FEMA Release Date: November 7, 2007
Release Number: 1731-021
PASADENA, Calif. -- Californians who receive Social Security should not be concerned that applying for, or receiving, state and federal disaster-related financial assistance may cause them to sacrifice their benefits.
"A state or federal grant will not add to taxable income, as long as the grant is given as assistance to recover from a disaster," said State Coordinating Officer Henry Renteria of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES). "This means that receiving disaster aid will not affect Social Security benefits."
Additionally, disaster grants will not affect income levels to the point where a senior would no longer be eligible for Medicaid, welfare assistance, or food stamps. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants are not repaid by the recipient.
Those who suffered damages and losses as a result of the recent California wildfires should register with FEMA to find out about services that may be available to them.
To apply for federal and state assistance, call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Lines are open 24-hours, daily until further notice. Disaster victims may also register online at www.fema.gov.
After applying with FEMA, disaster victims may receive, in the mail, a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Application. To be considered for other forms of disaster assistance, it is important to complete and submit the SBA application.
Those who receive a disaster loan application, and have questions, can contact SBA at 1-800-659-2955 or TTY 1-800-877-8339 or visit: www.sba.gov/services/disasterassistance. They also can go to any disaster assistance center (see attached list of all disaster assistance centers) to get help filling out the application.