Some folks who were affected by the severe storms, tornadoes and flooding in March are concerned that if they receive FEMA or state grants, they might lose Social Security benefits, pay additional taxes or give up income-based benefit programs if they accept federal or state disaster aid.
But state and federal officials say that in almost all cases, that’s not the case.
According to information obtained from FEMA, this includes homeowners, renters and businesses in Erath, Gregg, Harrison, Henderson, Hood, Jasper, Limestone, Marion, Newton, Orange, Parker, Shelby and Tyler counties who register for disaster assistance.
Typically the Social Security Administration and IRS do not count federal or state disaster aid as income, according to recovery officials from the state of Texas and FEMA. A few questions that often come up following a disaster declaration are:
Question: I’m between 62 and 65 years of age, and have chosen to receive Social Security benefits. If my income is more than a certain amount each year, I must reimburse a portion of my Social Security payment. Will FEMA grants add to my income and require me to repay Social Security?
Answer: No. FEMA grants for housing and other disaster assistance are not counted as income.
Question: I’m over 65, but if I earn more than a certain amount, I must pay tax on my Social Security income. Will FEMA grants boost my income and require me to pay tax on my Social Security income?
Answer: No. The IRS does not count FEMA grants for housing and other disaster assistance as income.
Question: Will receiving a grant cause my income to increase to the point that I am no longer eligible for Medicaid, welfare assistance or food stamps?
Answer: No. Grants for housing and other disaster assistance are not counted as income in determining eligibility for income-tested benefit programs that the U.S. government funds.
Apply for assistance online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585.