7 Reasons Why FEMA Denied You For Wildfire Disaster Assistance

FEMA denied aid

How you can appeal if you are FEMA denied wildfire or flood disaster assistance. 

FEMA cannot pay for damage covered by insurance or duplicate benefits from another source.

The following information is posted on FEMA's website about common denial issues and how you can appeal:

FEMA grants are meant for costs to return your home to a safe, sanitary, and functional. This means your home is habitable. Damage to non-essential space or property is not eligible under FEMA programs. If you have questions about the type of damage eligible under FEMA programs, you can call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call 800-621-3362.

7 Common Reasons for FEMA Wildfire Disaster Assistance Ineligibility

  1. You are insured. Contact FEMA if your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet your disaster-related needs or if you have exhausted the Additional Living Expenses provided by your insurance company.
  2. Your insurance company denies your claim. You must provide documentation that identifies the denial or exclusions of your insurance settlement before FEMA will consider your assistance eligibility.
  3. You reported no home damage when you registered with FEMA. If you reported your home had no damage but later discovered it’s not habitable anymore, contact FEMA to let them know. It helps to get documentation to support your appeal such as a letter from a contractor or local official that says the home is not safe to live in. They should also include the estimated cost needed to repair the home.
  4. Home is safe to occupy. FEMA housing assistance typically only covers costs to make your home habitable. Damage to non-essential space, landscaping, or spoiled food is usually not covered by FEMA grants.
  5. Proof of occupancy. When FEMA is unable to verify occupancy of your primary residence, you may provide FEMA with documentation, such as utility bills, a bank or credit card statement, phone bill, pay stubs, a driver’s license, state-issued ID card or voter registration card showing the damaged dwelling’s address.
  6. FEMA could not verify your identity. FEMA must be able to verify your identity with a valid Social Security number. By verifying identity, FEMA prevents fraud and ensures you receive eligible disaster assistance. To verify identity, you may provide FEMA with documents, such as a copy of your Social Security card if accompanied by federal or state-issued identification, a U.S. passport, military identification, or certain documentation from the Social Security Administration.
  7. No initial rental assistance. You indicated to the inspector that you were not willing to move while your damaged home was being repaired. This made you ineligible for FEMA temporary rental assistance. However, you may have since found further damage to your home that may require you to move. Since your housing needs have changed, contact FEMA as soon as possible to update your housing status and explain why you have need to relocate.

If you live in an apartment building and the owner requires you to leave so repairs can be made to the building, you should update your status with FEMA. You may be eligible for assistance.

Everyone has a right to appeal

Send a signed, written description explaining why you think FEMA's decision is wrong and copies of any documentation supporting your appeal, including evidence of your disaster damages if you believe the amount or form of assistance is wrong.

If your letter is written by someone other than you or a co-applicant, that person must sign the letter of appeal and you must provide FEMA with a signed declaration authorizing that person to act on your behalf.

All submitted documents should include your full name, your FEMA application number and catastrophe number, your pre-disaster primary residence address and your current phone number and address. Request numbers and catastrophe numbers are written above your name and address on page 1 of your letter of determination.

Instructions to submit your appeal

There are four ways you can submit your letter and documents. Be sure to include the cover letter you received from FEMA when you submit them:

1. Mail documents and your letter within 60 days of receiving your determination letter to the address below. Your letter with accompanying documents must be postmarked within 60 days of the date on your letter from FEMA regarding your eligibility.

FEMA National Processing Service Center

P.O. Box 10055

Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

2. Fax them to 800-827-8112

3. Upload them online at disasterassistance.gov if you have a FEMA online account. To set up a FEMA online account, visit the site click on “Check Your Application and Log In” and follow the directions.

4. Visit a FEMA drive-thru Disaster Recovery Center. The center operates under strict COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of all participants. Masks or face coverings are required for entry and service. You will remain in your car. A specialist wearing a face mask will receive your documents through the window and return them to you. Find your closest center by calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585, by going online to disasterassistance.gov or by downloading the FEMA app.

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