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How to appeal an ineligible FEMA request for disaster assistance

(KWWL) - Following last month's derecho, many Iowa residents continue to work to pick up the pieces and are looking towards the Federal Emergency Management Agency for assistance.

However, Iowans who did sustain damage may receive a letter saying they are ineligible for disaster assistance; a decision that can be appealed if residents or homeowners disagree.

All applicants have the right to appeal. Often times a simple quick fix could be the key to receiving assistance. It's important to read the information provided by FEMA carefully to clarify why the application was labeled "ineligible" or "incomplete."

Common Reasons for Inelgibility

  • You are insured. Contact FEMA if your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet disaster-related needs or if you've already used the Additional Living Expenses provided.
  • Your insurance company denies your claim. Documentation identifying the denial or exclusions of your insurance settlement must be provided before FEMA will consider eligibility.
  • You reported no home damage when you registered. If at first you reported no damage to your home, but later discovered it is uninhabitable, contact FEMA to let them know.
  • The home is safe to occupy. Housing assistance typically only covers costs to make a home habitable.
  • Proof of occupancy. Documentation like utility bills, a bank or credit card statement, phone bill, pay stubs, a driver's license, state-issued ID, or voter registration card can all verify your occupancy.
  • Your identity could not be verified. FEMA will ask for the last four digits of your social security number. If that information cannot be provided, the agency will ask for your date of birth along with other verifiable information.
  • No initial rental assistance. At first, you told the inspector you were not willing to move while your damaged home was being repaired, making you ineligible for FEMA temporary rental assistance. Since then, you may have found further damage requiring you to move.

Necessary Documents for Appeal

To make the process easier on yourself and on FEMA, the following documents should be gathered before starting your appeal.

  • Decision letter from FEMA in response to your initial request for assistance
  • A copy of the lease if you rent your apartment or home
  • Homeowners or flood insurance policy
  • Rent receipts or other proof of payment for alternate housing
  • Estimates, contracts, receipts, cancelled checks or other proof of expenses for home repair
  • Inspection reports, photographs or other proof your home was made uninhabitable by the storm

A letter with any additional documentation, asking for FEMA reconsideration must be done within 60 days of the date of your ineligibility letter. Late appeals will be considered with a written or verbal explanation as to why the appeal was late. Letters can be sent in one of the following ways:

  • By mail: FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program, National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville MD 20782-7055.
  • By fax: 1-800-827-8112.
  • Online via a FEMA online account: to set up an online account, visit www.DisasterAssistance.gov, click on “Check Status” and follow the directions.

Meg Swanson

News Content Producer

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