Appealing a FEMA decision
Last updated on 04/21/2021 at 5:13 pm
This legal information was developed by Legal Aid of West Virginia staff supported, in part, by a grant from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.
What if I do not agree with the amount of money that FEMA is going to give me?
You filed a FEMA application. FEMA inspected your house or apartment. FEMA decided how much money they will give you to repair your home, to obtain temporary housing, or to pay for a disaster-related expense.
You may not feel that the amount FEMA is giving you is enough to cover your damages. Sometimes FEMA will find that people are not eligible for any money at all. If you do not agree with FEMA’s decision, you have the right to file an appeal.
How do I file an appeal?
You need to write an appeal letter to FEMA. Your appeal letter needs to have the following information:
- A written explanation of why you do not agree with FEMA’s decision and why you believe you should receive more financial help.
- If you have any new information, you should make sure that FEMA has it. New information could be pictures of the damages, estimates of how much the repairs would cost, an estimate of how long it may take to make repairs, and receipts for repairs already done.
- Copies of any documents or statements that show or explain why you should receive more financial help.
- You must sign the letter in front of a notary or in place of a notary, you can write the following sentence: “I hereby declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.” Then sign the letter.
- You need to include a copy of a government-issued identification card (driver’s license, passport).
- You need to write: your full name, current address, address of the damaged property, your date of birth, your place of birth, the last four digits of your Social Security number, and your disaster and FEMA application numbers on the front page.
- All other pages (including statements and receipts) should have your full name, the last four digits of your Social Security number, and your disaster and FEMA application numbers written on them.
- FEMA usually makes their decision based on the written documents.
- You should address your appeal letter to: FEMA Individuals & Households Program.
If you go here, you can find an online form that you can use to fill out a FEMA appeal. You will be able to print out the form and then you will have to mail or fax the appeal to FEMA.
You should mail your appeal letter to:
FEMA Individuals & Households Program National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-8055
You should make a copy of the letter for your records. You should send your letter by certified mail and return receipt so that you will have proof that FEMA received it and the date that they received it.
You can also fax your appeal letter to:
Attn: FEMA-Individuals & Households Program
You should keep a copy of the letter and the fax transmittal sheet so that you have proof that FEMA received the fax and the date that they received it.
How much time do I have to file an appeal?
You need to postmark and mail or fax your appeal letter within 60 days of the date on your Notice of Decision. The sixty days starts from the date on the notice, not the date you received the letter.
If you are over 60 days, but think you have a good excuse for not appealing earlier, send your letter anyway and explain why it is late. For example, some reasons for a late appeal can include: illness, hospitalization, unable to get estimate from contractors, travel, etc.
How can I check on the status of my appeal?
To check the status of your appeal on line, go to http://www.disasterassistance.gov and click on “Check Your Application Status.” Or call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362.
Is an appeal the only way for me to dispute FEMA's decision?
Not necessarily. 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 call FEMA at 1-800-621-3362 to ask for clarification. You may still have to file an appeal.
What if I need additional help?
You can call FEMA’s Disaster Hotline at: 1-800-621-3362. Or contact Legal Aid of West Virginia to apply for help.