SSA logo: link to Social Security Online home2138. Assistance Related to Disasters

2138.1 What is considered a major disaster?

A “major disaster” is one declared by the President. It is declared for purposes of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (formerly the Disaster Relief Act of 1974).

2138.2 What exclusions apply when there is a major disaster?

When a major disaster occurs, the following exclusions apply:

  1. Support and maintenance you begin receiving within 30 days of the disaster, if the disaster caused you to leave a household that you maintained as your own home. The support and maintenance may be provided in a residential facility or in a private household maintained by another person;

  2. Any assistance provided under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act or under any other Federal statute because of the catastrophe (e.g., cash to repair or replace the home or other property); and

  3. Any interest earned on assistance payments described under (B) above.

2138.3 What is considered a personal disaster?

A “personal disaster” occurs when your resource is lost, damaged, or stolen (e.g., destruction of a home by fire or flood).

2138.4 What exclusions apply when there is a personal disaster?

When a resource is lost, damaged, or stolen, the following rules apply:

  1. You may receive cash to repair or replace the resource, or the resource may be repaired or replaced for you. Neither the cash nor the repair/replacement is income;

  2. Temporary housing provided until your excluded home is repaired or replaced is not income; and

  3. Up to nine months (which can be extended to 18 months for good cause) of interest earned on cash received to repair or replace a non-cash resource is not income.