Disaster survivors may appeal FEMA determination letter


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – People who registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency following Hurricane Irma and received a determination letter regarding their eligibility for assistance should read the letter carefully. It might not be the final answer.

They may just need to submit extra documents for FEMA to process their application.

Examples of missing documentation may include an insurance settlement letter, proof of residence, proof of ownership of the damaged property and proof that the damaged property was the primary residence at the time of the disaster.

FEMA says every survivor has the right to appeal. By appealing, survivors are asking FEMA to review their case. Appeals must be submitted in writing within 60 days of receipt of the letter determining eligibility.

There are several reasons why survivors may be determined to be ineligible.
FEMA’s letter may refer to: 

  • “Ownership not proven” -- Survivors should submit one of the following:
    • Title or deed
    • Tax assessment documentation
    • Mortgage payment letter
    • Other documents proving ownership of the home
  • “No contact for inspection”
    • Call the FEMA helpline and provide a current phone number and best time to be reached.
  • “Failed identity verification” -- Survivors should submit documents to verify identity:
    • Medicare forms
    • Current payroll check stub
    • U.S. passport
    • Valid driver’s license
  • “Linked for duplicate review” -- Survivors should submit documents proving they were not living with or assisted by another person who applied for assistance at their address.
  • “Ineligible insured” -- Survivors should submit the following documents to prove they are uninsured or underinsured for damage:
    • Insurance settlement documents
    • A denial letter
    • Any other supporting information

To ensure accuracy and help FEMA process appeals, survivors will need to include the following information in their letter:

  • Full name
  • Address of the damaged property
  • Current contact information
  • Disaster number: DR-4337-FL
  • Last four digits of their Social Security number
  • Birthdate and place of birth
  • Nine-digit FEMA registration number on each page and on supporting documentation
  • Notarization of the letter including a copy of a state-issued identification card, or include the following statement, “I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.”
  • A signature

If someone other than the survivor or the co-applicant is writing the letter, they must sign a statement affirming that that person may act on their behalf. FEMA suggests that survivors keep a copy of their appeal for their records.

Survivors may submit missing documentation to FEMA online, by mail or fax, or in person at a disaster recovery center. To find a DRC, go to www.fema.gov/disaster-recovery-centers or call the FEMA Helpline. DRC information is also available on the FEMA Mobile App.    

Anyone with questions is asked to call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 for voice, 711 and Video Relay Service (VRS). Survivors who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY, can call 800-462-7585. Phone lines are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, until further notice.

Mail appeal letters to:

  • FEMA -- Individuals & Households Program
    National Processing Service Center
    P.O. Box 10055
    Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055

Survivors may fax appeal letters to:

  • 800-827-8112
    Attention: FEMA -- Individuals and Households Program

Survivors will get a written response from FEMA regarding the agency’s decision within 90 days of the receipt of their letter. FEMA’s decision is final and cannot be appealed again.

For more recovery information, visit www.FEMA.gov/IrmaFL or follow @FEMARegion4 on Twitter and on FEMA’s Facebook page.