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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

Click here to sign up for Senator Murphy's weekly coronavirus email updates. 

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES

For information on how Connecticut in addressing the pandemic 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 thesee bills 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

Individuals can visit Get My Payment on the IRS website to check on their payment status or call the IRS Hotline at 1-800-919-9835 if they are still waiting for their check.

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, 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. The new legislation expands these direct payments to mixed-status households and provides immigrant families with access to this financial relief.

How much will I receive? 

  • Each eligible adult and child in a household will receive $600. This means that a family of four consisting of two adults and two children would receive $2,400.
  • 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. 

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 deadline for the IRS to issue the second Economic Impact Payment is January 15, 2021. If you have not received your payment, you may be able to receive the payment as a refundable credit— the Recovery Rebate Credit—when you file your 2020 income tax return. The IRS has information on this credit here.

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 $600 if their adjusted gross income is under $75,000. These payments are considered refundable tax credits and therefore are not taxable.
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. Between now and March 14, 2021, an additional $300 will be added to every unemployment compensation check, so no one will receive less than $300 per week. You can apply for unemployment insurance here.
  • The new legislation passed at the end of 2020 extended the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, with expanded coverage to the self-employed, gig workers, and others in nontraditional employment. 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 $300600 per week. If you have not yet applied, you can do so here
  • With the newest extension to 24 weeks, UI and PUA eligible recipients can now receive up to 50 weeks benefits between state programs and PEUC available through March 14, 2021. After March 14, 2021, new claimants will not be eligible for the extra weeks of benefits, but individuals who had been receiving benefits as of March 14, 2021 will be eligible to continue to receive benefit payments through April 4, 2021.
  • Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation: Individuals who receive at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income now will receive an additional $100 weekly benefit, in addition to the benefit amounts they otherwise would be entitled to receive from traditional employment under state law.
SMALL BUSINESSES

For a detailed small business owner’s guide please click here.

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?

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): The law passed at the end of December includes $284 billion for the PPP, which is extended through March 31, 2021, to 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. 
  • The legislation also provides a second PPP loan of up to $2 million for smaller, harder-hit businesses that employ not more than 300 employees, demonstrate a loss of 25% of gross receipts in any quarter during 2020 compared to the same quarter in 2019, and have used the full amount of their first PPP before a second loan is disbursed. 
  • Critically, Congress dedicated a $15 billion set-aside for loans issued by mission-lenders, including community development financial institutions (CDFIs), minority-depository institutions (MDIs), and SBA 504 and Microlenders, as well as another $15 billion set-aside for certain smaller depository institutions, such as credit unions and farm credit institutions. It also creates $60 billion in borrower set-asides: $35 billion for borrowers who were unable to apply for an initial PPP loan, of which $15 billion is for smaller borrowers with up to 10 employees or loans of up to $250,000 in low- income areas; and $25 billion for second PPP loans for the same small borrower category. Eligible small businesses and nonprofits seeking initial PPP and second draw loans should contact an eligible PPP lender. A list of approved lenders is available on SBA’s website here.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, or meet increased production costs due to supply chain disruptions.
  • The legislation provides $20 billion in additional targeted funding for eligible entities in low-income communities through the EIDL Advance program from Section 1110 of the CARES Act. The bill makes entities in low-income communities, as defined in section 45D(e) of the Internal Revenue Code, that received an EIDL Advance under the CARES Act eligible to receive an amount equal to the difference of what the entity received under the CARES Act and $10,000. It also provides $10,000 grants to eligible applicants in low-income communities that did not secure grants because funding had run out. Eligible small businesses and nonprofits seeking to participate in the EIDL Advance program should contact the SBA.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • The bill also provides $15 billion for live venue operators, promoters, theatrical producers, independent motion pictures, theatre operators, talent representatives, and museum operators to cover expenses such as payroll costs, rent, utilities, and personal protective equipment.

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

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): This relief is available for small businesses, 501(c)(3) nonprofits, 501(c)(6) 501(c)(19) veterans organizations, local newspapers, TV and radio stations, public broadcasters, housing cooperatives, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Refundable tax credits: The law makes the credits available for private-sector employers that are required to offer coronavirus related paid leave to employees.
  • 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.
  • 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?

  • No. Under this law, stimulus checks from the federal government cannot be used to determine whether you are eligible for filing bankruptcy.
  • 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?

  • Nonprofits are eligible for payroll tax deferment (see above).
  • Nonprofits are eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program (see above).
  • 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.
  • 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

Did the end of year spending bill include additional funding for states and localities to respond to cover the costs of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • No. While the state of Connecticut received approximately $1.3 billion through the CARES Act, the end of year spending bill included no additional funding for states and localities. While the bill includes funding for schools and public health agencies, additional state and local funding is needed. Senator Murphy will continue to fight for this in Washington. 

What new assistance will Connecticut be receiving through the new $900 billion COVID-19 relief bill that passed in December 2020?

Connecticut is expected to receive the following assistance through the December 2020, COVID-19 relief bill: 

  • $260,735,189 to support testing, tracing, and COVID mitigation. 
  • $51,278,323 in vaccine funding support. 
  • $28,068,000 in the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, $492,426,000 through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and $225,121,000 through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.$66,904,268 to support child care providers through Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG).
  • $237,000,000 in rental assistance 
  • $124,814,969 through highway grants and $8,965,135 through the Airport Improvement Program.
  • Finally, Connecticut workers and families will also receive assistance. An estimated 1,632,529 people in Connecticut will receive direct economic impact payments totaling $1,619,442,000. Payments will be $600 for individuals making up to $75,000 per year and $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 per year, as well as a $600 payment for each child dependent. 
  • In addition, unemployed workers in Connecticut will receive an estimated additional $695,170,738 to supplement the state unemployment benefit for 11 weeks. As a result, the average unemployed individual in Connecticut will receive $611.34 per week for eleven weeks

What funding has Connecticut received in the past to help our state fight coronavirus and respond to needs in the community?

Through the CARES Act and other COVID-19 response bills , Connecticut has received approximately $21.2 billion in federal assistance. This includes:  

  • $2.717 billion in direct payments to Connecticut residents 
  • $3.305 million through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, $275 million through the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and $237 million in other unemployment funding
  • $6.718 billion in PPP loans to help small businesses stay afloat as well as $2.111 billion through the Small Business Administration’s Emergency Injury Disaster Loans and $166 million for Emergency Injury Disaster Loan Advances 
  • $1.314 billion for the Provider Relief Fund to help hospitals and healthcare providers respond to the COVID-19 crisis; 
  • $1.151 billion through Medicare payments to hospitals
  • $1.3 billion through the CARES Act’s Coronavirus Relief Fund to help the state and towns cover costs of responding to coronavirus;
  • $139 million in aid to K-12 schools and colleges to help schools respond to impacts of the COVID-19 crisis
  • $489 million in infrastructure grants to transit agencies to prepare for and respond to COVID-19
  • $513 million in disaster aid through FEMA 
SUPPORTING CONNECTICUT'S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

What resources are being provided to Connecticut providers?

  • Congress has appropriated $179 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. For updates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and any associated eligibility requirements, click here.
  • The end of year relief package temporarily lifts the Medicare sequester, effectively adding an additional two percent for services provided through March 31, 2021. It also increases Medicare physician payments by 3.75 percent in 2021 to help providers during the public health emergency.

How do the laws support community health centers?

  • In much-needed relief for Connecticut’s health centers and the patients they serve, the end of year funding package reauthorized and funded the program through fiscal year 2023 Congress has appropriated more than $2 billion in new funding for community health centers. Additionally, health centers are eligible to apply for certain funding from the Provider Relief Fund. You can read more about that funding above.
  • The CARES Act also provides flexibility to expand telehealth coverage under Medicare to health centers.
  • Congress has appropriated over  $24 million in funding for health centers throughout Connecticut.

Are hospitals and clinics eligible for small business loans?

  • 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?

  • 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.
  • 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?

  • 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.
  • Providers also can evaluate beneficiaries who have audio phones only. 
SUPPORT FOR PATIENTS

Will I have to pay for a coronavirus test?

  • Connecticut requires private insurance carriers and the state’s HUSKY Health Program to provide COVID-19 testing with no out-of-pocket costs for those with symptoms of COVID-19. Those without symptoms of COVID-19, a doctor's order for a test, or not in an area where your local public health authority has recommended everyone get tested, may incur a charge. You should check with your insurer to confirm coverage. Senator Murphy earlier called on major private health insurers to cover COVID-19 related testing and treatment at no cost.
  • For the latest guidance from the CDC visit and check out Connecticut’s FAQs about testing.To locate your nearest testing site, call 2-1-1 or visit the CT Testing Locator.  

Will I have to pay for the vaccine?

  • Due to historic investments by the federal government into the research, development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, the American people will not be charged for the cost of the vaccine and any related administration fee charges must be covered by their insurance plan or through federal programs to cover the uninsured.
  • The CARES Act ensures that the cost of a vaccine is covered with no cost-sharing, whether you are enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or TRICARE, or have private health insurance, including Access Health CT plans. Uninsured individuals can access the vaccine free of charge as well through certain health care providers. Check if your provider plans to seek reimbursement through the Provider Relief Fund.
  • More information about the vaccine is available at the CDC’s website here and through Connecticut’s Department of Public Health here.  

What is being done to keep seniors safe?

  • Under an Executive Order from Governor Lamont, since June, all nursing home facility staff and residents are tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis. This mandate continues for the duration of the public health and civil preparedness emergency.
  • Residents of long-term care facilities and their families can access information about their rights through the State Long Term Care Ombudsman Program here.  

How can seniors and others get prescriptions filled while social distancing

  • 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.
  • For private insurance plans, Connecticut pharmacists are able to fill a 90-day refill of prescription drugs (other than controlled substances) under certain circumstances, even if the original prescription was for 30-day refills. Husky enrollees are permitted 90-day supplies of prescription medications other than controlled substances along with early refills of needed medication. You can find out more here.  

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

  • The CARES 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.
  • The end of year funding package permanently extends coverage for telemental health services for Medicare beneficiaries.
NUTRITION ASSISTANCE

Can I get additional SNAP benefits during the coronavirus emergency?

  • Yes. The end of year spending bill included a 15% increase in SNAP benefits through June 2021. Prior to this, using flexibilities provided by Congress, the Connecticut Department of Social Services had been providing additional SNAP benefits to many SNAP recipients during the pandemic. Although, until passage of the end of year spending bill, these payments were capped at maximum monthly SNAP benefit. This 15% increase will ensure that those who are most in need get extra assistance during this time. 
  • You can check your eligibility for SNAP here. In addition, here are two useful pre screening tools that can help you determine if you may want to apply for SNAP. 

Where can I find a local food bank? Are food banks getting federal assistance to respond to COVID-19 pandemic?

  • To find your local food bank, click here. In addition, the Connecticut Food Bank and Foodshare operate mobile food pantries. For more information click here.
  • The end of year spending bill provided $400 million to food banks through The Emergency Supplemental Food Program. This is on top of additional support food banks received in bills like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act and the CARES Act.

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

  • Congress and the USDA have given states and school districts the ability to waive certain school meal requirements in order to ensure children can access school meals safely during the pandemic. The most up-to-date information on meal distribution can be found through your town or local school district. 
  • In addition, Congress has provided funding through the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) program to give families of students who participate in free and reduced-price school meals extra benefits to compensate for school meals they did not receive due to school closures. You can find more information here.

Will I be subject to SNAP work requirements if I am applying as an Able-Bodied Adult without Dependent Children (ABAWD)?

  • Not right now. Congress has waived work requirements for the remainder of the coronavirus emergency.

Can I use my SNAP benefits to buy food online?

  • Yes. Connecticut is currently part of a pilot project that allows SNAP recipients to purchase food online at Amazon, Walmart, and Shoprite. For more info visit  www.ct.gov/snap.  
  • The end of year spending bill includes $5 million in funding to support this pilot program. This funding will go towards things like expanding this initiative to new food retailers and farmers markets. 

What type of funding is available for senior nutrition programs?

  • The end of year funding bill included $175 million for Meals on Wheels and $13 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program 
HOUSING AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE

Is there rental assistance and am I eligible?

  • The COVID-19 Stimulus Package extends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium until January 31, 2021. However, Connecticut’s eviction moratorium will remain in effect until February 9, 2021 even if the CDC moratorium is not extended. 
  • A new and historic emergency assistance program will provide an estimated $237 million to help Connecticut families and individuals pay their rent and utility bills and remain stably housed, while also helping rental property owners of all sizes continue to cover their costs, including costs necessary to ensure residents’ health and safety. Additional guidance from the Department of Treasury and state of Connecticut will be forthcoming. 
  • Eligible households are defined as renter households who: have a household income nor more than 80 percent of the area median income (AMI); have one or more household members who can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and have one or more household members who qualify for unemployment benefits or experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic. 
  • Assistance would be prioritized for renter households that do not exceed 50 percent of AMI as well as renter households who are unemployed and have been unemployed for 90 days.

Is there utility assistance and am I eligible?

  • The law includes $638 million for a new program that will help low-income families cover the costs of their drinking water and wastewater utility bills by providing funds to owners or operators of public water systems or treatment works to reduce arrearages and rates to low-income households.
  • Connecticut has also ordered our utilities not to terminate service to customers during this crisis through February 9, 2021. Further, the Winter Protection Program, which protects eligible households during the winter months, is also in effect from November 1, 2020 through May 1, 2021. If you are experiencing difficulty paying your utility bill, you can contact your utility company and ask if you are eligible to be “coded hardship” and enrolled in the Winter Protection Program. If you are ineligible for hardship status or a non-residential customer, ask to enroll in a COVID-19 Payment Plan. Additional information regarding these programs and other assistance can be found here.
EDUCATION

What funding is provided to K-12 schools?

  • The law provides $54.3 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.
  • States must allocate to districts and charter schools in the proportion they receive funding under Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 
  • States must maintain their own funding at levels similar to the previous three years.
  • 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. 
  • Another $4 billion is available in flexible formula funding to allow Governors to address the needs of elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education.
  • For information on school meals, see the Nutrition Assistance section of this FAQ.

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

  • The law provides $20 billion for higher education emergency relief for colleges and universities to respond to coronavirus, including providing grants to students to cover their basic needs. Allowable uses also include colleges defraying costs due to closures and transitioning to distance learning
  • Public colleges are also eligible for flexible formula funding from the Governor (see K-12 notes for how funds will be disbursed).
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

Is there additional assistance for childcare and who is eligible?

  • The law provides an additional $10 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to child care providers who are currently in operation or have been temporarily closed due to the pandemic.
  • The law also includes $250 million for Head Start to meet emergency staffing needs. 
  • CCDGB and Head Start funds will be distributed to the states, who will then pass them along through their own programs. 
  • The bill includes a special temporary rule allowing lower-income individuals to use their earned income from tax year 2019 to determine the Earned Income Tax Credit and the refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit (i.e., the Additional Child Tax Credit) in the 2020 tax year.

What if I have child care funding leftover in a Dependent Care Savings Account?

  • The law allows individuals to carry over any unused dependent care FSA benefits from 2020 into the 2021 plan year, ensuring that families do not unfairly lose out on these employer-sponsored benefits at the end of the year.
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.
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.