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FEMA releases guidelines on understanding your determination letter

CENTRAL COAST, Calif. (KION-TV)- The Federal Emergency Management Agency released guidelines on Monday morning to help residents impacted by the winter storms know if they qualify for federal assistance.

FEMA officials said that California residents who applied for assistance for the severe storms that took place in February and March are expected to receive a determination letter on whether or not they qualify for assistance.

The letter will be sent via mail or through a person's account. If you are eligible for FEMA assistance, the letter will state the dollar amount of your
grant and how the funds should be used.

FEMA explains five reasons why some people could get denied assistance.

  1. Your insurance provider can cover the property damaged or lost as a result of the storms.
  2. Damages to the property may not rise to the need for federal assistance.
  3. The damaged home may not be a primary residence.
  4. FEMA assistance would constitute a duplication of benefits from other sources.
  5. FEMA inspectors have been unable to reach applicants at the contact information provided.

Also, applicants could forget to include missing documentation in their application, which includes

proof of insurance coverage, settlement of insurance claims, and proof that the damaged property is the applicant's primary residence.

If you do get denied assistance, FEMA says you have 60 days to appeal the decision. The 60-day deadline will start when you receive your FEMA determination letter.

For residents submitting an appeal, FEMA says it is better to include insurance letters, proof of occupancy, and proof of ownership such as mortgage or insurance documents.

You can mail, fax, or upload your appeal letter within the 60-day deadline. Do not forget to sign and date your appeal and also include your nine-digit FEMA application number, your disaster number (DR-4699-CA), and documents you can show as proof.

Once you send an appeal, you can expect a decision letter within 90 days after FEMA receives it.

If you have questions about your FEMA letter, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362.

Free crisis counseling services are also available to help disaster survivors cope with trauma.

You can call or text the free Disaster Distress Help Line at 1-800-985-5990. The program provides counseling and support 24/7 and 365 days a year. You can also visit for more info on the Disaster Distress Help Line.

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Derrick Ow

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