Every applicant receives a letter from FEMA explaining the current status of their application and whether or not they will receive assistance from FEMA.
Applicants should carefully read any letters they receive from FEMA. If they have questions they should visit a disaster recovery center, where someone can sit down and talk with them individually, or call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 800-462-7585.
Applicants should not be discouraged if they receive a letter indicating they are ineligible or denied assistance. The letter provides an explanation of what steps need to be taken to change the status of their request for assistance. Applicants can take the letter to a disaster recovery center for help with the appeals process or call the FEMA helpline.
Sometimes people do not qualify for financial help right away, but that decision may change if further documents are submitted. Some of the reasons for an initial turn down are:
- They didn't provide records that showed the damaged property was the primary residence at the time of the disaster;
- They might not have gotten their insurance settlement;
- They may not have given FEMA all the information needed;
- They haven't provided proof of ownership or residence;
- They may not have returned the Small Business Administration disaster loan application;
- They didn't sign essential documents.
FEMA can never duplicate assistance that comes from insurance benefits or other government sources, but FEMA's initial determination of ineligibility may change if private insurance or other government assistance is not enough to cover all the eligible damage.
Again, everyone should –
- Read the letter;
- Ask questions;
- Ask for help;
- And tell FEMA if they think they got it wrong – you have the right to ask FEMA to reconsider our decision.
Appeals must be filed within 60 days of the date of the determination letter.