Almost six months after Hurricane Sandy, many people are still fighting FEMA for the benefits they feel they deserve, and the new, free website FEMAappeals.org is walking people through the process. NY1's Real Estate reporter Jill Urban filed the following report.
Nearly six months since Hurricane Sandy, many people affected by the storm are still battling with FEMA to get the benefits they feel they deserve. New Yorkers who have been denied benefits or feel they did not get enough can go to the new website FEMAappeals.org to get through the appeals process.
"FEMAappeals.org is a website that helps people who have applied for emergency benefits from FEMA and have been denied or receive awards that are lower than they think they deserve that helps them walk through the process of filing an effective appeal," says O'Brian, the website's creator.
There are tens of thousands of people who have applied for benefits who have been denied or just didn't get enough to get back on their feet," according to O'Brian.
Many cannot even understand the reason they were denied, let alone write an effective appeal, so the site virtually does all the work for them.
"The centerpiece of the FEMAappeals.org website is an avatar walks you down the road, collecting all the information that you would need to get across the story of the type of damage you suffered and why it was that FEMA’s original determination about your application was wrong," O'Brian says.
After the interview, the site lays out the supporting documentation that the user will need as well. It then generates the letter for the user and also explains where it should be sent and what the deadlines are.
Those who need further assistance can be directed by the site to local legal seminars and hotlines.
"We are seeing all kinds of reasons that people are being denied their initial applications. They range from simple clerical errors all the way up to complex situations," says O'Brian. "Regardless of the circumstances, people need to know it is a straight-forward process and there are resources out there that can help them. They have a right to appeal and they should appeal."
Even if users have legal issues from the storm not necessarily connected to FEMA, FEMAappeals.org has links to other resources available to help people get the help they need.