FEMA Appeals

Authored By: Lagniappe Law Lab


FEMA Appeal Process and Information

Once an applicant understands the reason for being ineligible, they can decide whether to appeal the decision. To do so, they need to submit all required information along with a letter describing in detail their reason (or reasons) for appealing. It’s important to read the determination letter carefully to identify the reason for being declared ineligible. Some common reasons include:

  • The person is insured and needs to provide an insurance settlement or denial to be considered for assistance

  • Additional information is needed from the survivor, i.e. proof of identity, proof of occupancy, annual income, or a child care assistance letter

  • There were multiple registrations using the same address

  • Damages occurred to a secondary residence (where the survivor lives less than six

    months of the year)

  • The home is safe to occupy, and/or personal property had minimal or no damages

  • Missed inspections and no follow-up communication with FEMA

  • FEMA is unable to contact the applicant

  • Insufficient Coverage. It is also possible that FEMA may have provided insufficient assistance for the damages incurred.

If the applicant has received a letter from FEMA saying that they are ineligible for disaster relief or that the application is incomplete, they have the right to appeal the decision within 60 days of receiving the mailed notification. An appeal is a written request to review the file again with additional information provided by the applicant that may affect the decision. The ability to appeal is time-sensitive. The appeal must be faxed or postmarked within 60 days of the date of FEMA's decision letter. This term can be extended based on extenuating circumstances.

The letter should be clear as to whether FEMA provided assistance, the amount, and the date when the assistance was received. Whether it is a denial or an insufficient award for damages, the letter should explain why the determination is incorrect. It should include a narrative of the damages to the real estate and personal property. This mechanism may also be used to request a re-opening of a case closed for alleged inactivity.

It is also recommended to include information about the date of the application and the date of receipt of the negative determination letter (or of the other communications sent requesting the determination letter).

The appeal should explain in writing why the applicant disagrees with the decision. It may include documents that support the applicant’s explanation: for example, a contractor’s estimate showing how much it will cost to repair your home.

The Appeal Must Include:

  • Applicant’s full name and signature

  • Last 4 digits of the Social Security Number

  • Date of Birth

  • FEMA registration number

  • Physical address of the damaged property

  • Current mailing address

  • Disaster number

  • Request the FEMA File

Request the Full File

In addition to the appeal letter, the applicant should request a complete copy of their file. The determinations made by FEMA are made exclusively based on the applicant’s file. This is particularly useful if letters have been lost documents or letters from FEMA were not received.

Include Attachments

The appeal letter is not usually enough. The letter should be accompanied by supporting documentation. For example, it should include the expenses incurred after the disaster to either repair your home or replace personal property. It should also include quotes related to the repairs and the corresponding sworn affidavits. This is

FEMA recommends the following documentation, although this list is not exhaustive:

  • Denial Reason Acceptable Documentation

    • Official government document (social security statement, etc.)

  • Identity not verified

    • Copy of driver’s license

  • Ownership not verified

    • Deed, title, or official record

    • Real estate tax bill or receipt

    • Will or proof of inheritance

    • Mortgage statement

    • Proof of insurance coverage (settlement or denial), or statement from the insurance provider

  • Occupancy not verified

    • Official government documents (social security statements, etc.)

    • Copy of driver’s license

    • Landlord’s statement or copy of the lease

    • Rent receipts

    • Utility bill reflecting damaged residence address

    • Voter registration card or merchant’s statement

  • Insufficient damage/ Damage not disaster-caused

    • Contractor’s statement or estimate

    • Mechanic’s statement or estimate

    • Statement from local official

    • Receipts for expenses caused by the disaster

  • Insurance may cover losses

    • Receipts for expenses caused by the disaster

    • Proof of insurance coverage (settlement or denial), or statement from the insurance provider

Under Oath and Signed

  • You can have your letter notarized. If you choose this option, please include 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.” You must sign the letter.

To file an appeal, letters must be postmarked, received by fax, or personally submitted at a disaster recovery center within 60 days of the date you received the FEMA determination letter.

3 ways to submit it:

  • Online by uploading to your account.

  • By mail: FEMA – Individuals & Households Program National Processing Service

    Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055.

  • By fax 800-827-8112, Attention: FEMA – Individuals & Households Program

  • If you have questions, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Services may call 800-621-3362. Those who use TTY may call 800- 462-7585. Operators are available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time seven days a week

Last Review and Update: Sep 12, 2022
Back to top