FEMA Denial for Hurricane Assistance May Be Due to Lack of Information

January 2, 2006

An applicant for disaster assistance may receive a letter from FEMA denying their request for aid. But that letter may not be the last word. There are several easily-fixed reasons why an applicant may receive a denial letter, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

People sometimes call to register before the disaster is officially declared or before their county is included in the declaration. If so, the system creates an automatic letter telling them they are ineligible because they don’t live in a disaster-designated area. As counties are added denials are automatically reviewed without applicants having to call and register again.

If an individual is denied assistance because they are “INS-insured” (a code designating an insurance issue), they should consider calling FEMA again at 800-621-FEMA (3362) after their insurance claim is settled. If settlement is not imminent, they may wish to ask their insurance agent to provide a settlement letter. Settlement information, and any relevant new information, should be mailed to the address listed in the FEMA letter.

If FEMA determines that applicants are not eligible for a grant, they may still be eligible for:

* A low-interest disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
* Disaster unemployment assistance.
* Free crisis counseling.
* Legal and tax assistance.
* Many other programs designed to help disaster victims.

When FEMA sends a letter of denial the decision can be appealed, but this must be done within 60 days of the date on the letter. Information on the appeal process is in the Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals and Households Program Manual, which is mailed to applicants when they register for disaster aid.

Questions on how to appeal and on registering for aid can be answered by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362); for the speech- or hearing-impaired the number is 800-462-7585.

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