AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas wildfire survivors who receive federal disaster assistance will not pay additional taxes, lose their Social Security or disability benefits, or face a reduction in benefits from any other income-based program, says the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“A federal grant has no effect on a survivor’s benefits or sources of income," said Federal Coordinating Officer Kevin L. Hannes of FEMA. "Texans don’t have to sacrifice their benefits in order to receive FEMA disaster assistance."
Since the Sept. 9 major disaster declaration, the state and FEMA have awarded millions of dollars in housing assistance and other needs assistance for personal property, transportation and medical care to eligible wildfire survivors. The grants are not considered additional income by the Internal Revenue Service and, therefore, will not be taxed.
Furthermore, FEMA disaster assistance will not jeopardize Social Security or Medicare benefits, and it will not affect an applicant’s eligibility for Medicaid or SNAP food benefits.
Texans affected by wildfires that occurred on or after Aug. 30 may be eligible for grants through FEMA's Individual Assistance program for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, the replacement of damaged personal property and other disaster-related needs, such as medical, dental or transportation costs, not covered by insurance or other grants. Eligibility for assistance is not dependent on income.
Texans in 23 designated counties can register for disaster assistance online at www.disasterassistance.gov, via web-enabled phone at m.fema.gov, or by telephone via FEMA’s toll-free numbers: 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585. Those who use 711-Relay or Video Relay Services can call 1-800-621-3362. Operators are available from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
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.