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Seniors getting disaster assistance won't lose Social Security benefits

Published October 07. 2011 05:02PM

Senior citizens who receive disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will not lose their Social Security benefits nor have their benefits cut.

"A FEMA grant does not add to a senior's taxable income, as long as the grant is given as assistance to recover from a disaster," said Commonwealth Coordinating Officer John Forr of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). "Seniors will not have to sacrifice any part of their Social Security benefits."

Disaster grants will not affect income levels, causing a senior citizen to become ineligible for Medicaid, welfare assistance, food stamps or Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Seniors should also know that state/federal grants do not have to be repaid.

"We want seniors to register with FEMA so we can get them the help they need as soon as possible," said Federal Coordinating Officer Thomas J. McCool.

After registration, seniors can visit any Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) to get answers to questions they may have. Most DRCs are open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week. The following centers will be closed on Sundays starting this Sunday; Dauphin, Lancaster, Chester, Montgomery, Bucks, Cumberland, Delaware and Northumberland. To find out if one of the 13 remaining DRCs is near you, visit

The number to register for assistance is 1-800-621-3362 or TTY 1-800-462-7585 directly. If seniors use 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), they can call 1-800-621-3362. Operators are multilingual and calls are answered seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It's also possible to register online at

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