Floridians who received denial letters for disaster assistance for the 2004 hurricanes can follow a process to appeal decisions, according to state and federal officials.
If applicant letters stated they were denied assistance because they are “INS-insured” (a code designating an insurance issue), applicants should call the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Helpline again at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), TTY 1-800-462-7585 for the speech- and hearing- impaired, after their insurance claim is settled. While the law forbids federal payment for losses covered by insurance or for payment of the deductibles, financial aid may be provided for losses not covered, and information in that settlement letter can help.
“If you received an insurance settlement and you feel it was not sufficient, re-contact FEMA and let them know of your situation,” said Craig Fugate, state coordinating officer, head of the State Emergency Response Team (SERT). “Insurance cases can be appealed up to 12 months from an applicant’s registration date.”
If an insurance settlement is still being delayed, applicants should ask their insurance agent for a settlement letter and submit it to FEMA, along with any new information at the address listed in the FEMA letter. This information also can be taken to one of the state’s 38 Disaster Recovery Centers for help in appealing their claim.
Applicants also may have received denial letters if they registered with FEMA before their counties officially were declared as disaster areas for Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan or Jeanne. The FEMA processing system would have created an automatic letter telling them that they were ineligible because they don’t live in a designated disaster area.
Applicant cases from counties added to the declarations will automatically be reviewed and, if warranted, corrected without the applicant needing to call again.
Floridians who received denial letters for assistance may still be eligible for other federal and state programs, according to Bill Carwile, federal coordinating officer. “Eligible residents still can receive help in the form of a low-interest loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration, crisis counseling, legal and tax aid, and other disaster assistance programs,” he said.
Applicants who are denied housing and other needs assistance have 60 days from the date of their determination letter to appeal the decision.
All appeals must be submitted in writing.
The State Emergency Response Team (SERT) is a collaboration of Florida’s state agencies led by the state coordinating officer. SERT’s mission is to ensure that Florida is prepared to respond to emergencies, recover from them, and mitigate their impact. Visit www.floridadisaster.org for the latest information on the hurricane relief efforts.
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