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CORONAVIRUS RELIEF AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Senator Murphy is committed to making sure Connecticut residents have the resources and information they need in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. If you have questions or assitance, please contact our office

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CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES

For information on how Connecticut is handling the outbreak and guidance from Governor Lamont, please visit ct.gov/coronavirus

For the most up-to-date information on the virus, how it spreads, and ways to prepare, visit the CDC's website at cdc.gov/coronavirus

SUMMARY OF CORONAVIRUS RELIEF AND FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Congress has passed multiple relief packages to help address the impact of coronavirus and its economic fallout. To help answer some of the many questions people have about what is in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and how they can get assistance, my office put together this FAQ. 

This page will continue to be updated as additional resources and applications become available.

DIRECT PAYMENTS

The IRS will provide additional information on stimulus checks here. Their FAQs have recently been updated and can be found here.

Who qualifies to receive a check?

  • Individuals with adjusted gross income under $75,000 ($112,500 for head of household and $150,000 for joint filers) who are not dependents of another taxpayer are eligible for the full stimulus payment.
  • These payments are available to anyone with a Social Security Number (but not an ITIN number), including those who have no income, as well as those whose income comes entirely from non-taxable, means-tested benefit programs, such as Social Security or Social Security Disability Insurance.

How much will I receive? 

  • Each eligible adult in a household will receive $1,200, with an additional $500 for each dependent child in the household under 17.
  • These payments begin phasing out at a 5% rate for single filers above $75,000, head of household filers above $122,500, and joint filers above $150,000. For example, an individual earning $87,000 per year would receive a payment of $600, and an individual earning $99,000 per year and above would not receive a payment.

How do I claim my check?

  • The stimulus payments will be paid out automatically as advance refunds (in the form of checks or direct deposit) if you filed your 2019 tax returns (The IRS may use your 2018 return, if a 2019 return has not yet been filed, or your form SSA-1099).
  • Non-filers should click here to claim their stimulus payment.

How long will it take for the check to be delivered?

  • The IRS has already sent out payments to over 88 million Americans, including over 960,000 in Connecticut. Stimulus payments will continue to be sent out over the next few months.

Why am I getting “Payment Status Not Available?”

The Get My Payment tool will return "Payment Status Not Available" for several reasons, including:

  • You are required to file a tax return, but the IRS hasn’t finished processing your 2019 return or the “Get my payment” tool doesn’t have your data yet;
  • You’re a non-filer and the IRS has not processed your “Enter Payment Info Here” entry yet
  • You receive SSI or VA benefits, as that information has not been loaded into the IRS system
  • You are not eligible for payment.

The IRS updates the “Get my payment” tool once per day and has recently updated the system, so you should check to see if your status has changed.

Will I be taxed on this check? 

  • The stimulus payment is treated like other refundable tax credits and not considered income, so it will not be taxed.

Will I be eligible if I have a lien against me, but I am in non-collect status?

  • Yes, stimulus payments will not be subject to garnishment unless back child support is owed and has been reported to the federal government.

Do these stimulus payments need to be repaid?

  • No, they do not need to be repaid. If you experienced income loss in 2020 or if you have an increase in family size, you may be able to claim an additional credit of the difference when you file your 2020 federal income tax return in 2021.

Are seniors eligible?

  • Seniors who have a SSN and who are not dependents of another taxpayer qualify for the stimulus check, even if their only income is from Social Security.
  • Seniors will receive $1,200 if their adjusted gross income is under $75,000. These payments are considered refundable tax credits and therefore are not taxable.

What if I do not normally file taxes because I receive a federal benefit, but I have dependents? 

  • If you are an SSA/RRB beneficiary who is also claiming a dependent for purposes of the stimulus check, you must register by noon on Wednesday, April 22 to receive the $500 with their $1,200 payment. For those who miss the April 22 deadline, your payment at this time will be $1,200 and the additional $500 per eligible child amount would be paid when you file in  tax year 2020. You will not be eligible to use the Non-Filer tool to add eligible children once your $1,200 payment has been issued.
  • SSI recipients will receive their automatic payments in early May, and the VA payment schedule for beneficiaries who receive Compensation and Pension (C&P) benefit payments is still being determined. If you have children and aren't required to file a tax return, you must use the Non-Filer tool by May 5, 2020 to receive the $500 payment with your $1,200 payment. Once your $1,200 payment has been issued, you will not be eligible to use the Non-Filer tool to add eligible children. Your payment will be $1,200 and the additional $500 per eligible child amount would be paid when they file in tax year 2020.

What if I think the amount of my check is incorrect?

  • If you think your check should be higher than it is, especially if you think you may be entitled to an additional $500 per qualifying dependent child, you will be able to claim the additional amount when you file your 2020 tax return.

What if I received a check for a deceased relative?

  • A payment made to someone who died before receipt of their check should be returned to the IRS. The IRS has instructions on how to return payments here. You should return the entire check unless taxes were filed jointly and one spouse had not died before receipt of the check, in which case, you should return the part of the check made on account of the deceased. This amount will be $1,200 unless adjusted gross income exceeded $150,000.
UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AND PAID SICK LEAVE

Am I eligible for unemployment?

  • In general, if you have been laid off from your full- or part-time job for reasons related to COVID-19, you are eligible for UI. Similarly, in general, if you cannot work for reasons related to COVID-19 and you are self-employed, an independent contractor, or working in the “gig economy,” you are also eligible, though you will need to provide documentation to prove your eligibility. The Department of Labor will specify what documentation you need to provide to prove eligibility.

What is the benefit?

  • The exact amount you can receive through unemployment depends on your previous earnings and what you receive from the state, but between now and July 31, an additional $600 will be added to every unemployment compensation check, so no one will receive less than $600 per week. You can apply for unemployment insurance here.
  • If you exhaust the weeks of unemployment compensation available to you through CT DOL, you will be eligible for an additional 13 weeks of benefits. These benefits will be federally-funded, but you will still receive them through Connecticut.
  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act provided $500 million for states to increase capacity to deal with unemployment insurance claims, which have been surging in Connecticut since early March.
  • On April 30th, the Connecticut Department of Labor began processing claim applications for self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and ‘gig’ workers who are eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.  If you have already applied for unemployment insurance, you will not need to apply again.  Through the PUA, you are also eligible for the additional $600 per week.  If you have no applied, you can do so here.

Which employers must provide paid sick leave and family leave?

  • The Families First Coronavirus Response Act established new temporary emergency expanded paid sick leave and emergency family and medical leave protections for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These new leave provisions are effective April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
  • In general, a private employer with fewer than 500 employees is a “covered employer” for both the paid sick leave and paid family leave requirements. (Note: there is additional information about these emergency leave provisions under the “Small Business” section of this FAQ.)
  • The Department of Labor has issued fact sheets for employees and for employers, as well as a question and answer document that provides additional information.

How much paid sick leave are employees eligible to take?

  1. For paid sick leave, employees are eligible to take up to 80 hours (two weeks) of paid time, depending on the employee’s regular schedule, at 100% of the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $511 per day) due to quarantine/isolation order, health-care provider guidance to self-quarantine, or seeking diagnosis for symptoms of COVID-19.
  2. Sick leave pay is limited to 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $200 per day) for caring for someone who is isolated/quarantined and for taking care of a child due to closure of school or child care.

How much paid family leave are employees eligible to take?

  1. For paid family leave, employees are eligible to take up to 10 additional weeks of paid time at 2/3 of the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $200 per day) solely to take care of a child due to a closure of school or child care or the unavailability of a child care provider.
SMALL BUSINESSES

For information about SBA loan products, including new COVID-19-related loans, click here.

For information about the sick leave and emergency family leave mandates, click here.

What relief is included for small businesses?

  1. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The law includes nearly $350 billion to create a Paycheck Protection Program that will provide small businesses, nonprofits, and other entities with loans of up to $10 million based on average monthly payroll costs. This temporary emergency assistance through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Department of Treasury can be used in coordination with other COVID-financing assistance established in the law or any other existing SBA loan program. The PPP offers up to eight weeks of average payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utility payments to be forgiven if the business retains its employees and their salary levels. Principal and interest payments can be deferred for six months, and all SBA borrower fees are waived.
  2. Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans: The law also includes $17 billion to further ease the burden on small businesses that use SBA loan products. Under the law, the SBA will cover all loan payments for existing SBA borrowers, including principal, interest, and fees, for six months. The loan amount is based on average total monthly payments for payroll for the 12-week period beginning February 15, 2019, or at the election of the eligible recipient, March 1, 2019, and ending June 30, 2019.
  3. Emergency Economic Injury Grants: The law includes $10 billion in funding for a provision to provide an advance of $10,000 to small businesses and nonprofits that apply for an SBA economic injury disaster loan (EIDL). EIDLs are loans of up to $2 million that carry interest rates up to 3.75% for companies and up to 2.75% for nonprofits, as well as principal and interest deferment for up to 4 years. The loans may be used to pay for expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred, including payroll and other operating expenses.
  4. The $10,000 economic injury grant does not need to be repaid, even if the grantee is subsequently denied an EIDL, and may be used to provide paid sick leave to employees, maintaining payroll, meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions, or
  5. Refundable tax credits: Refundable tax credits are available for private-sector employers that are required to offer coronavirus-related paid leave to employees. The IRS will be posting information soon on these credits on its website (www.irs.gov), including information on how to obtain advance payment of these credits.
  6. Payroll taxes: The employer-side of certain payroll taxes are deferred through the end of 2020. Deferred taxes will not become due until end of 2021 and end of 2022, with 50% of the liability being paid at each date. Any business that does not have a loan forgiven through the new SBA Paycheck Protection Program is eligible for payroll tax deferral. 
  7. Employee retention tax credit: This credit is available for struggling businesses that are not eligible or choose not to participate in the new SBA Paycheck Protection Program. Any business that has been forced to fully or partially suspend operations, or that has seen a significant drop in revenues, is eligible for a 50% credit for wages paid to furloughed or reduced-hour employees. There is an overall limit on wages per employee of $10,000. Small business owners should look out for information from the IRS and talk to their payroll service provider, as applicable. 

What are the new paid sick leave and paid emergency family leave requirements for small businesses?

  1. Starting on April 1, 2020, certain employers with fewer than 500 employees must provide paid sick leave and paid emergency family leave to employees affected by COVID-19. A detailed FAQ page from the U.S. Department of Labor concerning the new mandates and other employment issues related to COVID-19 can be found here. A fact sheet for employers can be found here.
  2. Employers with fewer than 50 employers are not required to provide paid emergency family leave. Generally, employers with fewer than 50 employees must provide paid sick leave to employees though these employers may qualify for exemptions. See the link in the bullet above for more detailed information about responsibilities of employers to comply with the paid sick and emergency family leave requirements and potential exemptions to those requirements.
  3. To cover the costs of complying with these mandates, employers will receive refundable tax credits. The Treasury Department has indicated that the tax credits will be made available in advance, and the Department will soon be issuing instructions on how to obtain advance payment of these credits.

Is my small business eligible for relief?

  1. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): This relief is available for small businesses, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, 501(c)(19) veterans organizations, or Tribal businesses with not more than 500 employees that were in operation on February 15, 2020. It is also available to sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and eligible self-employed individuals.
  2. Small Business Administration Loans: This relief will be available to existing SBA loan borrowers and new borrowers who take out an SBA loan within six months since the president signed the law. Each program has different requirements; go here for more details.
  3. Emergency Economic Injury Grants: The grant is available to small businesses, private nonprofits, sole proprietors and independent contractors, tribal businesses, as well as cooperatives and employee-owned businesses that have applied for an EIDL. Eligible grant recipients must have been in operation on January 31, 2020.
  4. Refundable tax credits: The law makes the credits available for private-sector employers that are required to offer coronavirus related paid leave to employees.
  5. Payroll taxes: Any business that does not have a loan forgiven under the new SBA Paycheck Protection Program is eligible for the payroll tax deferral.
  6. Employee retention tax credit: The law provides a refundable payroll tax credit for 50% of wages paid by employers to furloughed or reduced-hour employees during the COVID-19 crisis for businesses who are either ineligible or choose not to participate in the SBA Paycheck Protection Program. 

If I receive a stimulus check from the federal government, will it impact my ability to file for bankruptcy?

  1. No. Under this law, stimulus checks from the federal government cannot be used to determine whether you are eligible for filing bankruptcy.
  2. If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will not have to turn your stimulus check over to your creditors. This new relief will be available for one year.

What assistance is there for nonprofits?

  1. Nonprofits are eligible for payroll tax deferment (see above).
  2. Nonprofits are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (see above).
  3. The law also allows any mid-sized nonprofit (between 500 and 10,000 employees) to get access to quick, low cost, government guaranteed credit through their local lender or financial institution. The Treasury Department and Federal Reserve will have a degree of flexibility in designing the new program, but the expectation is for loan terms to last for no more than five years and to cover up to 100% of payroll over the previous 180 days, or 50% of revenues for the past year, for eligible organizations. Borrowers will also commit to rehiring their workforce back to pre-existing levels upon the end of the COVID-19 health emergency.
  4. There are also two new charitable tax provisions for contributions during 2020. There is a new $300 above-the-line deduction for cash contributions generally to public charities in 2020. The CARES Act also increased the limitation on charitable deductions from 60% to 100% of modified income for cash contributions generally to public charities in 2020 and increased the limitation for food contributions by corporations from 15% to 25% of modified income. 
SUPPORT FOR THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

What type of funding will Connecticut get to help our state fight coronavirus and respond to needs in the community?

Connecticut will receive approximately:

  1. $1.3 billion through a new “Coronavirus Relief Fund” to help the state and towns cover costs of responding to coronavirus;
  2. $489 million to maintain transit systems in Connecticut;
  3. $440 million in increased Medicaid payments for the duration of the public health emergency for COVID-19; 
  4. $24.1 million of emergency Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding for Connecticut cities and towns; 
  5. $111 million in additional funding to school districts distributed through the Title I formula to help address problems caused by school closures due to coronavirus, as well as an additional approximately $28 million through a new Governor’s Stabilization Fund to help K-12 districts and colleges respond to coronavirus; 
  6. $134 million to help Connecticut colleges and universities respond to coronavirus; 
  7. $23.3 million in Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) funding to help child care providers maintain operations and meet emergency staffing needs; 
  8. $12 million from the Community Services Block Grant to address unemployment and economic disruptions in local communities;
  9. $11.181 million in additional funding for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to provide low-income residents help paying heating and cooling bills; 
  10. $8.4 million to Connecticut and localities through Byrne-JAG to help state and local law enforcement respond to the crisis, including through the purchase of personal protective equipment and other needed items;
  11. $7.8 million to Connecticut’s state and local health departments through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Public Health Emergency Preparedness to be used for medical supplies, surveillance, lab testing, infection control and mitigation;
  12. This is in addition to the $7.558 million Connecticut received on March 11 under the first relief package, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, to support the state and local public health response.
  13. $5.4 million to help Connecticut prepare for, and respond to, coronavirus in the 2020 Federal election cycle, including new election security measures to protect the integrity of voting systems and access to the ballot box; 
  14. $2 million through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to respond to pandemic-related mental healthcare needs of specific populations that have been impacted the most by this disease; 
  15. $20 million through the CDC to help the state improve surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications, and other preparedness and response activities;
  16. $1.15 million through the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program to help providers continue to treat those diagnosed with HIV and AIDS to reduce transmission in underserved communities;
  17. $679,000 through the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to help small and medium sized manufacturers; 
  18. $483,100 through the National Endowment for the Humanities and $446,200 through the National Endowment for the Arts for grants to museums, libraries, and other organizations;
  19. $475,421 through Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS to assist with rental payments as well as additional funding to help Connecticut residents avoid evictions; and
  20. $54,849 through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to provide Connecticut Poison Control Center the support it needs to increase its services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What other types of assistance has Congress provided?

  1. Congress has provided billions in additional funding for SNAP and WIC as well as around $900 million in additional aid to food banks and increased funding for senior nutrition programs. This funding will ensure that as demand for these programs rise, people can get the assistance they need.
  2. $3 billion to help those currently assisted through federal housing programs remain in their homes and avoid evictions.
  3. Congress has established new programs to provide for direct cash payments, paid sick leave protections, and increased unemployment insurance benefits. For more info please visit the small business and direct payments section of this FAQ. 
  4. As part of the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, Congress appropriated $11 billion for states, localities, terrorists, and tribes for necessary expenses to develop, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests.
SUPPORTING CONNECTICUT'S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

What resources are being provided to Connecticut providers?

  1. Congress has appropriated $175 billion to ensure that all health care providers continue to receive the support they need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue that are otherwise unreimbursed.
  2. The CARES Act temporarily lifts the Medicare sequester, effectively adding an additional two percent for services provided from May 1 through December 31, 2020.
  3. The CARES Act increases Medicare reimbursement to care for a COVID-19 patient by 20 percent (specifically, the Act increases the weighting factor of DRGs for inpatients diagnosed with COVID-19 by 20 percent). This add-on payment for inpatient hospital services recognizes the increased costs incurred by providers and will be applied for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. 

Which health care providers are eligible for the $175 billion fund?

  1. The law takes a wide definition of eligible health care providers to mean public entities, Medicare or Medicaid enrolled suppliers and providers, and such for-profit entities and not-for-profit entities that HHS deems appropriate, that are within the United States (including territories), that provide diagnoses, testing, or care for individuals with possible or actual cases of COVID-19.
  2. HHS has begun releasing funds and some rounds of funding may be limited to certain types of providers. For updates and any associated eligibility requirements, click here.

What expenses are eligible for funding from the $175 billion funding for providers?

  1. All non-reimbursable expenses attributable to COVID-19 qualify for funding. Examples include building or retrofitting new ICUs, increased staffing or training, personal protective equipment, the building of temporary structures and more.
  2.  Forgone revenue from cancelled procedures attributable to COVID-19, which has put significant strain on the health care system, is also a qualified expense.
  3. It is important to note that this fund can only be used for non-reimbursable expenses. Any expenses reimbursed or obligated to be reimbursed by insurance or other mechanisms are not eligible.
  4. To learn more about the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund, please look here.

Are there any other options for hospitals if they don’t get the money they need?

  1. Yes. Hospitals, specifically acute care hospitals, critical access hospitals (CAHs), children’s hospitals, and prospective payment system-exempt cancer hospitals (PCHs) will be able to request accelerated Medicare payments for inpatient hospital services.
  2. Rather than waiting until claims have been processed to issue payment, Medicare will work with qualified and interested hospitals to estimate their upcoming payments and give that money to the hospital in advance. Qualified facilities can request a lump sum or periodic payment reflecting up to six months of Medicare services.  

Can hospitals receive accelerated payments? When do these need to be repaid? 

  1. Yes. The CARES Act expands an existing Medicare accelerated payment program for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency period. This program would allow acute care hospitals, critical access hospitals (CAHs), children’s hospitals, and prospective payment system-exempt cancer hospitals (PCHs) to request prepayment on estimated upcoming Medicare claims, up to six months in advance, for hospital services.
  2. A qualifying hospital would not be required to start paying Medicare back for four months after receiving the first payment. Hospitals would have at least 12 months to complete repayment without paying interest. Hospitals interested in receiving accelerated payments should contact their Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC). To learn which MAC to contact, please look here

How do the laws support community health centers?

  1. Congress has appropriated $1.92 billion in new funding that only community health centers are eligible for. Additionally, the CARES Act also allows community health centers to apply for certain funding from the $100 billion provider relief fund that is available to eligible providers. You can read more about that funding above.
  2. The CARES Act also provides flexibility to expand telehealth coverage under Medicare to health centers.
  3. Congress has appropriated over $17 million in funding for 16 Federally Qualified Health Centers throughout Connecticut.
  4. Unfortunately, the CARES Act only reauthorizes community health centers until November; Senator Murphy will continue pushing for a long-term reauthorization for health centers.

Are hospitals and clinics eligible for small business loans?

  1. Yes. Small businesses and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, including health care providers, are eligible to apply for the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. This loan can be forgiven based on maintaining employee and salary levels. To be eligible, you must have fewer than 500 employees, or more if SBA’s size standards for the non-profit allows. For more information on the small business loan program, please see the small business resource section of this page.

Is there anything being done to support home health care workers?

  1. The CARES Act makes a permanent, statutory change to allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and clinical nurse specialists to order home health services for beneficiaries, without the need for a physician, reducing delays and increasing beneficiary access to care in the safety of their home.
  2. The CARES Act also directs the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to encourage the use of telecommunications systems, including remote patient monitoring, to deliver home health services consistent with the beneficiary care plan during the COVID-19 emergency period. This allows patients to receive certain home health services without a provider entering their home.  

Can providers get reimbursed for providing telehealth services?

  1. For Medicare services, yes. CMS will now pay for more than 80 additional services when furnished via telehealth. These include emergency department visits, initial nursing facility and discharge visits, and home visits, which must be provided by a clinician that is allowed to provide telehealth. For more information, click here.
  2. Providers also can evaluate beneficiaries who have audio phones only. 
  3. The CARES Act included $200 million to the FCC to support eligible health care providers’ use of telehealth services in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. Details on how to apply for funding can be found here

Does the bill give additional flexibility for hospice providers? 

  1. Yes. In order for a qualified beneficiary to receive hospice benefits, a hospice physician or nurse practitioner must certify their eligibility. Typically, a recertification must be done in person. The CARES Act allows hospice physicians and nurse practitioners to conduct these visits via telehealth for the duration of the public health emergency.

How does this bill help clinical laboratories when it comes to Medicare? 

  1. The CARES Act prevents scheduled Medicare payment cuts for clinical diagnostic laboratory tests furnished to Medicare beneficiaries in 2021. It also delays by one year—until 2022—the upcoming reporting period during which laboratories are required to report private payor data.
SUPPORT FOR PATIENTS

Will I have to pay for a coronavirus test?

  1. The Families First Coronavirus Act waives cost-sharing (such as deductibles, coinsurance, or co-pays) for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and related health care services for individuals enrolled in private insurance plans, Medicare, Medicare Advantage, Husky/Medicaid, CHIP, TRICARE, VA as well as federal civilians, American Indians, and Alaska Natives. That law also prohibits plans from using tools like prior authorization to limit access to testing.
  2. Most major health insurers (including UnitedHealth Group, Aetna/CVS Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Anthem, Cigna, and Humana) have also announced they would expand coverage for COVID-19 related treatments and testing. You should check with your insurer to confirm coverage.

How does this law affect the cost of a vaccine when one becomes available?

  1. The CARES Act ensures that once a vaccine is developed and is approved by the U.S. government as a preventive measure that it will be covered by private insurers and free to Medicare beneficiaries with Part B.
  2. This law also provides over $27 billion to support research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to prevent or treat the effects of coronavirus.
  3. These resources are in addition to $826 million to the National Institutes of Health to support basic research and the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics; and $2 billion to support advanced research and development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics that was included in the first COVID-19 appropriations.

How can seniors and others get prescriptions filled while social distancing?

  1. The law allows Medicare Part D recipients to get up to 90 days of a prescription, if that is what the doctor prescribed, as long as there are no safety concerns.
  2. Medicare drug plans will also allow beneficiaries to fill prescriptions early for refills up to 90 days, depending on the prescription.
  3. Governor Lamont also issued an Executive Order that provides pharmacists in Connecticut the discretion to fill a ninety-day refill of prescription drugs under certain circumstances. 

How does this law increase access to telehealth services for seniors and other Medicare Beneficiaries?

  1. The Act allows more clinicians to provide telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries, including in beneficiaries’ homes to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19, and provides more flexibility for health centers, rural health clinics, hospice physicians and nurse practitioners to utilize telehealth and remote patient monitoring services.
NUTRITION ASSISTANCE

Am I eligible for nutrition assistance?

  1. There are a variety of federal nutrition assistance programs that each have different eligibility standards and application processes. You can check your eligibility for SNAP here. In addition, here aretwo useful pre screening tools that can help you determine if you may want to apply for SNAP. 
  2. If you’re looking for more information on the WIC program, click here. If you’re looking for more information on senior food assistance and other food assistance programs click here.

If I’m getting unemployment insurance benefits can I get SNAP?

  1. Not necessarily. The programs have different rules and eligibility. To find out if you’re eligible for SNAP visit the links above.

Where can I find a local food bank?

  1. Congress has provided nearly $900 million in additional funding through multiple coronavirus relief packages to help stock the shelves of local food banks.
  2. Many towns have their own food banks. To find your local foodbank, click here. In addition, the Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare operate mobile food pantries. For more information click here.

My child is out of school, can they get meals?

  1. Congress provided additional flexibilities to allow school meals to be provided during a school closure. The most up-to-date information on meal distribution can be found through your town or local school district.
  2. Some towns around Connecticut are offering meals to all children, even if they don’t live in that town or district. In other areas, you must live within a school district to pick up a meal. To learn more about what is going on in your town click here AND regularly check information on your town or school district’s website or social media pages. 

If I want to apply for SNAP, will I need to do a face-to-face interview?

  1. It depends. Connecticut has received a narrow waiver from the federal government that allows some SNAP applicants to skip the interview requirement during the coronavirus emergency. To qualify, the state must be able to verify a variety of different documentation such as proof of income eligibility, residency, and identity.

Will I be subject to SNAP work requirements?

  1. Not right now. Congress has waived work requirements for the remainder of the coronavirus emergency and a court injunction has stopped the Trump administration’s effort to change the SNAP work requirement rules. 

Can I get additional SNAP benefits during the coronavirus emergency?

  1. It depends. While Connecticut has received a waiver that allows more people to receive the maximum monthly SNAP benefit, the maximum monthly SNAP benefit remains unchanged. In addition, this waiver only applies during the coronavirus emergency.  You can check your eligibility for SNAP here

Can I use my SNAP benefits online?

  1. Currently you are not able to use SNAP benefits to purchase food online in Connecticut.
HOUSING AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE

What if I can’t pay my rent?

  1. The law provides additional protections from eviction for all renters who live in properties that receive a federal subsidy, such as public housing, Section 8 rental assistance vouchers or subsidies, USDA rental housing assistance, or Low Income Housing Tax Credits. It also covers any renters in properties where the owner has a federally backed mortgage loan, which includes loans backed by the FHA, USDA, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  2. Owners of multifamily rental properties with federally-backed loans will be eligible to receive forbearance on those loans for 90 days, during which period they may not evict or charge late fees or other penalties to tenants for nonpayment of rent.
  3. Owners of federally-subsidized properties or properties with a federally-backed mortgage loan may not evict or charge penalties or fees to a tenant who cannot pay rent for 120 days following this act.

What if I need assistance with my mortgage?

  1. The CARES Act provides American homeowners with important protections to help keep them in their homes. Homeowners with FHA, USDA, VA or other federally-backed mortgages including those guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may request forbearance on payments for up to 12 months with no fees, penalties, or extra interest.
  2. The law also includes a 60 day moratorium on foreclosures and evictions of homeowners with FHA, USDA, VA, or 184/184A loans, or whose mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Is there utility assistance and am I eligible?

  1. The law provides an additional $900 million for LIHEAP to help lower income households heat and cool their homes. You can check your eligibility here.
  2. Connecticut has also ordered our utilities not to terminate service to customers during this crisis.
EDUCATION

What funding is provided to K-12 schools?

  1. The law provides $13.5 billion for local school districts to continue providing educational services to their students, including planning for and coordinating during long-term school closures and purchasing educational technology to support online learning.
  2. Connecticut will receive $111 million, which the Education Department will send to the state’s Department of Education to disburse to districts. By law, disbursements from the federal government must be completed within 60 days. 
  3. States must allocate to districts and charter schools in the proportion they receive funding under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 
  4. States must maintain their own funding at levels similar to the previous three years.
  5. Allowable uses also include addressing the unique needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English language learners, students of color, homeless students, and foster care youth. 
  6. Another $3 billion is available in flexible formula funding to allow Governors to address the needs of elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education.
  7. Connecticut will receive $28 million, which the Education Department will disburse to states within 60 days and the governor’s office will determine final disbursement to school districts and/or institutions of higher education. 
  8. Allowable uses include funding for school districts and colleges hardest hit by coronavirus or essential services, like social emotional support and job protection.
  9. For information on school meals, see the Nutrition Assistance section of this FAQ.

What types of waivers will schools receive for things like testing as well as maintaining services to all students, including students with disabilities?

  1. The Secretary of Education has broad authority to waive testing and reporting requirements for states. Connecticut has applied for a waiver, which would mean the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Academic Performance Test (CAPT) would be waived this school-year.
  2. Any further waivers to federal education laws (ESEA, IDEA, Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act, or Perkins CTE) will come from state requests to the Secretary of Education, who will report all requests within 30 days to Congress for approval.  

Do I get relief from my student loans?

  1. The CARES Act requires the Secretary of Education to defer loan payments, principal, and interest, for 6 months, beginning retroactively on March 13th and ending September 30, 2020 without penalty for the borrower for all federally held loans. Only Federal Direct Loans and Family Education Loans are eligible.
  2. All borrowers will receive reminder mailings from the Education Department beginning in August, along with information on options for repayment that can lower monthly payments or total payment. 
  3. Borrowers in loan forgiveness programs, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness, will receive credit for each month of deferment as if they made a payment. 
  4. The law also suspends any involuntary collection for defaulted loans, such as wage garnishment, reduction of tax refunds, or Social Security benefits.
  5. The law also includes a tax break for up to $5,250 for borrowers who are receiving assistance on student loan payments from their employers.
  6. Additionally, relief exists for students who must drop out of school due to COVID-19. Students will have the portion of their student loan taken out for the semester canceled. Students who received a Pell Grant or subsidized student loan will not have those types of financial aid counted toward their lifetime limits.
  7. Further, colleges have more flexibility to allow leaves of absences for students without consequences against the student’s record for financial aid and other grants as well as the future ability to return and complete coursework.  

Is there additional funding for colleges and the students they serve?

  1. The law provides $14.25 billion for higher education emergency relief for colleges and universities to respond to coronavirus, including providing grants to students to cover their basic needs.
  2. Connecticut will receive $134 million, which will go directly to colleges based on the percent of students they serve who are eligible for Pell grants. The Education Department will distribute funding in the same way it does under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. 
  3. Allowable uses also include colleges defraying costs due to closures and transitioning to distance learning.
  4. Public colleges are also eligible for flexible formula funding from the Governor (see K-12 notes for how funds will be disbursed).
  5. Students who are currently participating in the Federal Work Study program can continue to receive work-study payments from their institution if they are unable to work due to workplace closures. Colleges have flexibility in how and whether to make remaining work study payments, so please contact your college’s financial aid office for more information. 
  6. Colleges can also send additional emergency financial aid to students through Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOGs) to help with unexpected expenses and unmet financial need due to closures.  
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

Is there additional assistance for childcare and who is eligible?

  1. The law provides an additional $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to provide child care assistance to health care sector employees, emergency responders, sanitation workers, and other workers deemed essential during the response to the coronavirus. States can use funding to provide subsidies to essential workers, reimburse providers directly, open emergency child care centers, or keep providers from going out of business.
  2. The law also includes $750 million for Head Start to meet emergency staffing needs. 
  3. CCDGB and Head Start funds will be distributed to the states, who will then pass them along through their own programs.

Is there assistance for social service organizations and who is eligible?

  1. The law provides an additional $1 billion to the Community Services Block Grant to support a wide range of social services and emergency assistance for those who need it most. Funding goes directly to local community-based organizations (usually the area Community Action Programs), upon application.
  2. The law provides an additional $5 billion for the Community Services Block Grant, which will be determined by formula.
VETERANS

For a detailed veteran’s guide please click here.

What support is included for VA health care facilities and their COVID-19 response? 

  1. The CARES Act includes $19.57 billion in funding to ensure the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has the equipment, tests, telehealth capabilities and support services necessary to support veterans and the health care workforce at facilities nationwide.

I am a veteran living in a rural area and am being told that my appointments will now be through telehealth, but I can’t afford internet services or don’t have a good internet connection. How will this bill help me?

  1. Talk to your provider and local VA about getting an iPad or other tablet from VA. This bill allows VA to enter into partnerships with local telecommunications companies to subsidize or completely pay for broadband internet services. Call your local VA facility or send a secure message to your provider on My HealtheVet to ask about this option.

I’m a home health care worker for the VA, can I receive PPE for providing home care services to veterans?

  1. Yes. Under Section 20009 of the CARES Act, VA must provide PPE to any home health worker employed by or contracted with VA to provide services to veterans. 

I run a veteran-owned small business. Can the CARES Act help me? 

  1. Yes. If you are a veteran-owned small business, you can receive support through the Small Business Paycheck Protection Program to cover 8-weeks of your payroll, the mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs. There will be up to 100% loan forgiveness options for a veteran-owned small businesses that protects/fully maintains their workers. See the “Small Business” section of this FAQ for more information.

I have a VA-backed mortgage, am I protected against foreclosure during the COVID-19 emergency declaration? 

  1. Yes, under CARES Act Section 4022, federally backed mortgages, including those guaranteed or insured by the VA are protected from foreclosure for 60 days beginning on March 18, 2020. If borrowers are facing financial hardship, they can request forbearance for up to 6 months, with a possible extension for another 6 months, through their mortgage holder. 

I use VA’s prosthetics service and need to get my prosthetic adjusted, but am nervous to go into a VA facility because I have underlying conditions that make me more at risk of complications from COVID-19. Where can I go to get my prosthetic adjusted? 

  1. This bill gives VA more flexibility to allow veterans who need their prosthetics created or adjusted to do so in their local community. Call your local VA provider or message them on MyHealtheVet and ask about this option.
LIMITS FOR CORPORATIONS

What safeguards are included to prevent abuse of these new programs?

  1. The Senate included several safeguards on funds meant to help big business through the current public health crisis.
  2. Businesses owned by the President, Vice President, Members of Congress, and Cabinet Secretaries, and their families cannot receive any loans or investments from Treasury programs. 
  3. The law requires real-time public reporting of transactions under the Act. It sets up a Treasury Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, a Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, and a special Congressional Oversight Commission to ensure that the public’s money is being used wisely.
  4. The law also requires recipient companies, if they are publicly traded, to give the Treasury an ownership interest; and if they are not publicly traded, the company must give the Treasury senior debt.
  5. Airlines that receive federal assistance will have limits on executive pay, a prohibition on stock buybacks and dividends, and requirements to keep workers on payroll.
ELECTIONS

Will the election be impacted?

  1. The law provides $400 million for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections.
  2. Funding can be used to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting and online registration, and increase the safety of voting in-person by providing additional voting facilities and more poll-workers.
  3. States cannot change the day of the general election in November 2020.
RETIREMENT PLANS AND IRAS

For more information, please visit the IRS FAQs

What are the special rules for retirement plans and IRAs in section 2202 of the CARES Act?

  1. The CARES Act provides for expanded distribution options and favorable tax treatment for up to $100,000 of coronavirus-related distributions from eligible retirement plans (certain employer retirement plans, such as section 401(k) and 403(b) plans, and IRAs) to qualified individuals, as well as special rollover rules with respect to those distributions.
  2. It also increases the limit on the amount a qualified individual may borrow from an eligible retirement plan (not including an IRA) and permits a plan sponsor to provide qualified individuals up to an additional year to repay their plan loans. 

How do I know if I am a qualified individual?

  1. You are a qualified individual if:
  2. You are diagnosed with the virus SARS-CoV-2 or with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
  3. Your spouse or dependent is diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 or with COVID-19 by a test approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention;
  4. You experience adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, being furloughed or laid off, or having work hours reduced due to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19;
  5. You experience adverse financial consequences as a result of being unable to work due to lack of child care due to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19; or
  6. You experience adverse financial consequences as a result of closing or reducing hours of a business that you own or operate due to SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19.

What is a coronavirus-related distribution?   

  1. A coronavirus-related distribution is a distribution that is made from an eligible retirement plan to a qualified individual from January 1, 2020, to December 30, 2020, up to an aggregate limit of $100,000 from all plans and IRAs. 

Do I have to pay the 10% additional tax on a coronavirus-related distribution from my retirement plan or IRA?

  1. No, the 10% additional tax on early distributions does not apply to any coronavirus-related distribution.

When do I have to pay taxes on coronavirus-related distributions?

  1. The distributions generally are included in income ratably over a three-year period, starting with the year in which you receive your distribution. However, you have the option of including the entire distribution in your income for the year of the distribution.

May I repay a coronavirus-related distribution?

  1. In general, yes, you may repay all or part of the amount of a coronavirus-related distribution to an eligible retirement plan, provided that you complete the repayment within three years after the date that the distribution was received. 

Is there any retirement plan loan relief in the CARES Act?

  1. The CARES Act permits an additional year for repayment of loans from eligible retirement plans (not including IRAs) and relaxes limits on loans.

Is it optional for employers to adopt the coronavirus retirement distribution and loan rules of the CARES Act?

  1. It is optional for employers to adopt the distribution and loan rules of section 2202 of the CARES Act. An employer is permitted to choose whether, and to what extent, to amend its plan to provide for coronavirus-related distributions and/or loans that satisfy the provisions of section 2202 of the CARES Act. Even if an employer does not treat a distribution as coronavirus-related, a qualified individual may treat a distribution that meets the requirements to be a coronavirus-related distribution as coronavirus-related on the individual's federal income tax return.