Every WV disaster applicant has right to appeal
If you registered for help from FEMA and got a letter (often called a “determination letter”), you may want to appeal the decision made regarding your application for federal assistance. Here are some tips to help you:
• Every disaster survivor has a right to appeal. Read your letter carefully all the way through to understand FEMA’s reason for its decision. This will allow you to know exactly why to appeal. Appeals must be made in writing and sent by mail or fax to FEMA within 60 days of receiving the letter.
• It’s important to submit insurance information. If your coverage is not enough to make essential home repairs, provide a place to stay, or replace certain contents, FEMA can review your application. But you must provide documents from your insurance company that detail your settlement. Remember also that FEMA cannot duplicate homeowners’ or renters’ insurance benefits. Contact your insurance company if you need settlement documents.
• Prove occupancy. If you’re a homeowner or renter, FEMA can reconsider you for grants if you provide documents that prove the damaged structure was your main residence. You can prove this was your main home with utility bills, a driver’s license or a copy of your lease. You cannot receive federal disaster assistance for secondary or vacation homes.
• Prove ownership. If you can prove you own the home, FEMA can reconsider you for grants to make a structure safe, sanitary and functional. Documents you can submit to prove ownership may include mortgage or insurance documents, tax receipts or a deed. If you don’t have a deed handy, speak to your local or county officials about obtaining a copy.
• There are many other reasons you may disagree with a decision. If you registered you should have received a booklet called “Help after a Disaster” that details how FEMA determines who’s eligible for assistance. You can also access the booklet online at www.fema.gov/help-after-disaster. The booklet lists what information you need to include when appealing.
• Mail or fax appeal documents within 60 days of receiving your FEMA determination letter to FEMA National Processing Service Center, P.O. Box 10055, Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055 or fax documents to 800-827-8112.
If you have any questions about your determination letter or any other disaster recovery issues you may always call the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362 (voice, 711 or video relay services) or 800-462-7585 (TTY). Lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT seven days a week until further notice. Or you may go online at DisasterAssistance.gov or visit a Disaster Recovery Center. Find the closest one by going online: www.fema.gov/drc.
West Virginia disaster survivors are reminded that the deadline to register for FEMA assistance is Wednesday, Sept 7.
Tell FEMA if you need more rental aid
Thousands of West Virginians were displaced from their homes by the June 22-29 severe storms, floods, landslides and mudslides. FEMA gave grants to more than 2,500 households to help them pay for a temporary place to live. If your household received rental assistance from FEMA, you must let FEMA know if you have a continuing need for it.
Perhaps repairs to your home may be completed and you can move back in. If you’re seeking a new home, you may have found it. However, your home may not be ready to return to or you may not yet have found more permanent housing. If that is your situation, you can ask FEMA for additional rental assistance.
You should have received a letter explaining the process and a form to fill out and return to FEMA along with:
• Utility bills from before and after the disaster.
• If you are a renter, a copy of your pre-disaster lease.
• For renters or homeowners, a copy of the current lease or rental agreement signed by the person who applied for FEMA assistance and the landlord.
• Rental receipts, canceled checks or money orders showing that you used your rental assistance to pay rent or a security deposit.
• Income statements from before and after the disaster for all wage earners living in the household.
You must complete the FEMA application to apply for continued rental assistance. FEMA evaluates the information to determine if your household has a financial need for additional assistance.
If you need more information or help with completing your application, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362. The line is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. EDT, seven days a week until further notice. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362.
You may also find help at a State-FEMA Disaster Recovery Center. To find the one nearest to you, call the helpline, 800-621-3362, or go online to fema.gov/drc locator.
Greenbrier County DRCs close
The Disaster Recovery Centers (DRCs) in White Sulphur Springs and Rainelle closed Wednesday, Aug. 31.
As a survivor of the June storms and floods, you can still get the help you need with just a phone call. The deadline to register for disaster assistance from FEMA is Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Many of the services that were available at the DRCs are still available on the FEMA helpline. The helpline operates from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. EDT, seven days a week, until further notice. By calling 800-621-3362 (voice, 711 or video relay services) or 800-462-7585 for TTY users, you can use the helpline to:
• Register with FEMA.
• Provide a change of address, telephone and bank account numbers and insurance information.
• Receive information about FEMA home inspections.
• Get other questions answered about federal disaster assistance.
• Ask questions about a letter from FEMA.
• Learn how to appeal a FEMA decision. All applicants may appeal.
You can also register with FEMA online at DisasterAssistance.gov.
If you want to discuss your application, you should have your nine-digit FEMA registration number and zip code.
For more information about the Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, call SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.sba.gov/disaster. TTY users may call 800-877-8339. Applicants may also apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
SBA disaster low-interest loans are available to businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters for their recovery needs.
The deadline to apply for a physical damage disaster loan from the SBA is Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Additional information on West Virginia’s disaster recovery can be found by visiting fema.gov/disaster/4273, twitter.com/femaregion3, twitter.com/FEMA and fema.gov/blog.