Here, learn about appealing a decision made by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) regarding disaster assistance. This article provides steps and an interactive tool for filing an appeal and answers common questions about the process. It also includes information about what documents may be helpful to include in an appeal.
Special thanks to National Disaster Legal Aid Resource Center. This content is reproduced from the Center's material.
How to Appeal Your FEMA Decision
You can use this interactive interview tool to create a FEMA appeal letter.
An appeal is a written request to review your file again with additional information you provide that may affect the decision. You may appeal any decision provided by FEMA regarding your Individual Assistance.
Appeals may relate to your initial eligibility decisions, the amount or type of assistance provided to you, late applications, requests to return money, or a denial of Continued Temporary Housing Assistance.
Before requesting an appeal review, you should review your file with a FEMA helpline agent at 800-621-3362 (FEMA), or (TTY) 800-462-7585, or request a copy of your file from FEMA so you can understand why you received the decision you want to appeal.
What is the deadline for filing an appeal?
Your appeal letter must be postmarked within 60 days of the date of FEMA's decision letter.
Is an appeal the only way for me to dispute FEMA's decision?
No. An initial decision letter from FEMA denying assistance is not the last word. If your circumstances have changed, if FEMA's decision does not make sense to you, or if additional information has become available that may entitle you to assistance, you can visit a FEMA disaster assistance center or call 800-621-3362 to ask for clarification.
I sent FEMA additional documents but have not heard back and the 60-day appeal period is almost over. Should I still file an appeal?
Yes, you should send in your appeal before the 60-day deadline and explain the circumstances in the letter.
What if it has been more than 60 days?
If you think you have a good excuse for not appealing earlier, send your letter anyway and explain why it is late.
FEMA granted me rental assistance but denied assistance for repair of my home. Should I file an appeal?
Yes. If the damage to your home was not covered by insurance and you believe you are eligible, you should appeal.
What documents do I need to file an appeal?
Collecting the following documents before you start your appeal may make the process easier:
- Decision letter from FEMA in response to your request for assistance;
- If you rent your apartment or home, a copy of the lease;
- Homeowners or flood insurance policy and any correspondence to/from the insurer regarding denial or settlement of the claim;
- Rent receipts or other proof of payment for alternate housing (if FEMA denied rental assistance);
- Correspondence from the Small Business Administration demonstrating ineligibility for a loan;
- Estimates, contracts, receipts, cancelled checks, or other proof of expenditures for home repair, personal property replacement, moving and storage costs, medical or dental treatment, or funeral expenses; and/or
- Inspection reports, photographs, or other proof that your home was made uninhabitable by the storm.
Read more on how to Appeal your FEMA Decision on disasterlegalaid.org.
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