How to file a PPP forgiveness appeal with the SBA / OHA

In this 6-minute read:

  • Important information about how to file a PPP loan forgiveness appeal with the SBA / OHA
  • Who does the SBA conduct PPP loan reviews for?
  • Who can apply for a PPP loan forgiveness appeal?
  • How soon do you need to submit your appeal?
  • How to file a PPP loan forgiveness appeal
  • What happens next?
  • Additional PPP loan resources

Not everyone’s PPP loan will be forgiven. If you didn’t spend your funds on authorized expenses or didn’t maintain your workforce and payroll in accordance with the PPP loan requirements (if your loan required it; see below), then you might only get partial loan forgiveness, or none at all. (If your loan is determined to be fraudulent, you will obviously need to pay it back and you may face criminal charges as well.)

After the SBA makes a decision on your loan forgiveness, you may be able to apply for an appeal. Read on to learn who can apply for an appeal, what this means, and how to get this process started. 

Gig workers, freelancers, sole proprietors, independent contractors, self-employed individuals and more are eligible for PPP loans. Check your eligibility with Womply in as little as 5 minutes, and you could receive up to $50,000 in forgivable PPP loans!

Important information about how to file a PPP loan forgiveness appeal

The Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) handles all PPP loan appeals. But first, it’s important to know that there are certain circumstances you must meet in order to submit a loan forgiveness appeal with the OHA. 

The forgiveness process starts by you submitting your application through your lender, and then they make an initial decision about your loan forgiveness. If they’ve determined that you won’t qualify for loan forgiveness, then they must issue that decision with the SBA and you along with an explanation within 5 business days. Alternatively, they may submit your application to the SBA and then the SBA has up to 90 days to issue a final decision. If your loan isn’t 100% forgiven at that point, then you may be able to submit an appeal. 

That being said, you can only submit an appeal if the SBA has issued a loan review decision. So if you wish to appeal, then the SBA must have conducted a review of your PPP loan or you must request an SBA loan review if your lender has decided that you don’t qualify for any forgiveness. In the latter circumstance, however, it is not guaranteed that you will get a review.  

Who does the SBA conduct PPP loan reviews for?

The SBA will conduct loan reviews of businesses that took out PPP loans of $2 million or more. And depending on the circumstances, they may issue loan reviews of loans less than $2 million. Generally there are some kind of extenuating circumstances or red flags with your expenditures that cause the SBA to conduct a review. So having a review of your loan isn’t necessarily a good thing. But it is a must if you wish to appeal the final forgiveness decision. 

Who can apply for a PPP loan forgiveness appeal?

Once the SBA has conducted a review of your PPP loan and forgiveness application, you can only submit an appeal if your review results in the following determinations by the SBA:

  • You weren’t eligible for a PPP loan from the start
  • You weren’t eligible for the amount of the PPP loan you received
  • You didn’t use the PPP for authorized expenses
  • You aren’t eligible for the PPP loan amount your lender decided
  • Your lender issued a full denial decision to the SBA (meaning you aren’t eligible for any PPP loan forgiveness)

If the SBA determines that your PPP loan isn’t eligible for forgiveness for any of these reasons after reviewing your loan, then you may appeal their decision. 

Note: Submitting an appeal doesn’t not guarantee that you will get loan forgiveness. It just gives you an additional opportunity for the SBA to check over everything again (should they choose to accept your appeal) and re-determine your eligibility for loan forgiveness.  

How soon do you need to submit your SBA PPP loan forgiveness appeal?

If you wish to file an appeal, you must submit it to the OHA within 30 days of receiving your final SBA decision or notification from your lender (whichever comes first). 

How to file a PPP loan forgiveness appeal with the SBA

The PPP loan forgiveness appeal process is not one to be taken lightly. You may even consider having your attorney help you put everything together. You’ll need plenty of documentation to verify your claims and your appeal should also include a number of statements as indicated below. 

Your appeal should include the following:

  1. The basis for OHA’s jurisdiction and proof that you are filing your appeal on time
  2. A copy or description of the SBA loan review decision that you are appealing
  3. An explanation of why you think the SBA’s decision is wrong
  4. What you hope to achieve—how much loan forgiveness you think you should be getting
  5. Signed copies of your payroll tax filings reporting to the IRS, unemployment insurance tax filings, and state quarterly employee wage reporting copies OR an explanation for why you don’t have these
  6. Signed copies of federal tax returns and the necessary schedules filed with the IRS that show your self-employment or partner income OR an explanation for why you don’t have these
  7. Your and/or your attorney’s name, address, phone number, email address, and signature

Once you have all of that ready and any necessary documentation included, you can send it to the SBA with the following contact information:

Associate General Counsel for Litigation, U.S. Small Business Administration
409 Third Street SW
Washington, DC 20416

Email address: 

What happens after you submit your PPP forgiveness appeal?

After the appeal documentation is received, the OHA will assign it to an Administrative Law Judge who will then determine if the appeal should be dismissed or looked into further. Should the appeal move forward in the process, the judge will establish a deadline for the appeal process. 

Generally, this will involve having the SBA produce an administrative record of the appeal within 20 days of the judge’s issuance of an order and then the record will close 45 days after the OHA receives the appeal. The administrative record should consist of the documents that the SBA used to make its final decision on the loan forgiveness. After that record is produced, the person/business who submitted the appeal will have the chance to object to the record if they feel there is anything missing that should be included in this decision. 

The judge should make their decision within 45 days of the close of the record, and then the decision will become final after another 30 days (unless a request for a review is filed). 

From that decision it may be determined that your loan can be fully forgiven, in which case you won’t have to pay it back. But the more likely scenario is that your loan may be partially forgiven or not forgiven at all, resulting in you having to pay the loan back. 

This appeals process does not defer deadlines for loan repayment and the loan repayment terms will remain the same. 

Additional PPP loan resources

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