U.S. Senator Mark Pryor today reminded Arkansans that the deadline to participate in FEMA's debt forgiveness program is quickly approaching. The program is a result of a law, championed by Pryor, meant to help individuals who mistakenly received disaster assistance from FEMA years ago and are now being told to repay the money.
In February, FEMA mailed 90,000 letters to individuals nationwide, including 700 in Arkansas, to inform them about a new program where they can have their debt waived by FEMA in cases where disaster assistance was distributed to them in error. These individuals were asked to respond to FEMA within 60 days to request a waiver and certify that they meet the criteria, including need, household income, and appropriate use of funds. For the majority of disaster survivors, the deadline to submit their waiver is between April 16 and 23. As an additional measure, FEMA will also be mailing reminder letters to those who have yet to request a waiver, urging them to do so.
"I was proud to help right this wrong for disaster victims, and I'm pleased FEMA is working swiftly to implement the law," Pryor said. "With the deadline quickly approaching, I hope any Arkansans who may be eligible will contact FEMA quickly for a waiver."
Any disaster survivor with questions about their eligibility requirements or the process to request a waiver is encouraged to contact FEMA's Recoupment Helpline at 1-800-816-1122 between 9:00 AM and 8:00 PM EST, Monday through Friday. If you have a speech disability or hearing loss and use a TTY, call 1-800-462-7585 directly; if you use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-816-1122.
Pryor's bill, the Disaster Assistance Recoupment Fairness Act of 2011, was passed as part of the Fiscal Year 2012 Omnibus Appropriations Bill. His bill gives the Administrator of FEMA the authority to waive a debt arising from improper payments for disasters declared between August 28, 2005, and December 31, 2010, if certain conditions are met.