ALBANY, N.Y. – New Yorkers who receive disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after Hurricane Irene or Tropical Storm Lee will not pay additional taxes, lose their Social Security benefits or other government benefit programs.
Disaster assistance for temporary housing, home repair, to repair or replace personal property, or for other serious needs does not count as income and will not be taxed.
Disaster relief payments from the government or donations from charitable organizations will also not jeopardize Social Security payments or Medicare benefits.
The determination on the amount of disaster assistance an eligible applicant receives is based on the amount of loss and damages incurred by the storm and the amount of their insurance settlement. Eligibility for assistance is not dependent on income.
Those who have experienced damage from the storms may be eligible for FEMA’s Individual and Households Program (IHP). This may cover expenses for temporary housing, home repairs, replacement of damaged personal property and other disaster-related needs, such as medical, dental or transportation costs, not covered by insurance or other programs.
The only way to know if you are eligible for disaster assistance is to register with FEMA. By phone, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362. Lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, seven days a week until further notice. People with hearing disabilities can use the TTY number, 800-462-7585. Applicants can also register online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or with any web-enabled mobile device or smartphone at m.fema.gov. Follow the link to “apply online for federal assistance.”
Information needed when registering with FEMA includes the address of the damaged property, names of those living in the household, a general description of the damage, the Social Security number of any family member living in the home, the extent of insurance coverage and other information needed to expedite the process.
Individuals may visit a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) after they register with FEMA. The centers are staffed with disaster recovery specialists who can provide information and answer questions about storm-related assistance, according to FEMA and state officials. To locate the nearest DRC, call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 or go online at asd.fema.gov/inter/locator/drcLocator.jsp.
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.