Applicants Can Revisit the Decision on FEMA Disaster Assistance

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Survivors of the October wildfires may still be able to qualify for disaster assistance even if they receive a letter from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) saying they are not eligible.

Often it’s a matter of needing to submit more information so FEMA or SBA can continue processing the application. Examples of missing documentation might include an insurance settlement letter, proof of residency or ownership of a damaged property, or simply that the applicant did not sign the required documents.

Other reasons for being deemed ineligible:

  • Someone else in the household has also applied for and received help.
  • A FEMA housing inspector cannot reach the applicant by phone.

Applicants who receive a determination letter of ineligibility can call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585 to find out how to appeal the decision, submit any required documents or make changes to contact information. For those who use 711 or Video Relay Services, call 800-621-3362. The toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.

They can also go online at DisasterAssistance.gov, use the FEMA app on a smart phone, or visit one of the Disaster Recovery Center. To find the closest location visit: https://egateway.fema.gov/ESF6/DRCLocator

FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments. However, if applicants are underinsured they may receive further assistance for unmet needs after insurance claims have been settled.

If an applicant feels that the amount or type of assistance is not correct, they need to explain why in writing within 60 days from the date on the letter of ineligibility. They should include their full name, date, disaster number and the nine-digit registration number they received from FEMA.

In addition, the letter must either be notarized, or include the following statement, “I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.” The letter must be signed and applicants should keep a copy for their records.

Mail the appeal to: FEMA National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055  Or fax it to: 800-827-8112; Attention: FEMA

For more information on California recovery, visit the disaster web page at WildfireRecovery.org, fema.gov/disaster/4344, and Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/femaregion9.

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All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. 

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing disastercustomerservice@sba.gov, or visiting SBA’s website at www.sba.gov/disaster. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call the TTY line at 800-877-8339.

Robb Mayberry

Robb Mayberry is a Public Information Officer for the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. He has assisted in the response and recovery efforts with some of California’s worst disasters, including the San Refugio Oil Spill, the Valley and Butte Wildfires, Aliso Canyon Gas Leak, Erskine Fire, and the Winters Storms of 2017. Prior to public service, he spent 25 years managing the public and media relations for some of Northern California’s largest healthcare organizations.

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