FEMA to Sandy victims: ‘Don’t settle for no’by Marcie Geffner
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has an important message for homeowners who’ve suffered losses due to super-storm Sandy and who have been told they’re not eligible for assistance: don’t take no for an answer.
Often, that initial “no” isn’t the last word from the U.S. government disaster-aid agency. Instead, FEMA is urging victims not to miss out on help just because a document or signature is missing from their application.
FEMA status letter
If you’ve registered with FEMA to receive assistance, you should be receiving a letter explaining the status of your application. If the letter says you’re not eligible, read on because it should also include information about how to appeal and what FEMA needs to reconsider your request.
According to FEMA, your application might be turned down for any of the following, among other, reasons:
- You haven’t received your insurance settlement, if any
- You haven’t submitted proof of property ownership or residence
- You haven’t submitted proof that the damaged property was your primary residence
- Essential documents are unsigned
By law, FEMA can’t help you unless all the required documents have been submitted.
If you have questions, call the FEMA helpline at (800) 621-3362 or go to a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center in your area.
How to appeal
Any decision can be appealed, whether the denial was due to eligibility, the amount or type of help you need, a late application, request to return money or denial of continued assistance, according to FEMA.
To appeal a decision:
- Write a letter explaining why you think the amount or type of assistance you received was incorrect.
- Include the FEMA registration and disaster numbers shown at the top of your decision letter.
- Include your current mailing address.
- Sign and date your letter.
- Mail your letter to FEMA Individuals & Households Program National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055 or fax it to (800) 827-8112, attention: FEMA – Individuals & Households Program.
- If you mail your letter of appeal, it must be postmarked within 60 days of the date of your decision letter.
FEMA also has produced a video that explains the appeal information.
Eligibility for disaster recovery assistance is determined without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. To report any such discrimination, call the FEMA helpline.