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Frequently Asked Questions


  1. My mother or father is deceased now. Can I still submit a claim on their behalf?
  2. I don’t have a denial letter or any documents from USDA. Am I eligible for a claim and if so what do I need to provide?
  3. How do I submit a claim?
  4. What kind of documentation will I be required to provide?
  5. If I filed a Civil Rights complaint with USDA and provided documents, do I have to provide them again?
  6. Is there a deadline to submit a claim?
  7. In which Court can I file my complaint to be part of the Program?
  8. Do I need to join in one of the already existing cases or class actions to participate in the Program?
  9. Who will determine if I’m eligible for an award?
  10. How will I know if the Claims Administrator has received my claim?
  11. What happens if my claim form is not complete?
  12. What types of relief are available?
  13. What type of debt relief am I eligible for?
  14. Can you recommend an attorney or other legal service provider to assist me with my claim?
  15. Is there Class Counsel in this process? Do I have an attorney?
  16. Does my attorney get compensated on top of my award payment?
  17. Do I need to hire a lawyer to help me with my claim?
  18. I have been discriminated against by USDA but am not Hispanic or a woman. What do I do?
  19. Is assistance available in Spanish? Hay asistencia disponible en español?
  20. Where can I get more information?
  21. Are there any documents that detail the Claims Resolution Process?
  22. Where should I send my claim package, documents or correspondence?
  23. May I provide documents by fax or email?
  24. What kind of documentation will I be required to provide?
  25. Does it cost anything to submit a claim?
  26. How can I get assistance filing a claim?
  27. Can I change my Tier Election?
  28. Can I submit additional information/documents that I believe will affect the outcome of my claim?
  29. Will I have a chance to correct any errors or omissions on my claim?
  30. I received a letter stating that the Claims Adjudicator had additional questions or needs additional documents from me. What does this mean?
  1. I have submitted my claim to the Claims Administrator. Now what happens?
  2. Who will determine if I'm eligible for an award under the Claims Resolution Process?
  3. Are the claims submitted under penalty of perjury?
  4. How will I know if the Claims Administrator has received my claim?
  5. Should I file even though the deadline has passed?
  6. Will there be some consideration made for late filers? Can I send you my claim form now? I want to send my documents in just in case.
  7. I received a letter in the mail stating my claim has been deemed complete, what do I do now?
  8. I received a letter in the mail stating that my claim is incomplete. What do I do now?
  9. I received a letter in the mail stating my claim has been deemed complete, what do I do now?
  10. How long do I have to correct the errors and/or omissions on my claim?
  11. Can I make other changes to my Claim Form other than correcting those identified in the Incomplete Claim Letter?
  12. There is a blank Claim Form page included in my Incomplete Letter. What does this mean? What do I do with it?
  13. The letter says to correct question [x] but I don’t understand the question or I don’t know how to respond. How should I answer the question? What should I do?
  14. What do I do if I cannot find the required documents/information for the Incomplete Letter?
  15. My client received a defect letter but I (the attorney) did not. Now I have received a defect letter but the response dates are different. Which date is correct?
  16. What is the Claims Administrator’s connection to the USDA?
  17. Who is the Claims Adjudicator?
  18. How will my information be protected?
  19. Is it possible to password protect my file?
  20. Who is authorized to establish a password on an Estate file?
  21. What is the procedure for changing my address?
  22. What is the procedure for changing my name?
  23. I was charged a fee for a claim form. Is this correct?
  24. I’m concerned that someone is running a scam related to this process. I would like to report this information.

WHO IS COVERED?

  1. My mother or father is deceased now. Can I still submit a claim on their behalf?

    The Claim Package and Framework explain the requirements for participating in this process on behalf of another person. If you have questions, you can consult with counsel or other legal service providers in your community.

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  2. I don’t have a denial letter or any documents from USDA. Am I eligible for a claim and if so what do I need to provide?

    You may be eligible to submit a claim depending on your specific circumstances. You may request a Claim Package and review the eligibility criteria contained in the Claim Package. If you have questions, you can consult with counsel or other legal service providers in your community.

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SUBMITTING A CLAIM?

  1. How do I submit a claim?

    If you request a claim through this website on the Request a Claim Package page or if you provide your contact information to a Call Center agent by calling 1-888-508-4429, you will receive a Claim Package from the Claims Administrator via First-Class Mail. You can also download a Claims Package here. To be considered timely, claim forms submitted by mail must be postmarked no later than the deadline of May 1, 2013 to begin the claims process.

    You may also file a claim using either email or fax.

    To File a Claim via Email:
    You may submit your claim via email. You can do this by downloading the Claim Package here. Please print the Claim Form and required attachments. Email the completed forms and other required documents to claims@hwfr.org. The email must be sent no later than 11:59 pm PDT on May 1, 2013.

    To File a Claim via Fax: You may submit your claim via fax. You can do this by downloading the Claim Package here. Please print the Claim Form and required attachments. Fax the completed forms and other required documents to 855-626-8343. The fax must be sent no later than 11:59 pm PDT on May 1, 2013.

    *Although the Claims Administrator for the Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims Resolution Process takes precautions to secure personal information, emailing and faxing documents containing personal information are not as secure as sending your documents through the mail. Please use caution when sending documents electronically to the Claims Administrator.

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  2. What kind of documentation will I be required to provide?

    Details of the documentation needed will be in the Claim Package.

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  3. If I filed a Civil Rights complaint with USDA and provided documents, do I have to provide them again?

    Yes. All information for this process will have to be provided by you directly to the Claims Administrator based on the instructions in the Claim Package, which must be followed very carefully.

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  4. Is there a deadline to submit a claim?

    Yes. To be considered timely, all claim forms filed by mail must be postmarked on or before May 1, 2013. All claim forms submitted by email or fax must be received on or before May 1, 2013 at 11:59 PDT to be considered timely.

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COURT FILING QUESTIONS

  1. In which Court can I file my complaint to be part of the Program?

    Information about this process is provided in the Claim Package. The Claims Administrator cannot offer you legal advice; however, you can consult with counsel or other legal service providers in your community.

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  2. Do I need to join in one of the already existing cases or class actions to participate in the Program?

    Information about this process will be provided in the Claim Package. The Claims Administrator cannot offer you legal advice; however, you can consult with counsel or other legal service providers in your community.

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DECISIONS ON CLAIMS

  1. Who will determine if I’m eligible for an award?

    An experienced, independent claims adjudicator, JAMS Inc., will make the determination of eligibility based upon criteria contained in the Claim Package.

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  2. How will I know if the Claims Administrator has received my claim?

    The Claims Administrator will have a tracking system in use for your claim. You will be able to track the status on this website on the Check Your Claim Status page, or call the Claims Administrator to confirm they have your claim.

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  3. What happens if my claim form is not complete?

    The Claims Administrator will let you know in writing if the Claim Package is complete and if not, what else is needed.

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WHAT SUCCESSFUL CLAIMANTS RECEIVE

  1. What types of relief are available?

    Successful claimants may be eligible for a monetary payment and relief of some FSA loans. Further details will be included in the Claim Package.

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  2. What type of debt relief am I eligible for?

    The Claims Adjudicator will determine whether you are eligible for FSA loan debt relief. USDA will not be providing debt relief for other financial institutions under this Claims Process.

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QUESTIONS RELATING TO ATTORNEYS

  1. Can you recommend an attorney or other legal service provider to assist me with my claim?

    No, the Claims Administrator cannot recommend an attorney or other legal service provider to assist you.

    However, the National Agricultural Law Center (“NALC”) is assisting in the development of a network of attorneys to assist claimants in the completion of the claim form. Additional information is available on the NALC website at www.nationalaglawcenter.org/usda-claims. A current list of attorneys is available on the NALC website at http://nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/usda-claims/legalassistancelist.pdf.

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  2. Is there Class Counsel in this process? Do I have an attorney?

    No, this is not a Class Action lawsuit and there is no Class Counsel. This is a voluntary process initiated by the USDA.

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  3. Does my attorney get compensated on top of my award payment?

    The Claims Administrator cannot offer you legal advice; however, you can consult with counsel or other legal service providers in your community.

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  4. Do I need to hire a lawyer to help me with my claim?

    USDA does not require you to hire a lawyer to participate in this Program. If you have questions, you may consult with counsel or other legal service provider in your community. The National Agricultural Law Center (“NALC”) is assisting in the development of a network of attorneys to assist claimants in the completion of the claim form. Additional information is available on the NALC website at www.nationalaglawcenter.org/usda-claims. A current list of attorneys is available on the NALC website at http://nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/usda-claims/legalassistancelist.pdf.

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WRONG PROGRAM

  1. I have been discriminated against by USDA but am not Hispanic or a woman. What do I do?

    You may contact the USDA Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. Information about filing a civil rights complaint about current discrimination is available on the website of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. Here is their contact information:

    Mail
    U.S. Department of Agriculture
    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Stop 9410
    1400 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC 20250-9410

    Website
    http://www.ascr.usda.gov

    Phone
    (866) 632-9992

    Fax
    (202) 619-6853

    E-mail
    program.intake@usda.gov

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OBTAINING ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

  1. Is assistance available in Spanish? Hay asistencia disponible en español?

    Yes, haz clic aquí para ver este sitio web en español. Spanish and English speaking agents are available by calling the Claims Administrator at 1-888-508-4429, toll free.

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  2. Where can I get more information?

    You may obtain updated information by periodically visiting this website or by calling the Claims Administrator at 1-888-508-4429, toll free.

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  3. Are there any documents that detail the Claims Resolution Process?

    Yes, the Framework is the detailed document that describes the Claims Resolution Process, the rights and obligations of the Claimants, the benefits offered as well as the roles and responsibilities of the Claims Administrator and Claims Adjudicator. The Framework and additional documents regarding the Claims Resolution Process can be found on the Documents page of this website.

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QUESTIONS BY PARTICIPANTS IN THE CLAIMS PROCESS

  1. Where should I send my claim package, documents or correspondence?

    Please include the case name (“Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers”), your name, your Tracking Number and return address on all correspondence. The mailing address is:

    Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims Administrator
    PO Box 4540
    Portland, OR 97208-4540


    Please be sure to keep a copy of any document that you mail to us.

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  2. May I provide documents by fax or email?

    Yes, you can email your claim package and other documentation to claims@hwfr.org. You may also fax your claim package and other documentation to (855) 626-8343. Your completed claim form and documentation must be received no later than 11:59 pm PDT on May 1, 2013.

    *Although the Claims Administrator for the Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims Resolution Process takes precautions to secure personal information, emailing and faxing documents containing personal information are not as secure as sending your documents through the mail. Please use caution when sending documents electronically to the Claims Administrator.

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  3. What kind of documentation will I be required to provide?

    Details are provided in the Claim Package.

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  4. Does it cost anything to submit a claim?

    No, there are no fees or charges for you to receive a Claim Package or to submit your claim. The Claim Package will include documentation regarding eligibility, the steps for you to take to file a claim, and the Claims Administrator's contact information for processing inquiries. The USDA or the Claims Administrator cannot offer you legal advice. If you have questions, you may consult with a lawyer or another legal service provider. However, if you consult your own lawyer, you will be responsible for any fees incurred.

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  5. How can I get assistance filing a claim?

    Lawyers or legal aid organizations may be of assistance to you in filing a claim. Neither USDA nor the Claims Administrator is permitted to complete the Claim Package for you or provide you with legal advice. USDA does not require you to hire a lawyer to participate in this Program. If you have questions, you may consult with counsel or other legal service provider in your community. The National Agricultural Law Center (“NALC”) is assisting in the development of a network of attorneys to assist claimants in the completion of the claim form. Additional information is available on the NALC website at www.nationalaglawcenter.org/usda-claims. A current list of attorneys is available on the NALC website at http://nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/usda-claims/legalassistancelist.pdf.

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  6. Can I change my Tier Election?

    No, once a claim is submitted you may not change your Tier Election.

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  7. Can I submit additional information/documents that I believe will affect the outcome of my claim?

    You may submit additional information prior to the Claims Deadline. However, if your claim has moved onto the Claims Adjudicator, we cannot guarantee that it will be taken into consideration.

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  8. Will I have a chance to correct any errors or omissions on my claim?

    If there are errors or omissions on your timely Claim Form, the Claims Administrator will notify you in writing that your Claim Package is incomplete and you will have 30 days to provide the missing information. Failure to provide the information within that time frame will result in the denial of your claim.

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  9. I received a letter stating that the Claims Adjudicator had additional questions or needs additional documents from me. What does this mean?

    This is not an acceptance or denial of your claim and only means that the Claims Adjudicator would like additional information in order to fully understand and review your claim. Please provide the requested information as soon as possible.

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CLAIMS REVIEW PROCESS

  1. I have submitted my claim to the Claims Administrator. Now what happens?

    Once you submit your claim to the Claims Administrator, the Claims Administrator will determine if it is timely and complete. If it is, the claim will move to the Claims Adjudicator for a determination on the merits of the claim. USDA may submit evidence to the Claims Adjudicator regarding the claim. You will receive notification once your claim has been decided. If your claim is not complete, you will be notified by the Claims Administrator and given the opportunity to provide additional information within a certain timeframe. Additionally, you may check the status of your claim on this website by clicking here.

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  2. Who will determine if I'm eligible for an award under the Claims Resolution Process?

    Your claim will be decided by a Claims Adjudicator (a neutral third party) with independent decision-making authority, based on the information that you submit in the Claim Package and any response by USDA. The Claims Adjudicator’s decisions are final and cannot be appealed.

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  3. Are the claims submitted under penalty of perjury?

    Yes. Every claim must be submitted under penalty of perjury. USDA reserves the right to submit evidence to the Claims Adjudicator regarding any claim. All claims will be subject to random audits and other reviews, and fraudulent claims will be denied and are subject to potential prosecution.

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  4. How will I know if the Claims Administrator has received my claim?

    The Claims Administrator will send a letter to you acknowledging receipt of your claim. Additionally, you may check the status of your claim on this website by clicking here.

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  5. Should I file even though the deadline has passed?

    The claims filing deadline has passed and no late claims will be considered.

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  6. Will there be some consideration made for late filers? Can I send you my claim form now? I want to send my documents in just in case.

    The claims deadline has passed and any claim forms submitted late will not be considered.

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INCOMPLETE LETTERS

  1. I received a letter in the mail stating my claim has been deemed complete, what do I do now?

    Your claim has been forwarded to the Claims Adjudicator for evaluation of eligibility in the claims process. You can check the status of your claim online here. You will need to have your confirmation number, tracking number, and the last four digits of your social security number in order to check your status.

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  2. I received a letter stating that my claim is complete, does this mean I will be receiving a check?

    No. Your claim must first be evaluated by the Claims Adjudicator first.

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  3. I received a letter in the mail stating that my claim is incomplete. What do I do now?

    You will be receiving a letter from us detailing missing information that needs to be provided in order for your claim to be complete. You can also check the status of your claim form here. You will need the confirmation and tracking number provided in the acknowledgment letter received as well as the last four digits of your social security number in order to check your status.

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  4. How long do I have to correct the errors and/or omissions on my claim?

    All corrections must be returned to us and postmarked by July 31, 2013. If your letter contains response date later than July 31, 2013, you must return your response postmarked by the date on your letter. If your claim remains incomplete after that date, you will not be given another opportunity to correct the errors and/or omissions on your claim. Your claim will be denied.

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  5. Can I make other changes to my Claim Form other than correcting those identified in the Incomplete Claim Letter?

    Yes. If you need to use additional sheets, please indicate what question you are responding to and include your tracking number.

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  6. There is a blank Claim Form page included in my Incomplete Letter. What does this mean? What do I do with it?

    You received the blank page because that page was missing from the Claim Form that you submitted. Please complete all the questions on the page and return it to us no later than May 1, 2013.

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  7. The letter says to correct question [x] but I don’t understand the question or I don’t know how to respond. How should I answer the question? What should I do?

    While we are not authorized to advise you on how to respond to a question, we can tell you it is important that you answer the question to the best of your ability. If you need additional assistance, you may consider contacting an attorney or other legal service provider to assist you.

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  8. What do I do if I cannot find the required documents/information for the Incomplete Letter?

    We cannot provide legal advice and can only recommend that you respond to the best of your ability. If you do not respond to the Incomplete Letter, your claim will be denied. If you have further questions, you may consult with a lawyer or another legal service provider.

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  9. My client received a defect letter but I (the attorney) did not. Now I have received a defect letter but the response dates are different. Which date is correct?

    If there is any difference in the dates, the later date on the defect letter sent to the attorney will take precedence.

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QUESTIONS REGARDING THE CLAIMS ADMINISTRATOR AND/OR CLAIMS ADJUDICATOR

  1. What is the Claims Administrator’s connection to the USDA?

    The Claims Administrator is a legal services firm hired to fulfill certain administrative responsibilities in this Claims Resolution Process. The Claims Administrator is a neutral third party.

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  2. Who is the Claims Adjudicator?

    The Claims Adjudicator is also a legal services firm hired to fulfill the adjudication process in this Claims Resolution Process. The Claims Adjudicator is also a neutral third party.

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  3. How will my information be protected?

    As a long-established legal services firm, the Claims Administrator’s systems are designed to afford utmost protection and security for the information provided to us. Further, the Claims Administrator is obligated to fulfill the security requirements mandated by the USDA in this Claims Resolution Process.

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  4. Is it possible to password protect my file?

    If you wish to do so, you can write a letter to the Claims Administrator establishing a password, and asking that no information on the file can be shared unless the caller can provide the established password.

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  5. Who is authorized to establish a password on an Estate file?

    The legal representative of the estate.

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QUESTIONS REGARDING ADDRESS AND NAME CHANGES

  1. What is the procedure for changing my address?

    Please send requests in writing via U.S. Mail. The request should include your full name, old address, current address/telephone number, updated information and your signature. Please also include your tracking number on any correspondence that you send to the Claims Administrator. Please send to:

    Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims Administrator
    PO Box 4540
    Portland, OR 97208-4540

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  2. What is the procedure for changing my name?

    Please send requests in writing via U.S. Mail. The request should include your full name, prior name, current address/telephone number, updated information and your signature. Please also include your tracking number on any correspondence that you send to the Claims Administrator. Please send to:

    Hispanic and Women Farmers and Ranchers Claims Administrator
    PO Box 4540
    Portland, OR 97208-4540

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CONCERNS REGARDING FRAUD, SCAMS, ETC.

  1. I was charged a fee for a claim form. Is this correct?

    No.

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  2. I’m concerned that someone is running a scam related to this process. I would like to report this information.

    You may contact the USDA Office of the Inspector General. Here is their contact information:

    Call:
    800.424.1622
    202.690.1622
    202.690.1202 (TDD)

    Fax:
    202.690.2474

    Write:
    United States Dept. of Agriculture
    Office of Inspector General
    PO Box 23399
    Washington, DC
    20026-3399

    Website:
    www.usda.gov/oig

    Email:
    usda.hotline@oig.usda.gov

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