SALEM, Ore. -- Some Oregon disaster aid recipients have expressed concern that their state and federal grants might cause them to lose Social Security benefits, pay additional taxes, or give up income-based benefit programs. Officials with Oregon Emergency Management (OEM) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) say those concerns are unfounded.
In most cases, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security Administration does not count federal or state disaster aid as income.
Here are answers to the most common questions:
Question: If I earn more than a certain amount each year, I must repay $1 of my Social Security payment for every $2 earned. Will FEMA grants add to my income and require me to repay Social Security?
Answer: No. FEMA grants for housing and Other Needs Assistance (ONA) are not counted 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, food stamps or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) administered by the Children, Adults and Families (CAF) group of the Department of Human Services?
Answer: No. Grants for housing and ONA are not counted as income in determining eligibility for any income-tested benefit programs funded by the U.S. government or State of Oregon.
Question: Do any FEMA or state grants count as income?
Answer: Yes. The IRS considers mitigation grants to make homes and businesses safe from future disasters as taxable improvements to private property. However, these mitigation grants are awarded separately from grants to individuals registering for disaster assistance.
For information or to find copies of Social Security publications, visit the website at www.socialsecurity.gov/pubs.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.