New Jersey residents who are disabled, blind, over the age of 65 and meet the other requirements to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will certainly understand that life presents its challenges on a regular basis. When the issues that resulted in the need for SSI-related benefits are compounded by a disaster — be it natural or personal — it is important to understand how receiving assistance from others might affect the SSI and how the person’s income and resources are gauged. After a disaster, there are certain facts that the person should know so it will not hinder their SSI benefits.

For people who are getting SSI and receive help after a major disaster, there are exclusions. If the person gets support and maintenance within 30 days of the disaster and the disaster made it necessary for the person to leave the home and stay in a residential facility or another person’s private household, any assistance is excluded. If assistance if given to the person based on the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act or other federal law due to the disaster, it is excluded. And, if there is interest paid on the federal assistance, it is excluded.

A personal disaster is when there is a flood, a fire or a home is destroyed. The exclusions with a personal disaster are the following: the person can get cash for repair or replacement, or another person or entity can replace or repair it — this will not be considered income; temporary housing until the excluded residence has been replaced or repaired will not be considered income; and interest from cash that was provided to replace or repair a resource that is not cash can be excluded for up to nine months or double that if there is good cause to do so.

The news is filled with stories of hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. When there is a major disaster, it is labeled as such by the president. This is so relief and emergency aid can be provided to the locations that were affected. For disabled individuals who are getting SSI, it is wise to understand the limits to the amount of help they can get after a disaster and how it could be assessed in the context of their SSI payments. A law firm that has a knowledge of all issues related to Supplemental Security Income can help those who have suffered a disaster and are concerned about their SSI.