Earthquake Survivors Can Appeal FEMA’s Decision on Federal Assistance

Release Date Release Number
NR 41
Release Date:
September 10, 2020

PONCE, Puerto Rico – Residents affected by the earthquakes have the right to appeal FEMA’s decision on federal assistance. This not only includes decisions about what assistance you are eligible to receive but also the amount or type of assistance provided by FEMA.

Applicants who do not agree with FEMA’s decision are entitled to submit an appeal in writing detailing why they disagree. You have 60 days from the date on FEMA’s letter to file an appeal.

The earthquakes began Dec. 28, and several strong aftershocks since then may have caused additional damage to homes and property. Residents of these 33 municipalities may apply for FEMA Individual Assistance: Adjuntas, Aguada, Añasco, Arecibo, Barceloneta, Cabo Rojo, Ciales, Coamo, Corozal, Guánica, Guayanilla, Hormigueros, Jayuya, Juana Díaz, Lajas, Lares, Las Marías, Maricao, Mayagüez, Moca, Morovis, Naranjito, Orocovis, Peñuelas, Ponce, Sabana Grande, Salinas, San Germán, San Sebastián, Santa Isabel, Utuado, Villalba and Yauco.

Some of the reasons for ineligibility may easily be resolved. One of the most common reasons is you did not submit all the required documents to support your claims. For example, you may have forgotten to include proof of residency or occupancy, proof of ownership of the damaged property, proof of identification or an insurance settlement letter.

If an applicant’s disaster-damaged property is determined to be a rental unit or second home, the application may be deemed ineligible for assistance. An applicant may be determined ineligible if someone else in the household already received assistance. An applicant could also be ineligible if an inspection report shows the home was safe to occupy and had insufficient damage to qualify. Assistance can also be affected if FEMA is unable to contact the applicant.

Many of these issues can be easily resolved by calling the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 (FEMA) or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Press 2 for a Spanish-speaking operator. Lines are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Appeals can be submitted in different ways:

  • Mail: FEMA National Processing Service Center

P.O. Box 10055

Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055

Applicants who do not receive a response within two weeks of filing their appeal should call the FEMA Helpline.

Applicants may appeal as many times as needed after they receive a FEMA determination letter. To file another appeal, you will need to send new supporting documents or new evidence that substantiates the claim.

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