FEMA Eligibility Letter May Not Be Last Word on Disaster Assistance

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If you applied for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and received a letter or text message saying you were not eligible for disaster aid, you should know that the first communication may not be the last word. While applicants may be ineligible for FEMA disaster grants, they may receive assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

And there may be an easy-to-resolve reason why some wildfire survivors received a notice stating that they are ineligible for assistance.

If you were informed that your application is “ineligible” or “incomplete,” more information may be needed.

A common reason for initially being ineligible for disaster assistance is that an applicant needs to provide FEMA with a copy of an insurance determination letter before a grant application can be processed.

Other reasons for a determination of ineligibility include:
• The applicant did not sign the required documents.
• The applicant did not prove occupancy or ownership.
• Applicant’s identity may not have been verified.
• The damage is to a secondary home or a rental property, not a primary residence.
• Someone else in the household may have applied and received assistance.
• Disaster related losses could not be verified.

Every applicant for federal assistance has the right to file an appeal. Appeals may be mailed, faxed or personally delivered to a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) and must be received within 60 days of the date on the determination letter. Applicants or someone they designate to act on their behalf must explain in writing why they believe the initial decision was wrong and provide any new or additional information and documents that support the appeal.

Applicants who have questions about filing an appeal can call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362; TTY 800-462-7585; 711 Relay or Video Relay Services, call 800-621-3362.

Appeals can be mailed to:
FEMA – Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

Appeals can be faxed to:
800-827-8112
Attention: FEMA – Individuals & Households Program

Applicants may also visit a DRC, where specialists from FEMA and the SBA can help with appeals, answer questions, review applications and accept required documents.

DRCs are open in Lake and Calaveras counties:

The Lake County DRC in Middletown:
21256 Washington St.
Middletown, CA 95461
Hours of operation until further notice:
Tuesday, Sept. 29 – Tuesday, Oct. 6
8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The Calaveras County DRC in San Andreas:
891 Mountain Ranch Rd.
San Andreas, CA 95249
Hours of operation until further notice:
Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

New DRCs may be opening in the designated counties. To find their nearest location survivors can visit: fema.gov/drc.

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