Denial letter from FEMA may not be final word

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2006

BATON ROUGE – Some Louisiana victims of Hurricane Katrina and/or Rita may be getting the wrong message after receiving letters from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency saying their applications have been denied.

In most cases, these letters may not be the last word for those who decide to appeal the denial decision.

The denial letter applies only to the programs that the letter refers to.

If the individual received an application from SBA, it should be filled out and returned. If the SBA cannot offer a loan, the individual will be referred back to FEMA for possible assistance.

Those who receive denial letters from FEMA deeming them ineligible because of insurance may later receive assistance if their insurance settlements aren’t for full disaster damage.

Applicants should contact their insurance companies and request settlement letters detailing exactly what was covered under their claims. Insurance settlement information, as well as any new or additional information gained since the initial application for disaster assistance was filed, should be mailed by the applicant to the address provided in the letter from FEMA.

&#8220Applicants who wish to appeal a decision may do so in writing within 60 days from the date of the decision or date of the denial letter,” said Scott Wells, the federal coordinating officer. &#8220Guidelines for appeals can be found in the Applicant’s Handbook sent to everyone who registers with FEMA.”

If, after you review your denial letter, you still do not agree with the decision about your application, you can follow the following steps to appeal.

Explain in writing why you think the decision about the amount or type of assistance you received is not correct. You, or someone who represents you or your household, should sign that letter.

If the person writing the letter is not a member of your household, there must be a signed statement saying that this person is acting for you.

Include the FEMA registration number and disaster number (shown at the top of your decision letter) in your letter of appeal.

Mail your appeal to:

FEMA – Individuals & Households Program

National Processing Service Center

P.O. Box 10055

Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

You can fax your appeal letter to: (800) 827-8112, Attention: FEMA – Individuals & Households Program

IMPORTANT: To be considered by IHP, your appeal letter must be postmarked within 60 days of the date of the decision letter’s date. Remember to date your letter.

If you need information about your case, you or someone from your household may request a copy of the information in your file by writing to:

FEMA – Records Management

National Processing Service Center

P.O. Box 10055

Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

If someone outside of your household is submitting the request for you, then the request also must contain a statement signed by you giving that person your authorization to request this information.

FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program.