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Info seniors need about disaster aid

Disaster assistance grants are not considered taxable income and will not affect Social Security or Medicare. NASHVILLE – Seniors need not worry about losing Social Security and Medicare benefits if they receive federal disaster assistance as a result of the recent severe storms, tornadoes, straight-line winds and flooding that struck Tennessee.

Disaster assistance grants are not considered taxable income and will not affect Social Security or Medicare.

The first step for seniors or anyone else seeking federal aid is to register with FEMA:

• By phone, call 800-621-FEMA (3362) from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. local time. Those who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability may use TTY 800-462-7585.
    
• By computer, go online to www.DisasterAssistance.gov.
    
• By smartphone or tablet, use m.fema.gov.
    
Seniors and others who apply for FEMA help may receive a loan application from the U.S. Small Business Administration. They should be sure to fill it out and return it.  Although no one is obligated to take a loan, those who fail to complete the SBA application may disqualify themselves for other types of assistance.

The SBA offers disaster loans up to $200,000 to repair or replace homes and up to $40,000 to homeowners and renters for personal property losses. Interest rates are as low as 2.69 percent.

In addition to applying for federal aid, those who are insured should file claims with their insurance companies.  FEMA cannot provide funding for insured losses.

Federal aid has been made available to eligible individuals in Bledsoe, Bradley, Cocke, Dyer, Greene, Hamilton, Johnson, Lake McMinn, Monroe, Obion, Rhea, Shelby, Stewart and Washington counties.

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