[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 29 (Monday, February 13, 2012)]
[Pages 7597-7598]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-3208]



Federal Emergency Management Agency

[Docket ID FEMA-2012-0006]

Waiver of Debt

AGENCY: Federal Emergency Management Agency, DHS.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: FEMA is providing notice of its implementation of the Disaster 
Assistance Recoupment Fairness Act of 2011 (Pub. L. 112-74) (DARFA). 
DARFA provides the Administrator of FEMA with the authority to waive 
certain debts

[[Page 7598]]

arising from improper payments provided to disaster survivors for 
disasters declared between August 28, 2005, and December 31, 2010.

DATES: FEMA's waiver procedures are effective February 13, 2012.

ADDRESSES: ``FEMA Directive: Waiving Debts Pursuant to the Disaster 
Assistance Recoupment Fairness Act of 2011'' can be viewed at 
www.regulations.gov under Docket ID FEMA-2012-0006. Go to 
www.regulations.gov, click on ``Advanced Search,'' enter ``FEMA-2012-
0006'' in the ``By Docket ID'' box, and click ``Search.'' A hard copy 
may be inspected at FEMA, Office of Chief Counsel, Room 835, 500 C 
Street SW., Washington, DC 20472.

Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, 501 C Street SW., 
Washington, DC, telephone (202) 646-3642 (this is not a toll-free 
number). If you have any questions regarding a Notice of Debt or 
recoupment action, please contact the Recoupment Hotline at 1-800-816-
1122. 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 800-816-1122.

    Pursuant to the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 
104-134) and the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010 
(Pub. L. 111-204), as implemented by 31 CFR Part 901, 31 CFR 902.2, and 
6 CFR Part 11, FEMA is required to recover funds improperly paid 
(overpayments). On March 15, 2011, FEMA published a notice in the 
Federal Register (76 FR 14039) that announced FEMA's recoupment process 
for collecting overpayments (debts) made in delivering temporary 
housing and other disaster-related individual assistance. This process 
provides individuals an opportunity to appeal a FEMA debt determination 
and, in some cases, to request an oral hearing.
    Some members of Congress expressed concern about the fairness of 
FEMA collecting overpayments from disaster survivors when the 
overpayment was the result of FEMA error and where a significant amount 
of time had elapsed before FEMA provided actual notice of the debt. As 
a result of these concerns, Congress passed, and the President signed, 
the Disaster Assistance Recoupment Fairness Act of 2011 (Pub. L. 112-
74) (DARFA). Pursuant to DARFA, FEMA may determine to waive a debt 
arising from improper payments provided to disaster survivors for 
disasters declared between August 28, 2005 and December 31, 2010 if:
    (1) The debt does not involve fraud, the presentation of a false 
claim, or misrepresentation by the debtor or any party having an 
interest in the claim; and
    (2) The assistance was distributed based on FEMA error; and
    (3) There was no fault on behalf of the debtor; and
    (4) The collection of the debt would be ``against equity and good 
    (5) In addition, if all four conditions above are met but the 
debtor's Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is greater than $90,000, FEMA may 
approve no more than a partial waiver.
    FEMA may determine it would be against equity and good conscience 
to collect a debt where collection would cause serious financial 
hardship; where the debtor has spent the overpayment for the reason it 
was provided or other disaster related needs and has no present ability 
to reclaim the funds; more than 36 months have elapsed between the time 
FEMA awarded the assistance and the date final notification was 
provided to the debtor of the debt; and/or other personal circumstances 
exist where collection would be unconscionable.
    If FEMA determines to waive a debt pursuant to the authority 
provided in DARFA, the debt will cease to exist, FEMA will cease 
further debt collection activity with respect to the debt waived, and 
reimburse any payments or fees previously paid on the debt. If FEMA 
determines that a debt is not waived, the debtor will be notified of 
payment options.
    DARFA is a time-limited authority that only applies to very 
particular debts arising from FEMA individual assistance overpayments 
for specific disaster events. It is thus extraordinary authority and 
the waiver process that results from it does not apply to debts arising 
from delivery of any other FEMA or other Federal assistance program.

    Authority: Pub. L. 112-74; 31 U.S.C. 3701 et seq.

    Dated: February 7, 2012.
W. Craig Fugate,
Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency.
[FR Doc. 2012-3208 Filed 2-10-12; 8:45 am]