Applicant’s signature and the date
  • Applicant’s registration number (on every page)
  • FEMA disaster declaration number – DR-4541-TN (on every page)

You or your co-applicant, must sign the letter.

If you choose to have a third party submit an appeal on your behalf, the appeal letter must be signed by the third party.  Additionally, please include a statement signed by you authorizing the third party to appeal on your behalf.

Mail your appeal letter to:
FEMA-Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P. O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055


Appeal letters and supporting documentation also can be uploaded to your account on, or you can fax to 800-827-8112.

For questions about eligibility letters, survivors can visit or call the disaster assistance helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585).

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For more information on Tennessee recovery, visit the FEMA disaster web page,  and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency website,

Last Updated: 
May 7, 2020 - 11:29