FEMA: Understanding your determination letter

According to FEMA, residents applying for assistance from the storms/tornadoes/straight line winds from March 31-April 1, 2023, should be receiving a letter of determination in the mail. 

FEMA wants to clarify that although the letter may say that some residents are ineligible, it is not a denial.

The organization is asking applicants to read their letters carefully, as it should explain the assistance amount FEMA can provide, along with how to use these funds appropriately. 

The letters will also outline the steps needed to appeal an unfavorable decision.

Often, FEMA is only in need of additional documentation to continue reviewing your request for assistance, such as the following:

  • Proof of insurance coverage
  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of occupancy
  • Proof of ownership
  • Settlement of insurance claims or denial letter from insurance company
  • Proof of property damage of applicants primary residence at the time of disaster

Any questions can be directed to the Disaster Assistance Helpline at 1-800-621-3362. Where specialists are available from the hours of 6:00 am to midnight. (Central Standard Time)

Steps to appeal your FEMA determination:

Those individuals who disagree with FEMA’s decision or the assistance amount provided can submit an appeal letter along with documentation to support the claim, this may include the contractor’s estimate for repairs. Those choosing to appeal have 60 days from the date of the FEMA determination letter.

According to law, FEMA cannot provide grants when other sources such as insurance, crowdfunding or financial assistance from voluntary agencies have covered expenses for the same disaster-related need. For example: FEMA cannot pay for repairs, if you’ve already received funds from your insurance company for those same repairs.

However after insurance claims have been settled, FEMA may be able to supply assistance for unmet needs to those who are underinsured. While FEMA may provide assistance with basic needs, it does not cover expenses of insurance deductibles.

Appeals must be received in writing, in a letter dated and signed explaining the reasons for appeal.

It should also include:

  • Applicant’s full name
  • Disaster number (DR-4701-TN)
  • Address of the pre-disaster primary residence
  • Applicant’s current phone number and address
  • Your nine-digit FEMA application number on all documents

If an individual other than the applicant or co-applicant is providing the written appeal, that individual must sign it and provide FEMA with a signed statement authorizing them to act on the applicant’s behalf.

All appeals must be postmarked within 60 days of the date noted on the FEMA determination letter. Appeals, along with supporting documentation, can also be submitted by uploading it to your personal FEMA online account. Those needing to set up an account, visit DisasterAssistance.gov and follow the directions.

Documents can also be submitted by:

Mail: FEMA National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville MD 20782-7055

Fax: 800-827-8112 Attention: FEMA

For an American Sign Language video on how to apply, visit the link here.

Those individuals that have received a FEMA determination letter but did not apply for assistance, should call the Disaster Assistance Helpline at 800-621-3362. If an individual suspects they are a victim to a scam, it should be reported immediately to their local law enforcement agency.

FEMA also says that individuals may file a fraud complaint with the Tennessee Attorney General’s office by visiting the link here.

For more information on Tennessee’s storm and tornado recover, visit FEMA.gov/Disaster/4701. 

Categories: Local News