Hearing process and procedures
Downloads & Contact
This information is intended only for individuals who are scheduled for FEMA debt collection appeal hearings.
Debt collection is necessary when FEMA assistance is used inappropriately, there is duplication, funds are obtained through fraud, or assistance is provided in error.
After each disaster, FEMA reviews disaster relief payments to ensure that taxpayer dollars have been properly spent. In a small percentage of cases, FEMA finds that disaster relief may have been awarded to applicants who were ineligible for some or all of the money they received.
FEMA notifies claimants in writing when it identifies and verifies payments to be collected. Claimants may appeal the decision in writing and request a hearing within 60 days from the date notified. FEMA will convene an oral hearing when it determines that the debt issue cannot be resolved by review of the paper record alone, for example, when the validity of the debt depends on a question of credibility or veracity.
The hearing is an opportunity for you to present relevant evidence (for example, testimony or additional documents) to support your claim.
Plaintiff’s pre-hearing actions
Hearing process and procedures
Hearings are held by telephone. FEMA does not record calls.
Hearings are assigned to a hearings officer who has never been involved in your case. The Hearing Officer will conduct hearings in a fair and impartial manner. The hearing officer reviews the issues in detail, interviews the FEMA representative and/or investigator, yourself and any additional witnesses, and accepts as evidence all documents relevant to the case.
The following generally describes the course of a hearing.
You can expect to receive the hearings officer’s final decision in writing within 45 calendar days of the hearing.
This decision is a final and non-appealable administrative action within FEMA. If you disagree with the hearings officer’s decision, you can consult a lawyer.
If you are unavailable for the hearing date and time and need to reschedule the hearing, you must submit a written request to reschedule as soon as possible before the scheduled hearing date. Your request must explain why you are unable to attend. Requests for postponements due to missed hearings may be considered but must be submitted within seven (7) calendar days of the hearing.
The hearings officer will postpone the hearing if you show good cause for the request, but may deny repeat requests. In some cases, the Hearing Officer may ask you to submit documents in support of your claim.
Send your appointment request
Chief Counsel’s Office
500 C Street, Southwest, Suite 840
Washington, D.C. 20472-3515
If you fail to attend a hearing, the Hearing Officer has the discretion to:
- Return the case to FEMA specialist personnel for further processing, or
- Render a decision based on the record.
Authorization to disclose information under the Privacy Act
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Individual Assistance Program and Policy Guidance (IAPPG)
To find out the status of your case, update your contact information, or if you have additional questions, call:
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET
If you use video relay service, captioned telephone service, or other communication services, please provide FEMA with the specific number assigned to that service.