OXFORD, Miss. – As the income tax season nears, December storm survivors don’t have to worry that the disaster assistance they received from the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency or from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will boost their tax bill or reduce their Social Security checks or any other federal benefits.
Disaster assistance for temporary housing, essential home repairs, replacement of personal property or for other serious needs does not count as income. Disaster relief payments from the government or donations from charitable organizations will not affect Social Security payments or Medicare benefits. And, disaster recovery grants will not affect any recipient’s eligibility for Medicaid, welfare assistance, food stamps or Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Grants for disaster recovery assistance are not counted as income in determining eligibility for any income-tested benefit programs that the U.S. government funds.
As of Jan. 25, FEMA has awarded nearly $2 million in disaster assistance to Mississippians affected by the December disaster. Storm survivors have until March 4, 2016, to register with FEMA for disaster assistance by using any of the following methods:
- By phone, call 800-621-FEMA (3362) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Assistance is available in most languages. People who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired may call (TTY) 800-462-7585.
- Online at DisasterAssistance.gov by computer, tablet, iPhone, Android or other mobile device.
- By 711 or video relay services, call 800-621-3362.
Eligibility for FEMA assistance is not dependent on income. The amount of disaster assistance an eligible applicant receives is based on the amount of loss and damage incurred as a direct result of the recent storms and flooding and the amount of their insurance settlement, if any.
After registering with FEMA, some survivors receive a disaster loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration. By submitting the SBA disaster loan application, survivors keep the full range of disaster assistance available as an option. SBA may refer applicants who do not qualify for a home loan to FEMA for grants to replace essential household items and replace or repair a damaged vehicle. But if survivors do not submit their disaster loan applications, further assistance may stop. Survivors are not required to accept a loan offer.
All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).
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.
FEMA’s temporary housing assistance and grants for public transportation expenses, medical and dental expenses, and funeral and burial expenses do not require individuals to apply for an SBA loan. However, applicants who receive SBA loan applications must submit them to SBA loan officers to be eligible for assistance that covers personal property, vehicle repair or replacement, and moving and storage expenses.