FEMA determination letter may not be last word on disaster assistance

Storm and flood survivors who applied for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and received a letter or text message about the status of their application, should know this first communication may not be the last word.

It’s important to read your determination letter carefully, all the way through, to clarify why your application was labeled “ineligible” or “incomplete.” Very often ineligibility can be resolved quickly. In fact, the most common reasons for this determination are:

  • The application may be incomplete. More information or documentation is needed;
  • The applicant did not sign the required documents;
  • The applicant did not prove occupancy or ownership;
  • The damage is to a secondary home or a rental property – not a primary residence;
  • Someone else in the household has already applied for and received assistance;
  • More information may be needed from an insurance company, or
  • The applicant may have adequate insurance coverage. If a survivor has insurance, FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments. However, under-insured applicants may receive further assistance for unmet needs after insurance claims have been settled.

You should always follow-up — don’t just give up. You can usually provide missing information online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462-7585). Multi-lingual operators are available.  The toll-free numbers are open daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (EST). Survivors may check the status of their applications or update their contact information at these same numbers.

Applicants ineligible for FEMA grants may still be eligible for other programs, such as Disaster Unemployment Assistance.

Applicants may be referred to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), where low-interest disaster loans are available to businesses of all sizes, private nonprofits, homeowners and renters.

SBA disaster loans can help fund repair or replacement costs not covered by insurance or other sources. Applicants may apply online at SBA.gov/disaster or, for more information, contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955.