Applicants have 60 days to appeal

GUAYNABO, Puerto Rico — FEMA encourages residents who registered for disaster assistance and received a recoupment letter to read these official communications carefully and take action immediately.

Recoupment is necessary when the money was used inappropriately, there is duplication of benefits, funds were obtained by fraud or financial aid was provided by error.

“We recommend that anyone who receives a Notice of Potential Debt Letter or a recoupment letter to review them and submit an appeal within 60 days from the date of the letter. Many times, these issues can be resolved by providing additional documentation to support the claim,” said the External Affairs Director for FEMA in Puerto Rico, Juan Andrés Muñoz Torres.

Applicants may call the Recoupment Helpline at 1-800-816-1122, from Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Puerto Rico time), added Muñoz Torres.

Residents who may be undergoing a recoupment process for one disaster are still eligible to apply for FEMA assistance in another disaster.

It is important to take recoupment letters seriously and act within the allowable timeframe since FEMA does not accept late appeals for recoupment. If the applicant does not appeal, or appeals unsuccessfully, the debt is certified to the FEMA Finance Center (FFC) for debt collection activity. The FEMA Finance Center sends applicants a Notice of Debt Letter informing them of their debt and various options to resolve the it. Under certain circumstances, the FEMA Finance Center may grant a debt wavier. Applicants can call the Center at 1-866-804-2469.

If the applicant does not respond to the FEMA Finance Center’s debt collection efforts, the debt is transferred to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for collection enforcement. At this stage, applicants can contact the Treasury Debt Management Services at 888-826-3127 for more information.

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