LACEY, Wash. -- Washington residents should not be concerned that receiving state and federal disaster-related financial assistance will cause them to sacrifice Social Security benefits or pay higher income taxes.
"A state or federal grant will not add to taxable income, as long as the grant is declared as assistance to recover from a disaster," said State Coordinating Officer Kurt Hardin of the Washington Emergency Management Division (EMD). "This means that receiving disaster aid will not affect Social Security benefits or income taxes."
Those who suffered damages and losses as a result of the floods of December should register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance. Residents of the following counties who suffered damages are eligible to register: Clallam, Grays Harbor, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, Snohomish, Thurston and Wahkiakum. The registration deadline is Feb. 7.
The FEMA-State programs are designed to give people a hand up, not to make them whole again. When disaster aid programs are not enough to help people with their basic needs, they may be referred to voluntary and faith-based organizations for further assistance.
"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," said Federal Coordinating Officer Willie Nunn, of FEMA. "They also will not affect income taxes."
To apply for federal and state assistance, call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. Lines are open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. People can also register online at www.fema.gov.
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.