BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana senior citizens who sustained losses from Hurricane Isaac needn’t worry that applying for federal disaster assistance will cause them to sacrifice their Social Security benefits, pay more taxes or give up income-based benefit programs.
“We hope seniors are not afraid to apply for assistance, and we want to help them,” said Mike Hall, federal coordinating officer with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “Receiving disaster funds will not cause anyone to miss out on other programs.”
A grant from FEMA does not add to a senior’s taxable income as long as the grant is to help recover from a disaster like Hurricane Isaac.
Applying for assistance also does not affect a person’s eligibility for Medicaid, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, supplemental nutrition assistance or other federal programs. Recipients do not have to repay FEMA grants.
“Seniors do have to register with FEMA to be considered for eligibility,” Hall said. “Even if they have registered with their parish or a local organization, they still need to register with FEMA.”
Seniors and other survivors who live in one of the 21 parishes designated for Individual Assistance can register online with FEMA at www.disasterassistance.gov or via smartphone at m.fema.gov. Applicants also may call 1-800-621-3362 or (TTY) 1-800-462-7585. For 711 Relay or Video Relay Services, call 1-800-621-3362. The toll-free telephone numbers are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
The 21 parishes are Ascension, Assumption, East Baton Rouge, East Feliciana, Iberville, Jefferson, Lafourche, Livingston, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. Helena, St. James, St. John, St. Mary, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Terrebonne, Washington and West Feliciana parishes.
Survivors also may visit a Disaster Recovery Center to speak directly with a FEMA specialist who can answer questions. For a list of center locations, click on www.fema.gov/disaster/4080.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) also has low-interest disaster loans available to qualified survivors. Eligible seniors who receive the SBA disaster loan application should fill it out even if they are not interested in getting a loan or think that they may not qualify. Completing the application ensures that they may be considered for other forms of disaster assistance.
For more information on Louisiana disaster recovery, click www.fema.gov/disaster/4080 or www.gohsep.la.gov. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/femaregion6 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/FEMA. Also visit our blog at www.fema.gov/blog.