ATLANTA, Ga. -- Some Georgia 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 the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) say those concerns are unfounded.
In most cases, 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 result in my income being increased so that I am no longer eligible for Medicaid, welfare assistance, food stamps or Aid to Families with Dependent Children?
Answer: No. Grants for housing and ONA are not counted as income in determining eligibility for any income-based benefit programs funded by the U.S. government.
Registering takes about 20 minutes and can be done by phone, on the internet and mobile devices. By phone, register between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily. Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). Those with hearing or speech disabilities can call 1-800-462-7585. Register anytime using the internet by logging on to www.disasterassistance.gov or with a mobile device by going to m.fema.gov.
Anyone affected by the April storms is urged to register for disaster assistance through FEMA. There are grants to cover emergency home repairs, rental assistance and funds to address essential losses not covered by insurance. Low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration may be available for homeowners and renters as well as business owners.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.