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Officials To Meet Hawai?i Island Residents Denied Volcano Relief

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HONOLULU — Federal officials are expected to meet with K?lauea disaster aid recipients who have been told to return the relief funds, a report said.

Federal Emergency Management and Hawai?i Emergency Management Agency officials will discuss cases on the Big Island Aug. 5-9, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Tuesday.

FEMA sent letters in June to dozens of victims of the 2018 K?lauea eruption saying they were ineligible for federal disaster relief payments. The letters asked recipients to return payments that had already been distributed.

The agencies will interview individual applicants at the Kea?au Armory who have appealed the requests for full or partial recoupment, Hawai?i emergency officials announced Tuesday.

Interviews are required for individuals who wish to appeal the government's recoupment requests and must be held within the time frame outlined in the letters, FEMA said.

FEMA is required to review assistance payments following a disaster. A K?lauea eruption review identified a small number of recipients who were not eligible, officials said.

Federal law requires FEMA to seek the return of misdirected aid, officials said.

Potential reasons for ineligibility can include duplication of benefits, assistance mistakenly provided, misuse of funds, and fraud, officials said.

Assistance specialists at the August meetings are expected to explain eligibility decisions and collect documentation that may assist in the clearing debts of eruption survivors. The officials will also resolve issues such as proof of occupancy.

State representatives may attend the interviews with permission from the applicants.

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