Hearing Process & Procedures
Downloads & Contact
This information is intended only for individuals who are scheduled for FEMA debt collection (recoupment) appeal hearings.
Debt collection is necessary when FEMA assistance is used inappropriately, there is duplication of benefits, funds are obtained by fraud, or assistance is provided in error.
After every disaster, FEMA reviews disaster assistance payments to ensure taxpayer dollars were properly spent. In a small percentage of the cases, FEMA finds that disaster assistance may have been given to applicants who were not eligible for some or all the money they received.
FEMA notifies applicants in writing when it identifies and verifies payments that must be collected. Applicants can appeal the decision in writing and request a hearing within 60 days from the date notified. FEMA will schedule an oral hearing when it determines that the question of the debt cannot be resolved solely by review of the paper file, for example, when the validity of the debt turns on an issue of credibility or veracity.
The hearing is an opportunity for you to present relevant evidence (e.g., testimony or additional documents) to support your claim.
Applicant Pre-Hearing Actions
Hearing Process and Procedures
Hearings are held by telephone. FEMA does not record the calls.
Hearings are assigned to a Hearing Officer who has had no prior involvement in your case. The Hearing Officer will conduct hearings in a fair and impartial manner. The Hearing Officer looks fully into the issues, questions the FEMA representative and/or investigator, you, and any additional witnesses, and accepts as evidence any documents that are relevant to the case.
The following generally describes how a hearing will proceed.
You may expect to receive the Hearing Officer’s final agency determination in writing within 45 calendar days of the hearing.
This decision is a final administrative action and not appealable within FEMA. If you disagree with the Hearing Officer’s decision, you may want to consult with an attorney.
If you are not available at the date and time of the hearing and need to reschedule, you must submit a written request to reschedule as soon as possible before the scheduled hearing date. Your request must explain why you are not able to attend. Rescheduling requests following missed hearings may be considered but must be submitted within seven (7) calendar days of the hearing.
The Hearing Officer will reschedule the hearing if you demonstrate good cause for the request but may deny repeated requests. In some cases, the Hearing Officer may ask that you submit documentation to support your request.
Send Your Scheduling Request
Oral Hearing Officer
Office of Chief Counsel
500 C Street, SW, Suite 840
Washington, D.C. 20472-3515
If you do not attend a hearing, the Hearing Officer has the discretion to either:
- Return the file to FEMA’s specialized staff for further processing, or
- Issue a decision based on the record.
Authorization for the Release of Information under the Privacy Act
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Individual Assistance Program and Policy Guidance (IAPPG)
To get the status of your case, update your contact information, or if you have additional questions, call:
Monday – Friday
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET
If you use a video relay service, captioned telephone service, or other communication services, please provide FEMA the specific number assigned for that service.