Appealing a FEMA Ineligibility Letter

FEMA-appeal-hurricane-sandyIf you have received notice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that you are ineligible for disaster assistance following Hurricane Sandy you may be able to use additional documentation to turn that “no” into a “yes.”

“Every applicant has the right to appeal a decision,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Gregory W. Eaton. “In fact, applicants can appeal any FEMA decision. When you do so, you are asking us to review your case again, and we will gladly do that.”

Applicants who received a letter stating they are “ineligible” should read that document carefully. It will list some reasons the aid was denied and provide instructions on filing an appeal.

Some common reasons an applicant may be determined ineligible include:

  • Insufficient storm-related damage.
  • Adequate insurance coverage.
  • Additional personal or insurance information needed to complete the assistance evaluation process.
  • Confusion about Social Security numbers, addresses or phone numbers. If FEMA can’t contact you, your application may be denied.

Applicants may appeal the decision if they find circumstances have changed from the time they registered. They may have discovered additional damage to their property, or that they need housing help after all. Renters may find upon returning that their residences are unlivable.

FEMA understands that circumstances after a disaster can be fluid and changeable, you have the chance to report those changes — changes that could make the difference in becoming eligible for disaster assistance.

Effective appeal letters should follow these procedures:

In the first paragraph, list the applicant’s full legal name used on the aid application, along with Social Security number and the FEMA case number. Include a personal phone number as well as a back-up phone number where the applicant also can be reached, in addition to a correct mailing address.

Write an explanation of events that provides evidence to support the appeal. Summarize changes in circumstances or needs, additional damages to property discovered after the registration was filed or higher-than-planned costs for repairs, for example.

Include photocopies of receipts for materials and labor as well as up to three written bids for repair work if those costs exceed the award amount. Submitting repair estimates, receipts, statements or invoices helps applicants lodge effective appeals.

Also keep in mind:

The appeal letter must be submitted within 60 days of the date on the denial letter — by mail, or by fax at 1-800-827-8112, or in person at a state/federal Disaster Recovery Center. Keep a copy of the appeal letter and supporting documentation as a record.

Information on how and where to file an appeal is included with denial letters and in the “Help After a Disaster” booklet that is included with registration packets.

Disaster Recover Centers

One of the best sources of help with an appeal is your local Disaster Recover Center.  A Disaster Recovery Center is a readily accessible facility or mobile office where applicants may go for information about FEMA or other disaster assistance programs, or for questions related to your case.

Search for a Disaster Recovery Center

Some of the services may include:

  • Guidance regarding disaster recovery
  • Clarification of any written correspondence received
  • Housing Assistance and Rental Resource information
  • Answers to questions, resolution to problems and referrals to agencies that may provide further assistance
  • Status of applications being processed by FEMA
  • SBA program information if there is a SBA Representative at the Disaster Recovery Center site

Register by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. If you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CDT. You also can register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by smart phone or tablet at m.femagov.