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FEMA Denial Doesn’t Always Mean Applicant Is Ineligible

Lindsey Kilbride
Jacksonville Ken Knight Drive residents' homes were flooded during Hurricane Irma.

Those affected by Hurricane Irma who apply for FEMA disaster assistance, shouldn’t consider an initial denial of aid the final word.

That’s what FEMA Spokeswoman Nikki Gaskins said the organization is stressing. She said a denial letter doesn’t necessarily mean the applicant isn’t eligible for the aid.  

“Sometimes it can be just simply an indication that further information is needed,” she said. ”We have seen where some people don’t fully understand the process, they don’t complete the application.”

She said in other cases, the applicant’s insurance claim needs to be settled first before disaster aid can be granted. FEMA has to know what hurricane victims’ insurance covers because it can’t duplicate insurance payments.

Gaskins said those scenarios can result in FEMA notifying the applicant they’re ineligible. She recommends applicants read their denial letters carefully, as they may explain the problems that could be corrected.

People can update their applications by calling FEMA at (800) 621-3362 or going to a FEMA Recovery Center.

Gaskin said everyone has the right to appeal any type of FEMA decision.

“But if they are going to appeal,” she said, “it’s so critical that they know they have to do it within 60 days from the date posted on the letter they received.”

Appeals may relate to eligibility, the amount or type of help provided, a late application, a request to return money, or continuing help.

The appeal letter should explain why the applicant thinks the decision about the amount or type of assistance is incorrect. They’ll also need to include their full name, the nine digit FEMA registration number and the four digit disaster number.

The letter will also need to be dated, signed and include a copy of a state-issued ID card. If that isn’t possible, the applicant can instead write “I hereby declare under the penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.”

The letter can be sent to the FEMA National Processing Service Center at P. O. Box 10055 Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance is November 9.

Thursday at 9 a.m. on WJCT’s First Coast Connect a FEMA spokesman and a Public Affairs Specialist with the U.S. Small Business Administration will be on the show answering live calls.

Lindsey Kilbride can be reached at, 904-358-6359 or on Twitter at @lindskilbride.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.