The Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed Tuesday to give Hurricane Sandy homeowners an extra 30 days to ask the government to review their damage claims.

FEMA agreed to the last-minute extension just hours before the original deadline. The agency initially agreed to review all claims submitted by homeowners in response to allegations that insurers or their engineering firms blamed Hurricane Sandy damage on other factors, thus reducing payments.

To date, more than 20,000 homeowners have asked FEMA to review their claims. So far, 459 claims worth $7.3 million have been approved.

"New Jersey families are getting real money — in some cases tens of thousands of dollars — that they never would have seen had FEMA not acted," said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who initially pushed the agency to reopen the claims. He said the 30-day extension will "give Sandy survivors the time they need to understand the rules, opt-in and have their claims reviewed."

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